ROWE Racing claimed BMW’s second victory of the Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie season as Nicky Catsburg and Stef Dusseldorp triumphed in Saturday’s four-hour race.
Catsburg took the checkered flag 21.8 seconds clear of Mikkel Jensen in the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, earning a one-two result for the German manufacturer.
It marked ROWE’s first NLS victory since the 2019 season-opener and the second BMW win of the current campaign following Walkenhorst’s round one victory in June.
Jensen finished second with David Pittard and Christian Krognes, while Dirk Müller completed the top-three in the Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that the ex-Ford GTE driver shared with Patrick Assenheimer and Dominik Baumann.
ROWE’s BMW, which started from third on the 14-car SP9/GT3 grid, spent the race running a different strategy in order to beat the Walkenhorst and HRT entries.
While Pittard and Assenheimer pitted from their first stints after just four laps of the Nordschleife, Catsburg stayed out for seven laps before swapping for Dusseldorp.
This tactic elevated Walkenhorst and HRT to a better track position for the bulk of the race, during which Assenheimer overtook Pittard for the lead midway through the second hour before Krognes repaid the favor on Baumann at the end of hour three.
Krognes led into the third and final round of stops, but he and Müller – who had taken over from Baumann – had three laps longer to run in the final stint than Catsburg.
The mixture of a shorter stop and a fresher set of tires enabled Catsburg, who captained three of the four ROWE stints, to take the lead and stay there until the finish.
Jensen needed to defend hard from Müller at the start of the final stint, while the Walkenhorst driver came through 2.5 seconds ahead of the HRT Mercedes at the end.
KCMG finished fourth with its No. 18 Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Dennis Olsen, Romain Dumas and Alexandre Imperatori.
The best-placed Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo of Markus Winkelhock, Frederic Vervisch and Mattia Drudi completed the top five, ahead of KCMG’s other Porsche.
Olsen drove both KCMG cars on Saturday and was in the thick of the lead battle with the No. 19 Porsche in the opening stint as he challenged Fabian Schiller for the lead.
Schiller, who started GetSpeed Performance’s Mercedes from pole, lost out to Olsen in the forest whilst fighting for grip under greasy conditions after a morning downpour.
Schiller then got back past on the Dottinger Hohe straight before the GetSpeed machine, which was entered into the SP9-Am category, faded over the course of the race.
Olsen, whose long first stint relinquished track position to the likes of Walkenhorst and HRT, handed the No. 19 Porsche to Josh Burdon, who spun in the GP loop to drop behind his teammate Dumas and the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Michele di Martino.
The Lamborghini, which looked promising in the early stages, was then forced to make an unplanned stop when di Martino tangled with another car, resulting in rear-end damage.
The KCMG Porsches swapped positions in the second round of stops, before Olsen – now in the No. 18 car – hunted down Burdon in the third hour to put that 911 GT3 R ahead.
This set KCMG’s No. 18 on course for fourth, while Audi driver Winkelhock hunted down and overtook Edoardo Liberati in the final hour to split the blue and white Porsches.
The Car Collection Audi driven by Winkelhock, Milan Dontje and Mike David Ortmann was classified in seventh, ahead of the Jeroen Bleekemolen and Maxime Martin-driven Frikadelli Racing Porsche.
The SP9 Pro-Am winning Huber Motorsport Porsche and the Am-class GetSpeed Mercedes that started from pole rounded out the top ten.
The highest-placed GT4 car was the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Mike Stursberg, Gabriele Piana and Mustafa Mehmet Kaya which dominated SP8T.
That car finished 15th overall, one position ahead of the SP10-winning Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport BMW M4 GT4.
Next up for the NLS is a six-hour race on Aug. 29, which marks the final round before the Nürburgring 24 on Sept. 26-27.
RESULTS: DMV Grenzlandrennen