For the first time ever the Indianapolis Raceway hosted a European based endurance race and BMW took home top honors in multiple classes. The 8 Hours Of Indianapolis was they first event of its kind and one of the more memorable of the year for the IGTC. Also notable was the participation of several American teams in the Series including the BimmerWorld M4 took victory in its class being driven by Bill Auberlen, James Clay and Chandler Hull (all USA).
The winning run of the BMW M6 GT3 continues. Just one week after its first victory at the Nürburgring 24 Hours (GER), a BMW M Customer Racing car won the 8 Hours of Indianapolis (USA). Walkenhorst Motorsport claimed a one-two in the second of four races that make up this season’s Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC). Nürburgring winner Nick Catsburg (NED) triumphed in the #34 BMW M6 GT3 alongside Connor De Phillippi (USA) and Augusto Farfus (BRA). David Pittard (GBR), Martin Tomczyk (GER) and Nick Yelloly (GBR) came home second in the #35 car.
The BMW M6 GT3 had already made a clear statement of intent in qualifying, with pole position for Catsburg, De Phillippi and Farfus, and third place on the grid for their team-mates. The race saw flawless performances from all the drivers, despite rain and some difficult conditions in the first few hours, and they soon established themselves at the front of the field. Changing track conditions made tyre selection tricky, but the team made all the right decisions. The fact that the opposition were struggling with issues meant that both BMW M6 GT3s were able to control the race in the closing stages and secure a memorable one-two.
This was Walkenhorst Motorsport’s maiden victory in the team’s second full season in the IGTC. For Catsburg, who tasted success at the Nürburgring with ROWE Racing last weekend, this was a second win in a week. After failing to finish the season-opener at Bathurst (AUS) back in February, this victory puts regular drivers Catsburg and Farfus right back in the title race, along with team-mates Pittard and Tomczyk, who did not start at Bathurst. The highlight of the IGTC season – the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) – takes place in just a few weeks. The title will then be decided at the season finale at Kyalami (RSA) in December.
BMW M Customer Racing teams also triumphed in the GT4 category. Bill Auberlen, James Clay and Chandler Hull (all USA) took victory in the #82 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4. That rounded off a perfect weekend for Clay, who had previously wrapped up the Driver title in TC America with the BMW M240i Racing on Saturday. Second place in the GT4 class at the 8 Hours of Indianapolis went to the #438 BMW M4 GT4 of ST Racing, with drivers Jon Miller (USA), Samantha Tan and Nick Wittmer (both CAN).
Quotes after the race:
Jens Marquardt (BMW Group Motorsport Director): “To have won a prestigious endurance race with the BMW M6 GT3 for the second time in just a week is awesome. Congratulations to Walkenhorst Motorsport on a commanding and flawless performance at Indianapolis. It was a pleasure to see the team and drivers do such a perfect job. Looking at the overall standings in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, this success was hugely important. I can now hardly wait to see the two Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3s in action again at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in just three weeks’ time. The Indianapolis success was perfectly rounded off by the 1-2 result for the BMW M4 GT4 in the GT4 class. Congratulations also to BimmerWorld Racing and ST Racing.”
Niclas Königbauer (Team Manager Walkenhorst Motorsport): “We are overjoyed. It was a sensational team effort to claim a one-two here at Indianapolis after the 24-hour race. We obviously always dreamed of this, but to actually achieve it in this manner was really excellent. We did not make any mistakes, were strategically very well prepared, and the drivers and whole team did a mega job. I believe we fully deserved to finish first and second. We are pleased that BMW put their faith in us and that we have been able to pay them back with this success. I am now really looking forward to the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and many more challenges.”
Nick Catsburg (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “That was a very special week for me. To celebrate back-to-back victories at the Nürburgring and Indianapolis is simply fantastic. Thank you very much to Walkenhorst Motorsport and my fellow drivers. They did a perfect job. Augusto Farfus was magnificent in the rain at the start. He and Connor De Phillippi made my life relatively easy. I just had to bring the car home and secure the win.”
Connor De Phillippi (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “The guys at Walkenhorst Motorsport are Nürburgring specialists, and they proved that emphatically today. After all, we had Nürburgring conditions here at Indianapolis. One moment it was wet, the next it was dry again. Tyre selection and tyre strategy were key, and the team did a virtually perfect job when some stages of the race were pretty eventful. Unfortunately, the safety car periods did not always play into our hands, and the Acura in third place was able to close in on us. When the track dried out, the BMW M6 GT3 got faster and faster and, when our rivals had their issues, we were able to control the race.”
Augusto Farfus (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “That was a fantastic day. To win at an iconic venue like Indianapolis, just one week after the podium at the Nürburgring, is remarkable. We did not make any mistakes today, and so laid the foundation for this win. I can hardly wait to travel to Spa-Francorchamps for the highlight of the season.”
David Pittard (#35 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “I think our set-up gave us a slight advantage over the other Walkenhorst car on a wet track. You could see that, particularly at the start of the race, when Martin Tomczyk did a fantastic job in difficult conditions and handed the car over to Nick Yelloly in the lead. The drier it became, the more the balance of power shifted towards the #34 car. It is fantastic for the team to be able to split the strategy that way. It ultimately worked in favour of our team-mates, but on the whole it was a fantastic result for Walkenhorst Motorsport.”
Martin Tomczyk (#35 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “That was an exciting weekend. Congratulations on the victory to Walkenhorst Motorsport and our other car, with Nick, Connor and Augusto. The two cars were at almost the same level all weekend. In the race, however, the way the conditions developed tended to suit the other car a little more. Be that as it may, the one-two is a fantastic result for Walkenhorst Motorsport and BMW. We are one big team and will all celebrate together. We did that a week ago at the Nürburgring, and we will obviously do so again here.”
Nick Yelloly (#35 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “It was another great race and a great event. It was great fun to drive at Indianapolis. That is something I have always wanted to do. And then to claim a one-two for BMW, after Nick and I won on the Nordschleife last week – that is simply a dream week. In the end, we were not quite able to match the other Walkenhorst car, as we took different approaches in terms of the set-up. We were quicker at the start, but they really upped their pace when the track dried out. I am overjoyed. That is my second podium with Walkenhorst Motorsport and quite simply a superb performance from the whole team.”