Following a somewhat challenging start of the season with the BMW M6 GT3, ROWE Racing has turned its focus towards the Total 24 Hours of Spa in pursuit of its first win with the all-new car.
Philipp Eng and Alexander Sims have spent the entire Blancpain GT Series in the No. 99 BMW M6 GT3 car, already racking up considerable mileage in the turbocharged GT3 sports sedan.
The duo will be rejoined by local ace Maxime Martin this weekend, with the Belgian DTM ace having already competed with them at the Nürburgring 24.
Eng admitted that the M6 GT3, one the newest GT3 cars around, is still being fine tuned and developed as the season progresses.
“Everyone involved in the development of the car did a mega job to get the car up to speed, but of course we’re still improving in every session,” he told Sportscar365.
“It’s the newest car on the grid, so every single lap and every session is a learning process for both BMW, ROWE Racing and us as drivers.
“I think we have some good things in the pipeline that hopefully will soon pay off.”
Despite the ongoing learning process, the M6 GT3 already showed what it’s capable of at the Nürburgring 24 two months ago, finishing as the best non-Mercedes in fifth.
“The debriefs are quite intense,” Eng said. “For us drivers, it’s very demanding to give the feedback that is needed for BMW and the team.”
Up until now, the car has been struggling with traction out of slower corners, and while the 20-turn, 4.352-mile Spa-Francorchamps shares some of those characteristics, the Belgian circuit should in theory suit the car.
“We believe Spa is one of the better tracks on the calendar for the M6,” Eng said.
“We have very good aerodynamics and the car is good in fast corners, but on the other hand some slower parts where you need a good drive out of the corner.
“Physically it’s a very big car. You’d think it would also handle like that, but it’s very agile and rigid. It’s always good fun to drive.”
Following a disastrous Paul Ricard 1000km, where both cars were involved in incidents at the start, Eng wouldn’t be drawn to a prediction for Spa, pointing out the ultra competitive nature of the series.
“The field in the Blancpain GT Series is ridiculously close,” he said. “There are so many professional teams and drivers you can never really predict what’s going to happen.
“It’s just the nature of the series, that’s what’s makes it really attractive to teams and drivers.”
It’s no secret that BMW Motorsport is supporting the German team in its first year with the car following its switch from the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.
“We are supported by BMW, not only with drivers but also with technical support,” Eng said. “The most important thing is that everyone learns from everyone.
“BMW learns from the team and vice versa. Both parties are trying to get the best out of the car; that’s what it all about.
“It’s a big race, so I’m sure there will be a lot of BMW guys there.”
Only 20 BMW M6 GT3s were built for the first year, with all of them having already been soldand allocated to teams.
On a personal note, Eng is satisfied with the switch he made from driving Porsches to a factory deal with BMW.
“After my good past two years, my goals was always to get a works contract. I talked to BMW in the late second half of 2015 and got invited to do a test,” he said.
“The switch wasn’t really an issue, because the car is handling really easy with the long wheelbase and it’s very easy to drive.”