BMW now the strongest it has been in WEC - Catsburg

Last weekend's Sebring 1000 Miles marked the strongest showing to date for the BMW M8 GTE in FIA World Endurance Championship trim, believes Nicky Catsburg.

BMW now the strongest it has been in WEC - Catsburg

The MTEK-run BMW squad scored only its second GTE Pro class podium finish on Friday as the #81 crew of Catsburg, Martin Tomczyk and Alexander Sims finished second behind the Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz.

A late rain shower and subsequent full-course yellow offered the chance for the #81 car, which was running off-strategy, to grab the advantage, but a slow stop to switch to wet tyres dropped it behind the #91 Porsche 911 RSR.

However, Catsburg acknowledged that because the #81 was due to make a splash for fuel in the final 30 minutes the rain did not cost it victory, instead allowing it to finish higher than it would have had the race remained dry.

The Dutch driver also cited the two-day pre-event test and the cool temperatures as factors in a stronger-than-usual performance for BMW.

"The car was very strong, it was nice to have the double test day the week before," Catsburg told Motorsport.com. "We knew [the car] was going to come alive when the temperatures went down.

"We are a little bit harsh on the tyres but when the temperatures drop that fades away and we can stay consistent throughout the stint.

"The car is still relatively new and we’re learning a lot also from the American guys [the RLL squad that runs factory M8 GTEs in IMSA]. We’re just getting our package in a better window.

"For this event it’s a combination of the car liking the track and the conditions suiting our car."

#81 BMW Team MTEK BMW M8 GTE: Martin Tomczyk, Nicky Catsburg, Alexander Sims

#81 BMW Team MTEK BMW M8 GTE: Martin Tomczyk, Nicky Catsburg, Alexander Sims

Photo by: JEP / LAT Images

Asked if Sebring marked BMW's best WEC race yet, Catsburg replied: "100 percent, yeah.

"Before we were kind of off the pace and struggling to get everything together, but this event was really good. I honestly think we’ve now found the way to go.

"I assume Spa and Le Mans will be better this time around [than at the start of the superseason]."

Bruni gets first win as Porsche driver

Bruni and Lietz's triumph marked their first of the 2018/19 campaign, as well as the first for Bruni since he defected from Ferrari at the start of 2017.

The pair have also established themselves in a firm second in the standings, 25 points behind teammates Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, who finished fifth in Sebring.

"We knew we had a good car, we worked very hard on the tyres to have a better life in testing," said Bruni. "We were consistent, not the fastest.

"We did a good overtake on the BMW and the Ford, this was the key moment for us. After Richard pulled away from the #67 Ford, we knew BMW had to [pit for a] splash again.

"My first win with Porsche, the first win for Porsche of the year. I hope we can continue this way for the rest of the season."

#91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR: Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni

#91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR: Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni

Photo by: JEP / LAT Images

shares
comments
WEC expects Sebring 2020 news "very quickly"

Previous article

WEC expects Sebring 2020 news "very quickly"

Next article

Hartley reflects on "awesome" Sebring podium double

Hartley reflects on "awesome" Sebring podium double
Load comments
The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial Prime

The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial

OPINION: After 24 Le Mans 24 Hours participations, 50-year-old Emmanuel Collard will be absent from the grid this year, stuck at the mercy of his gold driver grading. But, while he's not motivated by breaking start records, the French veteran is determined to return to the field next year.

WEC
Jul 24, 2021
How glitches threatened Toyota's unbeaten WEC streak Prime

How glitches threatened Toyota's unbeaten WEC streak

The FIA World Endurance Championship's long-awaited return to Monza posed the sternest test yet for Toyota's new hypercar. Although the Japanese marque's GR010 Hybrid remains unbeaten, the victory for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi was far from plain sailing.

WEC
Jul 19, 2021
The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence Prime

The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence

Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Prime

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness.

Le Mans
Jun 23, 2021
How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear Prime

How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear

Despite going stride for stride for pace at Portimao, Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 couldn’t convert pole position into a sustained victory fight against Toyota. And due to rules and car limitations that are set in stone, the French manufacturer will be searching for solutions in its own battle of endurance.

WEC
Jun 14, 2021
Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota Prime

Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota

This weekend's Portimao 8 Hours round of the FIA World Endurance Championship marks the 100th world champion prototype start for Toyota. Here are the major milestones on the road to three figures since the earliest low-key days of its entry into the Group C arena nearly 40 years ago.

WEC
Jun 12, 2021
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Prime

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Prime

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory.

WEC
May 4, 2021