BMW turned it all around last year in Spa. After a disappointing first spring for the BMW M6 GT3, the Rowe Racing works squad went on to take the Ardennes classic by storm. Defending champion and BMW works driver Philipp Eng returns with his winning team to make it two in a row.
So far, the season hasn’t been exclusively kind to Rowe Racing. Electing to skip the season opener in Monza due to what the team felt was a Balance of Performance disadvantage at the high speed Autodromo, it was at Silverstone where the team made its first Blancpain GT Endurance appearance immediately scoring a seventh place. A strong running at the Paul Ricard round ended not with points but with retirement.
Going into the 24 Hours of Spa, Eng feels like the team from Germany’s Sankt Ingbert can repeat last year’s feat, now knowing what it takes.
“To have won last year was a big confidence boost,” the Austrian says. “But in sports, you’re always as good as your last race.
“It’s going to be a long 24 hours. Anything can happen and there are so many good cars, drivers and teams on track. At Spa, it’s most important to just make no mistakes in traffic. If you do, you get penalized and I think it’s good that they’re harsh.
“Blancpain GT changed the regulations in Silverstone. You now get a tough penalty when you touch an amateur driver and destroy other people’s race.
“I think that’s good. The regulations are clear: You’re not allowed to have any kind of contact. In a perfect race, like we had last year, you come back with a clean car after the race and I think that’s what brings you the win in the end. You don’t need to be the quickest car on outright pace, but the smartest car and with the least scratches.”
In the ultra-competitive environment that is the Blancpain GT Series, Eng knows you can’t ever be content for very long, always having to stay ahead of the game.
“As a sportsman, you’re always trying to improve yourself. You try to learn from past mistakes as a team, trying to get better and better. Together with Rowe Racing, I think that’s what we did.
“Everyone at BMW Motorsport and Rowe Racing is putting so much effort into this. We have some very good people behind the scenes who are taking care of the strategy and so on, so I feel like we are very well prepared.”
Last year, Rowe Racing and BMW’s meticulous preparation lead to victory. When asked why he is going to win again this time, Eng’s answer is straight forward.
“Because we are driving a BMW. ‘Knock on wood’, we have the same reliability as last year. If you look in the garage, you’ll see that the guys are always on the case just to limit the potential of a technical failure.
“Once we start the race, it’s mainly down to us. The guys have done their job at that point and in an ideal world, they only see the cars back during the pitstops after every 65 minutes.
“But, there is so much going into this race. You also need a bit of luck. Last year we were lucky in some occasions and unlucky in others. I hope we’ll have the same average of luck this time.”