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Nürburgring Endurance

ROWE Quickest Again as Van der Linde Tops Night Practice

No. 98 ROWE BMW continues to set the pace during Nürburgring 24 build-up…

Photo: GruppeC Photography

The No. 98 ROWE Racing BMW M4 GT3 topped the timesheets for the second Nürburgring 24 session in a row courtesy of an 8:15.867 lap from Sheldon van der Linde.

The BMW factory driver led Thursday evening’s three-hour qualifying practice session after his co-driver Nicky Catsburg set the overall pace on Thursday afternoon.

Catsburg’s 8:14.771 marker remains the weekend benchmark so far, while the No. 98 BMW has emerged as one of the top SP9 contenders at this early stage of the event.

Van der Linde ended up pacing second practice by three-tenths of a second from Luca Stolz, who posted a time of 8:16.176 in Haupt Racing Team’s No. 12 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that is competing under the Mercedes-AMG Team Bilstein banner.

Stolz initially went quickest when he crossed the timing line around 45 minutes into the session, but van der Linde eclipsed the German driver only a few moments later.

Rene Rast took third with a final-hour 8:17.879 attempt that squeezed the No. 22 Car Collection Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II above the Schubert Motorsport BMW, in which Jesse Krohn delivered an 8:17.892.

Matteo Cairoli was the best Porsche 911 GT3 R driver in fifth for Dinamic Motorsport, ahead of TF Sport Aston Martin pilot Maxime Martin who also lapped in the 8m 18s.

All of those leading times except Rast’s came during the opening hour, before darkness had fully descended over the Nordschleife.

A long Code 60 slow zone period to retrieve the stranded No. 25 Huber Motorsport Porsche, which clattered the barriers after trying to round a Walkenhorst BMW through Wippermann, prevented any mid-session improvements.

The other notable incident involving GT3 machinery happened in the early stages when Patrick Pilet’s No. 44 Falken Motorsports Porsche incurred right-front bodywork damage after contact with the KCMG Porsche driven by Nick Tandy.

Falken’s No. 44 entry later received a five-position grid drop for disrespecting yellow flags, although it is unclear which driver committed the offense.

Once the damaged Huber Porsche had been cleared, the final hour of the session saw a handful of quicker numbers come in.

These included Rast’s ascent to third, Connor De Phillippi’s 8:19.054 in the No. 99 ROWE BMW and an impressive 8:19.385 from SP-X class driver Tim Heinemann that made True Racing’s No. 116 KTM X-Bow GT2 the 11th-fastest car outright after two sessions.

In the final moments, Frank Stippler crawled the No. 5 Scherer Sport Team Phoenix Audi to the pits with an apparent issue. “I had a long brake pedal and an unstable rear axle, especially in left turns. Something broke there,” said the two-time N24 winner.

The third and final qualifying practice session takes place at 2:10 p.m. CEST (8:10 a.m. ET) on Friday, ahead of Top Qualifying to determine the SP9 starting order.

RESULTS: Thursday sessions (combined)

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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