With second place in the Qualification Race for the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, Rowe Racing pilot Nick Catsburg feels bolstered by the team’s performance. If BMW ever had a chance to take the win with the BMW M6 GT3, it will be this year.
Six hours of racing, and the difference between race winner Yelmer Buurman in the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Rowe Racing’s Nick Catsburg was just 2 seconds. The Dutchman made his fellow countryman sweat in the closing minutes as he rapidly gained ground, coming close but not close enough.
“That final lap was super awesome,” Catsburg says.
“I saw that we were closing in on the other car which I just heard was Yelmer. I must say, we did have some luck there: he kept running into traffic which let me catch up. Once he was out of traffic I noticed how hard it was to really attack.
“I really tried, I even had to go through the grass to overtake some people.”
Despite his best efforts, Buurman deflected Catsburg’s attempt, coming home to finish second together with team-mate Martin Tomczyk. The works duo was entered in both the number 98 and the 99, with the 99 going on to finish on the podium while the 98 fulfilled its task of qualifying for the Top 30 Shoot-out.
“I’m very happy with P2. It was a superb preparation for the 24 Hours in a couple of weeks time. I was able to drive a lot today because we had just two drivers for two cars, that was awesome.
“I really enjoyed today—it’s still the best race track there is.”
In the morning qualifying session, organised as a dry-run for the Top 30 Shoot-out at the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, a cold and damp Nordschleife challenged the teams and drivers to pick the right type of tyre.
“We made the wrong tyre choice in the morning qualification, leaving us thirteenth and sixteenth on the grid.
“We went out-of-sync by stopping a bit earlier in the race. Eventually you’ll see where everyone ends up.
“I think we drove a very good race with regard to the lap times, they were very consistent. The car is absolutely fast, it all went very well.”
At last year’s 24 Hours of the Nürburgring the tremendous heat throughout the weekend and then the sudden downpour in the closing minutes meant tyres took frontstage. Catsburg expects teams to need to be on top of their tyre-game to be a factor for the win, for which the Qualification Race offered another lesson.
“We keep learning about the tyres. We have several compounds we need to completely understand.
“The difference in temperature is also interesting for us: in VLN1 and 2 it’s often cold, today it was a bit warmer. This is a very useful rehearsal.
“Of course, it always depends on the weather. Last year, the difference between the Dunlop and Michelin rain tyres was big. Eventually we only drove one lap on rain tyres, but that was where we made the difference.
“We’ll see what’s going to happen—I’m not sure yet.”
A fan of the Nürburgring, Catsburg wants to add a 24 Hours of the Nürburgring trophy next to his Spa winners’ cup.
“This is my favourite circuit, and the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring is such a cool event. It’s real old-school racing. This is the track where I take the most pleasure in what I do. Of course, racing is always awesome, but this track is unique, special and unbelievably cool.
“And in the M6 it’s even more fun; it’s such a good car around here.”