Tom Blomqvist takes a moment for himself after the long walk from the Walkenhorst Motorsport garage down to the old pits to collect his Spa 24 Hours trophy. Everyone around him passes by, celebrating, congratulating. The young Brit looks up to podium he will soon ascent to. At age 24, he’s just become one of the youngest drivers ever to take the crown in the Spa classic.
“It’s kinda starting to sink in,” Blomqvist says, the soft sound of his voice betraying the end of a long weekend.
“The adrenalin is starting to wear off and that’s when you realise how knackered you are.
“It’s been an absolute effort, just brutal since the start of the race. We’ve been giving it our all—there have been a lot of emotional highs.
“We always believed we could win the race—I don’t know if we ever thought we would win the race. We really started to believe when we were in the lead during the night: we had the pace to win the race. And then the last two and a half hours were the longest two and a half hours for all of us, I think.
“It’s an absolute phenomenal job by the team. We have only one engineer—a support engineer. They’ve all been up all day and all night, made no faults, no bad calls, no errors from anyway, and it resulted in a perfect race for us.”
The inexperienced team of Henry Walkenhorst exceeded everyone’s expectations when it reached the finish flag not only as the winner, but also without giving BMW’s works team Rowe Racing one single inch along the way.
As the weekend went on, the freewheeling squad became more and more of a contender until at nightfall it grabbed the lead. From there on, the BMW M6 GT3 was unstoppable as Tom Blomqvist, Philipp Eng and Christian Krognes took turns behind at wheel.
The secret, Tom Blomqvist suggests, might have been the team’s frankness.
“It was obviously the drivers that made the difference,” Blomqvist chuckles, before taking on a more serious tone.
“It was the way the team worked: we just came here to have fun and do a good job. It was very low-key. Obviously, we were taking things seriously, but the team is small: we don’t have the personnel, we don’t always do meetings. It’s like, ‘alright, Chris, you drive now’. It’s almost like a family team—it’s awesome.
“They’re so happy that we managed to win this. For them to win the Spa 24 Hours, and for Henry, the team-owner, it’s incredible.”
Although the number 34 BMW was entered as a Pro car, one of its driver is not: when Tom Blomqvist and Eng go racing in DTM next week, Krognes will be back at the office for his day job. Regardless, the Norwegian kept the pace high throughout the Spa weekend and never for a moment looked out of place amongst his BMW works driver co-pilots, earning him the praise of his team-mates.
“Philipp and I, we race at the highest level, and Chris—he’s probably on a phone call from work right now—he’s so underrated. Maybe half the field didn’t know who he was before the race. I knew how quick he was from racing at the Nordschleife with him, but he’s excelled everyone’s expectations, including BMW’s, and he deserves a shot.”
After going through his longest race ever and coming out victorious, Tom Blomqvist would like to give it another go.
“Unfortunately, it’s a bit out of my control. I’d love to: we proved to be a great team, a winning team. I think our combo here worked really well. I would love to do this race again with the same driver line-up.”
SPA 24 HOURS GALLERY, PT.I | SPA 24 HOURS GALLERY, PT.II | WALKENHORST’S WEEK AT THE SPA 24 HOURS IN PICTURES | IN HIS OWN WORDS: HOW CHRISTIAN KROGNES WON THE SPA 24 HOURS | INTERVIEW PHILIPP ENG | LIVE BLOG