BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS claimed victory in the qualifying race for this June’s 24 Hours.
The No. 25 squad of Maxime Martin, Marco Wittmann, and Uwe Alzen led for much of the second half of the race and was the lead of a BMW quartet that finished at the top.
While the second half of the race featured and all-BMW lead lap, the early hours saw a fierce BMW vs. Audi vs. Mercedes-Benz struggle with excellent charges also by Nissan and Porsche.
The final two hours of the race evolved into a significant intra-BMW dice, waged between the pairs of cars entered by Marc VDS and Team Schubert.
The No. 25 Z4 GT3 overcame a pit lane penalty to scratch out a slim lead over the no. 20 Schubert entry of Claudia Hürtgen, Jens Klingmann, and Dominik Baumann.
The other Schubert entry (No. 19, Dirk Müller / Lucas Luhr /Alexander Sims / Dirk Werner) was next but nearly two minutes behind. The last car on the lead lap was the second of the VDS entries, Markus Palttala, Nick Catsburg, Dirk Adorf, and Bas Leinders piloting No. 26.
Early challenges by Mercedes and Audi faded away. There was some damage to the hood of the pole winning No. 15 HTP Mercedes and the team decided to pack it away until June.
The best remaining Mercedes was the No. 1 Black Falcon entry, resting in fifth overall. Along with the No. 17 G-Drive, healthiest of the Audi, it was a lap off the leading BMWs.
These were the only GT3 class cars left in a competitive spot. Next in the overall order was the No. 61 GetSpeed Performance Porsche Cup car, winning the SP7 class and enjoying a good battle with the similar car of Black Falcon (No. 58).
Two other Audis had fought various problems. The 502 and No. 18 R8 LMS pair was stranded further down the order, contesting spots with several SP7 Porsches. One of the Cinderalla stories ranged against the various German marques, the No. 24 Nissan GT-R succumbed to turbo failure after a very good run through practice, qualifying and the early hours of the race. The No. 10 Audi had gearbox failure.
The challenge by that other German marque, Porsche, also came to a not so sweet end when the No. 8 Haribo 997 GT3 R crashed. A plethora of late race downfield retirements left the long track a pretty quiet place during the plesant but windy late afternoon.
The No. 25 BMW also won the SP8 GT3 class. The other contested classes included the all Porsche SP7 category that was won by the No. 61 GetSpeed Perormance 997 GT3 Cup, driven by Steve Jans, Adam Osieka, and Dieter Schornstein.
It was a happy day for Team Jota, their little Mazda Motorsports backed Miata just squeezing out a victory in V3 for Wolfgang Kaufmann, Teruaki Kato, and Owen Mildenhall.
The VLN based V6 class went to the Porsche Carrera of Black Falcon, Helmut Weber, Vincent Kolb, and Alexander Kolb on the driving strength. The small touring car group in SP3 was headed home by the Roadrunner Racing Clio of Boris Hrubech, Kouichi Okumura, and Junichi Umemoto.
The brand new BMW M325i Racing model had the Cup 2 class to themselves with the No. 308 Adrenalin Motorsport car taking the trophy for Uwe Ebertz, Christopher Rink, Norbert Fischer, and Oleg Kvita.
The teams now have about 10 weeks to lick their wounds and reassess their strategy. Then it is time to meet back in Germany for the full 24 Hours.