Nicky Catsburg alongside teammates Jens Klingmann and Alexander Sims took a well-deserved second place at this weekend’s Total 24 hours of Spa, the jewel in the crown of the GT3 racing Calendar.
In a highly competitive 63 car GT3 field where 13 manufacturers were represented, Catsburg and his teammates were in the hunt for victory until the end, finishing just 10 seconds behind sister BMW M6 GT3 driven by some time teammates of Nicky, Tom Blomqvist and Philipp Eng and ably supported by Christian Krognes.
Catsburg’s #99 Rowe Racing BMW had been a strong contender from the outset, rising from 15th on the grid into the top ten in the opening hours and continuing progress to lead the race as the sun rose. A series of exchanges for the lead as pitstop strategies overlapped between the two leading BMWs ensued for the remaining hours with neither car putting a wheel wrong throughout the race for what was an extremely well executed one-two result.
Catsburg, who won the event in 2015 for BMW, drove a total of nine hours of the race, his drive time being reduced slightly by a two-hour race stoppage following a heavy crash at the notorious Eau Rouge corner. This resulted in extensive damage to the tracks safety barriers at a time when Nicky had just taken over the car.
“At the beginning of the race we got unlucky with the safety cars and then there was a point that things went in our direction,” Nicky said. “Towards the end of the race in the Technical Stop we gained a lot of time and the Rowe team did a great job strategy-wise to gain us places as the leading BMW had us covered in terms of pure speed all weekend long but we still managed to put up a good fight and hats off to the team for making the right calls.
“The key to the race is that we didn’t make any mistakes, there was no contact at all, we didn’t get any track limits warnings,” Nicky continued. “There were no mistakes from our side or the team and in the end that’s what gets you the podium. It’s a very good result for BMW and while I would have loved to have the P1, I’m happy with the P2 as well!”
Nicky’s focus now returns to the M8 GTE programme for BMW where he will continue in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the next round being at Silverstone on 19 August where he will be in the hunt for more podiums.