A “big effort” has been made by Walkenhorst Motorsport and BMW to be present in this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour after logistics issues stemming from South Africa that initially put the team’s participation in doubt.
The German squad is present with a single BMW M6 GT3 for the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season opener instead of a planned two-car operation due to its cars and equipment getting held up following November’s Kyalami 9 Hour.
It’s understood a spare BMW had to be air-freighted into Australia after its delayed sea freight wouldn’t make it in time for the race.
“Obviously the cars have been Kyalami after the race, South Africa has been hit with some fairly severe weather and it looks like they had some trouble getting the cars out of the port,” BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt told Sportscar365.
“We managed to get now with big efforts and thanks to everybody involved one car at least to Bathurst but it was impossible at that time to get both cars and everything there.
“[It’s] unfortunate but hey we got one car there and we’ll push.”
The No. 34 BMW will be driven by Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert this weekend, with Catsburg and Farfus committed for the entire five-round championship.
Walkenhorst’s second entry, which will now appear from the second round of the IGTC season at Spa, will be driven by Martin Tomczyk, Nick Yelloly and David Pittard.
Marquardt said Walkenhorst is in the “same position” as last year in terms of factory support, despite BMW’s decision to shift Schnitzer Motorsport away from IGTC competition for 2020.
“Obviously with Schnitzer focussing on the first half of the year on the VLN hopefully in 2020 what we’re looking for and then second half the year full focus on development of the M4 GT3.
“We had to decide looking at the development of Walkenhorst over the last years we feel they are definitely capable to have two cars on a really good level in a championship like IGTC.”
Schnitzer to Focus on BMW M4 GT3 Development Post-N24
Marquardt downplayed any racing opportunities for Schnitzer following May’s Nürburgring 24, where it will spearhead BMW’s efforts in the German endurance classic.
The team will instead work on development of the new BMW M4 GT3, which is due to debut in 2022.
“We need them to focus and a new car development is a lot of work,” Marquardt said. “Honestly speaking I think in that respect we need to make sure we do things proper rather than ‘oh yeah it would be nice to’.
“The clear plan is fully focused approach to Nürburgring and then focus on the development of the car and then the year after we’ll look at where we can stage the car.
“Schnitzer is not out of racing and we will have Schnitzer out in front of the fans but we need their expertise and their capacity and everything on a focused approach for the new car and we don’t want to divide that between different people or whatever.
“That doesn’t make any sense for us.”