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OEM Bosses Warn Against ‘Unsustainable’ June Schedule

BMW, Mercedes-AMG express concerns over three straight 24-hour races in June next year…

Photo: JEP/SRO

Management figures from BMW and Mercedes-AMG have spoken out against the prospect of holding three 24-hour races on consecutive weekends in June next year, calling it “not feasible” and “not sustainable.”

With the reveal of next year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge calendar placing the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa on June 28-29, it means that the Belgian endurance classic is the last in a run of three 24-hour races on consecutive weekends.

The 24H Spa is preceded by the Nürburgring 24 on June 21-22 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is set to take place on its traditional mid-June slot the weekend prior.

BMW M Motorsport director Andreas Roos stated that it is likely “not possible” for the brand to uphold a presence at all three events like it has done this year.

“It’s a big concern because it’s actually not feasible,” Roos told Sportscar365

“There are things involved. You need the people and you can’t send people four weeks in a row to racetracks. It’s also physically, in my opinion, not feasible.

“It’s not possible because, for example, when you have to start building up here, we are still racing [at] the Nürburgring. So it’s also physically not possible.

“It’s people from BMW involved, which do all the races. There are also teams involved, we do several of these races and that’s just logistically and from the human side, it’s just not possible to do this.”

Although SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel has indicated that “there is nothing we can do” about the schedule for next year, Roos warned of “consequences” should changes to the calendar not be made.

“Our hope is that we find a solution to this,” he said.

“We have to find a schedule which allows this. Otherwise we have to see what consequences we have to draw out of this.”

Roos’ comments were echoed by Stefan Wendl, Mercedes-AMG’s head of customer racing, who described the situation as ‘unsustainable.’

Even though the Stuttgart brand has no current presence in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he acknowledged the toll three straight major endurance events will take on staff involved with the races.

“I think from several kinds of perspectives and in a group of competitors, this is not sustainable,” Wendl told Sportscar365.

“So not only for the staff working, from media to engineers and mechanics and so on.

“For those brands which are involved and which are working in the unique GT3 business, with a centralized support system, I think there are more brands than us doing it like this, it’s very difficult to manage this work balance for the workload for our staff.

“[They] need to prepare the events proper, need to analyze events afterwards and also have time to rest for everybody. Those are very demanding races.

“I think everybody who survived the 24-hour race at the pit stand or as a mechanic will know how much energy it takes out of your body and how long you need to recover afterwards.

“That’s why it will be a very hard time for a lot of people involved in motorsport.

Additionally, Wendl pointed to two additional drawbacks caused by the compressed schedule: the way it negatively impacts both fans and Bronze-rated drivers.

“I think we lose those momentum because for sure there are fans which would like to join in the same year all the three events, or maybe two of them, Nürburgring, Spa and Le Mans,” said Wendl.

“Who can afford or make it possible to go off holiday for three weeks and four weeks in a row? This is not possible, and I think all three events will suffer from it.

“Another very important topic are our gentlemen drivers, because you have to remember that this is customer racing, and customer racing is made for customers filling up their dream and winning races.

“But also for those guys which usually have a job on the side and a 24-hour race, all those three are usually a full week of racing, of preparation, and also to get rest afterwards again.

“And this is very difficult for those guys to participate on those three events.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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