Henry Walkenhorst says he was “very nervous” in the closing stages of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, with his underdog Walkenhorst Motorsport team en route to victory in the Belgian endurance classic.
Philipp Eng, Tom Blomqvist and Silver-rated Christian Krognes beat several all-factory lineups, including the other BMW M6 GT3s entered by ROWE Racing, in a victory that Philipp Eng said shows what the small German team is capable of.
“It was obviously very exciting,” explained team owner Henry Walkenhorst. “We had actually planned for me to do the final stint in our second BMW M6 GT3.
“However, I gave that a miss, as I was really very tense. When you are on the cusp of achieving such a big success, I think that everyone in the team feels the same.
“Like me, every one of us was trembling with excitement. I was very, very nervous and was pacing up and down. I could not sit still during the final stages.”
He says the victory was down to a number of factors, including strong support from BMW Motorsport and a “flawless” run by all three drivers.
“We had perfectly-prepared cars and a different strategy to what many would perhaps have expected from us,” Walkenhorst said.
“We have enjoyed a close relationship with BMW for years. Over the past eight years, we have consistently built up our little team.
“This is top-class sport and you obviously need a good engineering back-up, which we receive from BMW. In this case, the superb driver line-up obviously also helped.
“I think BMW knows which teams they are going to allocate certain drivers to. You have to have a very decent and trustworthy partnership to be given that kind of opportunity.”
Walkenhorst runs a BMW in the Am Cup of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup for the full season, as well as a sizeable VLN program, although the Pro Cup entry was just a one-off for Spa.
Despite an increasing profile as a team owner, he says his main focus remains his weekday job operating a number of BMW dealerships in north-western Germany.
“My main job is obviously a BMW dealer,” he said. “With everything going on, you cannot forget that.
“Our idea, years ago, was to combine professional racing with our business, so that more people would buy sporty BMW cars from us. Refined models with M Performance parts.
“Forming this link is important to me, not just as a team principal but also as a BMW dealer. And it is working very well.
“As a result, we have seen an increase in sales of M cars, such as the M240, M3, M4 and M5. This win will obviously allow us to play this card to an even greater extent.”