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Team BMW Motorsport has made a triumphant return and won the 2010 24-hour race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. Five years since the manufacturer’s last victory, the no. 25 BMW M3 GT2 claimed BMW’s 19th victory at this endurance classic on Sunday. The winning car, with Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR), Uwe Alzen (DE) and Pedro Lamy (PT) at the wheel, crossed the finish line first after 154 laps of the 25.378-kilometre circuit. The quartet of drivers produced a flawless performance and fought their way onto the top step of the podium despite gearbox problems in the last three hours.
An impressive fight back saw the second BMW M3 GT2, car number 26, driven by Dirk Werner (DE), Dirk Müller (DE), Andy Priaulx (GB) and Dirk Adorf (DE) race through the field to finish in seventh in front of 220,000 spectators. A crash, while swerving to avoid a collision, resulted in the four drivers losing an hour in the pits early on in the race and dropping back to 182nd. In cool, but dry conditions, car number 26 worked its way back up the field lap by lap. The drivers’ fighting spirit was ultimately rewarded.
The two private BMW Z4 GT3 cars with numbers 76 and 69, run by Schubert Motorsport and Dörr Motorsport respectively, rounded off an excellent overall result for BMW by finishing in fourth and ninth. In addition to the win, BMW teams secured ten class wins at the Nordschleife. These results have further strengthened BMW’s position as the most successful manufacturer in the history of the race. Of the 198 cars lining up for this year’s event, 63 were BMWs.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said: “That was a fantastic return for us at the 24-hour race here on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. This win reminds me of the triumph in Le Mans in 1999. I have never known excitement like I experienced today. After some of our direct rivals fell by the wayside, our victory was also hanging by a thread. At about 12.00 the winning car developed a gearbox problem, resulting in the loss of one gear. Shortly after 13.00 other gears gradually gave up. It was a masterful performance how Jörg Müller and Uwe Alzen brought the car home in first place in this crucial phase. The tension was enormous for all of us, so the relief was all the greater when the car crossed the finish line. I must say a big thank you to every single member of the team. Everyone worked perfectly together. Thanks also to our loyal fans, who have taken us to their hearts after a five-year break and given us such great support.”
For the Schnitzer Motorsport team this is the fifth win in the “Green Hell” after previous victories in 1989, 1990, 2004 and 2005. Team Manager Charly Lamm said: “Days like this are the ultimate reason why I love my profession so much. The commitment shown by the entire team today is really unique. We had to overcome some tricky situations, but always believed in ourselves. The preparation time was tough, as we had to get the best possible package on its feet within a relatively short timeframe. We obviously succeeded. It goes without saying that I feel sorry for the rivals who did not finish the race. However, reliability is crucial in a race like this, and in that regard we were number one today.”
The fast and flawless work which Schnitzer Motorsport has demonstrated for decades played a big role in this triumph. Following Werner’s crash on the eighth lap, the mechanics changed the front-left suspension, the radiator and the rear-left shock absorber on the number 26 BMW M3 GT2. The winning car also experienced difficulties: tyre damage on lap 46 and a damaged radiator just six laps later also required unscheduled pit stops. In addition, the car developed a gearbox problem in the last three hours. However, the team and drivers stayed calm and refused to be denied victory once they had taken over at the head of the field with two hours remaining.
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