Published: 20 May 2013
Nürburgring, Germany: BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS took a second place finish at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. Maxime Martin, Yelmer Buurman, Andrea Piccini and Richard Göransson, driving the #25 BMW Z4 GT3, finished just two minutes behind the winning car after an extraordinary 24 hour race. The #26 of Markus Palttala, Henri Moser, Bas Leinders and Richard Göransson retired from a podium position after an accident.
The two cars lined up in the top ten on the grid and immediately looked strong. The start of the race was dry and both cars made strong progress in the opening hours. When the rain came, good strategy calls put both cars in the top six, and they ran consistently and strongly in worsening conditions.
The #26 car moved into the top three and was followed by the #25, which then took the lead after some fast lapping by Maxime Martin. However, at a quarter to eleven the race was red flagged. With conditions getting worse and worse the organisers deemed the track too dangerous and all the cars were brought to the pitlane. The race would not restart for more than nine hours. This put paid to Martin's good work, as the standings were counted back one lap.
Car #26 restarted third and #25 fifth at eight in the morning, but by the time the cars reached the Nordschleife Maxime Martin had put #25 into the lead. He would cross the line nearly 20 seconds ahead of the competition after just one lap. Both Marc VDS cars were in the top three for a considerable time, before an incident befell #26.
While running in third place, Bas Leinders was pushing hard to chase down the second placed car when another car spun in front of him at Bergwerk. With nowhere to go, the car hit the barrier and was too badly damaged to continue.
A change in the weather, with the track drying, played into the hands of Mercedes and some time was lost for the #25 car. When Martin left the box for the final stint the car was fourth and 24 seconds behind second place. However, in one extraordinary lap he caught the two Mercedes in second and third and passed both coming onto the Nordschleife.
With the gap to the leader too large to close, Martin eased off and crossed the line two minutes and 39 seconds behind the winning car to secure a remarkable podium.
Richard Göransson, #25 and #26 BMW Z4 GT3
“This race is difficult, and with the weather we've had it's been a really tough challenge. I was lucky to drive both cars. I feel sorry for Bas and the team on #26 with the retirement, because the guys did a great job. But to finish on the podium in the #25 is amazing, a credit to Marc VDS and to BMW Motorsport. Maxime's drive was absolutely fantastic.“
Andrea Piccini, #25 BMW Z4 GT3
“We looked good in the first part of the race, because we were leading on track when they red flagged the race. We did not expect this gap to the Mercedes, that was a surprise. Maxime did a wonderful job and we made it to the podium. We all drove in tricky conditions; it was wet, dry, wet, dry and then you were on slicks when it was wet and rain tyres when it was dry. It's been a crazy race.“
Yelmer Buurman, #25 BMW Z4 GT3
“To think that it is less than a month since I drove a GT car here for the first time, it's amazing for me to be here. Thinking about it now, it's quite special. To be on the podium my first try is great. The team did a great job and BMW gave us a great car. We had no reliability issues, nothing. All my team mates did a great job because it was so tricky; it was very easy to lose the car thanks to grip, let alone with the traffic. Maxime finished superbly. It's been incredible.“
Maxime Martin, #25 BMW Z4 GT3
“This is great. It's great to be on the podium in just the second race for the team here, and my second 24 hours too. The car was really good, I think we can really thank the Marc VDS Racing Team, my team mates, BMW, Michelin everybody for this podium. We did it. I saw the Mercedes and I thought 'OK, they're right there, we have a chance, I will push for it'. I did it. Perfect.“
Bas Leinders, Team Principal
“Of course we are all very proud of the whole team. Every member of this team has worked so, so hard to achieve a podium here. We came here for the win, but the win is an exclusive thing, it's very difficult to get there. Saying that, if you get a podium it means you've done a very good job. Everyone did an amazing job; drivers, engineers, mechanics, everyone. I think it's really good to see #25 on the podium. With #26 we had this incident with another car spinning on the track but that's the Nordschleife. That's what makes it so special here, there's things you can't control. I have to thank BMW Motorsport and above all Marc van der Straten, because without his passion we wouldn't be here.“