MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –
Source: BMW Group Munich. Nick Catsburg (NED), Alexander Sims (GBR) and Nick Yelloly (GBR) won the 24 Hours of Nürburgring (GER) in the # 99 BMW M6 GT3 from ROWE Racing last Sunday and thus secured their places in the annals of BMW Motorsport secured. There were two anniversaries to celebrate: 50 years after BMW’s first overall victory at the premiere of the 24-hour race, a BMW team was once again at the top of the podium. It was also the 20th triumph for the brand in the “Green Hell”. In an interview, the three talk about the turbulent course of the race, an emotional rollercoaster ride and the importance of victory in their careers. First question for you: how long was the party?
Nick Catsburg: “Oh, that wasn’t all that spectacular. I was in my room shortly after 2 o’clock. “
Alexander Sims: “It wasn’t a wild party. It was just nice to sit with the team at the bar with a few drinks and enjoy the success. “
Nick Yelloly: “After all, the morning after we were fit enough to have breakfast together.”
Sims: “Really? I can’t even remember that … “(laughs)
But hopefully to the race! How important is the victory at the Nürburgring 24h in your career?
Catsburg: “An extremely high one. These are my favorite event and my favorite route. I put the success on the same level as my victory at the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours 2015. “
Sims: “Together with my Spa victory in 2016, this is the greatest triumph of my career.”
Yelloly: “For me it was the first big victory as a BMW works driver – and the first time that I crossed the finish line at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. To be able to celebrate the big triumph right away is at the top of my list of successes. “
Were you aware of the historical aspect of the win for BMW – 50 years after the first win, 20th overall win and ten years since the last win?
Yelloly (laughs): “Absolutely. We were also able to see often enough in the reporting that this victory was of great importance for BMW. The honor to have clinched this important victory for BMW is correspondingly great. I think we will all only become aware of the whole scope in the next few days. “
Alexander, Nicky, you both were already very close to victory with ROWE Racing in 2017 and then finished second. Did you remember?
Catsburg: “I’ve even finished second twice and said to the guys: ‘I definitely don’t want to come second again.’ And to be honest: When I heard over and over again in the final phase on the radio how fast the competition was behind me catching up, I thought: ‘Damn it, please don’t do it again!’ Fortunately, things turned out differently this time. “
Alexander, how nervous were you when you had to watch Nicky do nothing in the exciting final phase?
Sims (laughs): “Since Nicky was in the car, I was extremely nervous! Seriously, it’s a strange feeling when you’re out there and not in control of things yourself. I had full confidence in Nicky’s abilities, but we saw during the race that the BMW M6 GT3 performed differently in different conditions. Of course you can’t do too much as a driver. “
Nicky, we have to talk about the brakes on the first corner when you passed the Audi that was in the pits …
Catsburg (laughs): “I was just so happy that I was in front! No, it was like that on these last laps the track conditions changed rapidly. At that moment I just overestimated the grip a bit and braked myself easily. Fortunately, that’s not a big problem at this point. “
To be honest: How great was the pressure to have to bring victory to the finish as the final driver?
Catsburg: “There is pressure in every racing situation. The pressure on the driver is also great in top qualifying or at the start. But I was still a little nervous, I honestly admit that. Of course, the stress increases when you keep being told over the radio that the competition is catching up and you have to push. You are already at the limit and have to constantly weigh up how much risk you are taking. On the other hand, it’s of course cool to be the one who crosses the finish line as the winner in the end. I had goosebumps the entire last lap. That was weird because I kept telling myself that I had to finish this round first. “
Under what conditions did the car work best?
Yelloly: “I think when it was really wet our opponents had a clear advantage. But when it got drier, we were able to turn the balance of power in our favor, especially on the ‘Driying Wet’ tires. We were significantly faster than the competition on the drying track. Fortunately, we had exactly the right conditions in the final phase of the race. I even had a full stint on slicks. They also felt very good. “
Did you feel honored to be able to drive the top qualifying and the start?
Yelloly: “That was definitely an honor. It was clear relatively early on that I was allowed to drive in qualifying. We decided on the starting driver at very short notice. It’s nice to get this trust alongside drivers like Alexander and Nicky, who have both celebrated great victories for BMW. “
Alexander, you were in the car when the race was canceled on Saturday evening. Was the red flag the right decision?
Sims: “That was the only right decision. At the time I was running relatively fast compared to our opponents, but honestly it was only a matter of time before a serious accident occurred. There were sections of the route like Pflanzgarten, for example, where you could only guess where you were going. You haven’t seen anything. So the race management did a very good job at this stage, because it was really dangerous out there. “
How did you experience the restart on Sunday morning?
Sims: “It was an emotional roller coaster. My first stint in the wet was really difficult. I had the feeling that I was throwing away our chances of winning, I was so slow. I felt very helpless at that moment. We just didn’t have the pace and kept falling behind. In the second stint it was completely the other way around. The track dried up, the tires worked and suddenly we were the fastest in the field. I overtook one car after the other and had a good feeling again. At the time I didn’t know whether we would really race for victory again. “
Nick, when did you first think, ‘Okay, it’s about victory’?
Yelloly: “After Alexander started his race to catch up and handed the car over to me, I knew we were in a good position. About halfway through my double stint, I had the leader in view and knew: if I can keep up with him, we have a chance. “
How much did it help you to win that the BMW M6 GT3 has already completed so many racing kilometers on the Nordschleife and you know it extremely well?
Catsburg: “That not only helped us drivers a lot, but also the team. The car ran without any problems, and we as a team made absolutely no mistakes. “
Sims: “I think it helped us to get to know the car very well, especially in the changing conditions. As a driver, in such situations you don’t want to be in a car that you don’t yet know exactly how it will react. We all have so much experience in the BMW M6 GT3 that we always knew straight away how much we could go to the limit. “
Nicky and Nick, you’re going to continue next weekend, right?
Catsburg: “Exactly. I’m already back at the airport, because this weekend I’m driving the 8 Hours of Indianapolis for Walkenhorst Motorsport in the BMW M6 GT3 as part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. Of course I would like to see the next win – but only for me, not for Nick!
Yelloly (laughs): “Sure, because I’m also sitting in the sister car. We’re opponents this time, so of course I don’t like Nicky at all next weekend. Seriously, I’m flying this afternoon and I’m really looking forward to driving Indianapolis for the first time in my life. “
Sims: “Okay. While you’re already racing again, I’ll lean back at home and enjoy my success at the Nürburgring for the time being. “(Laughs)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.