24h Spa-Francorchamps: Dramatic finish in the Ardennes

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After 527 laps, Dirk Werner, Lucas Luhr and Markus Palttala in the number 77 BMW Z4 GT3 finished in second place.

Six safety car periods, a 60-minute interruption and a thrilling finish: The BMW drivers and teams have experienced a turbulent race, which was nerve-wracking at the end, at the 66th staging of the 24-hour classic at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (BE).

After 527 laps, Dirk Werner (DE), Lucas Luhr (DE) and Markus Palttala (FI) in the number 77 BMW Z4 GT3 finished in second place. Victory at the 24 Hours of Spa went to the Audi drivers Laurens Vanthoor (BE), René Rast (DE) and Markus Winkelhock (DE), who only caught the BMW Z4 GT3 15 minutes before the end of the race and won by just 7.077 seconds in one of the closest finishes at Spa ever.

As the second best BMW team, Ecurie Ecosse made it into the top ten. Alexander Sims, Oliver Bryant, Andrew Smith and Alasdair McCaig (all GB) were rewarded for their strong driving performance with an excellent seventh place overall, which saw them finish second in the Pro-Am Cup in which they were competing.

Three questions for… Dirk Werner

A dramatic 24-hour classic with six safety car periods and a race interruption has come to an end. How did you, as a driver, experience this nerve-wracking marathon in the Ardennes?

Dirk Werner: “What's special about the 24 Hours of Spa is that there are an incredible number of cars on the track. It's extremely difficult to get through the traffic and finish the race without suffering any damage. The risk of getting involved in a crash is particularly high at night. But we kept out of all of the smaller and bigger skirmishes. There's no doubt that this is one of the reasons we were able to celebrate a podium place at the end. The team had prepared perfectly for this weekend. We didn't make any mistakes. Marc VDS and BMW more than deserve this second place, but a victory would also have been well earned.”

You drove the final stint and had to employ some tactics to be in with a chance of the overall victory. What went through your mind as you realised that your rivals were constantly closing in?

Werner: "Driving the final stint is a lot of fun. You can win it all and lose it all. I tried everything to get the best out of the car and not to make any mistakes. On the other hand I was aware of the fact that my opponent was closing the gap very quickly. With that in mind you think about how and where he will try to pass you, and how to defend your position as well as possible. Of course, that’s difficult with cars that are as fast as ours. You also have to concentrate on the track and traffic in front of you. In the end I tried everything to avoid being overtaken by the Audi and he tried everything to pass me. This time, the better outcome wasn’t on my side. For sure I was disappointed during the final five laps. But you still have to give your best, because even in the final ten minutes of such a race everything can happen. All in all I am happy with P2.”

You brought your wife and children to Spa. How will you celebrate this success tonight?

Werner: “It’s only so soon after the race that I have no idea to be honest. But I’m sure we’ll find a way. I don’t even know if any kind of celebration is planned. Of course, it is something special for the Marc VDS team to be on the podium here in Spa. It’s their home race and they have never done better than second so far. So I’m sure that Bas Leinders and his team will find a way to celebrate in style. For me it was my third race in Spa, once I was third, twice I was second. Now only victory is missing.”

BMW

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About this article
Series BES
Event Spa-Francorchamps
Sub-event Sunday post-race
Track Spa-Francorchamps
Drivers Lucas Luhr, Andrew Smith, Oliver Bryant, Markus Palttala, Dirk Werner, Alexander Sims, Alasdair McCaig
Article type Race reports
Tags bmw, ecurie ecosse, marc vds

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