Last-minute drama deprives Schubert Motorsport of top result at Nürburgring 24-hour race
Schubert Motorsport out of luck at the ADAC TOTAL 24h Race at the Nürburgring. After a successful week with victories in the DTM and ADAC GT Masters, the BMW M Motorsport team from Oschersleben had the 50th edition of the legendary endurance race on its agenda. The debut of the new BMW M4 GT3 at the iconic event in the Eifel region took place in front of 230,000 spectators and went promisingly well until shortly before the end. BMW factory drivers Jesse Krohn, Jens Klingmann and Alexander Sims, as well as their rookie team-mate Niklas Krütten, were in the top five as the best-placed BMW when a technical problem stopped them 30 minutes before the chequered flag.
In the Cup 5 class, Schubert Motorsport was spared bad luck. Torsten Schubert, together with Michael von Zabiensky and Stefan von Zabiensky as well as Japan's Takayuki Kinoshita, completed a clean 24-hour race. In the BMW M2 CS Racing, the quartet took class victory in the cup classification for the BMW M Motorsport customer sports car after having completed 123 laps.
Schubert Motorsport keeps the BMW M4 GT3 in the race for victory for a long time
The start to the weekend presented Schubert Motorsport with a major challenge. In recent weeks, the team had only limited opportunities to prepare for the endurance classic due to its commitments in the DTM and ADAC GT Masters. In the combined qualifying sessions on Thursday, the driver quartet finished fifth in the field of 138 participants. After the third qualifying session, twelfth position was the result before they went into the top-qualifying session.
On Friday evening, Jesse Krohn tackled the qualification over two laps on the 25.378 km long combination of GP circuit and Nordschleife. The 31-year-old Finn was in fourth place after the first attempt, but an unfortunate Code 60 sector deprived him of a second flying lap. In the end, fifth place was not enough to make it into the second round of top-qualifying, which meant 21st on the grid for the race.
On Sunday, Jens Klingmann was given the honour driving the start for Schubert Motorsport. He set off at 16:00 with the first starting group and immediately moved himself towards the front. With an alternate strategy, the team gave him a run in clean air in the early phase of the race to make up further ground against the competition. After two hours, the 31-year-old was already in ninth position before Jesse Krohn took over the wheel for the second stint.
In the evening hours, Alexander Sims and 19-year-old rookie Niklas Krütten held their own in a hard-fought race among the 33 starters in the top SP9 class. At the end of the fifth hour, Schubert Motorsport was already in first position. The performance was also rewarded with the lead at the halfway point after twelve hours. In the morning, however, Alexander Sims came across with the pitfalls of the Nordschleife.
Immediately after the 34-year-old Briton had taken over first place again, he slid off the track after a sudden rain shower. With a damaged tyre, he had to complete half a lap before the BMW M4 GT3 could be repaired in the pits. Schubert Motorsport was still in fifth position despite the noticeable loss of time and had every chance of advancing to the podium in the closing stages.
The final hours became a test for the strategists due to recurring rain showers. The Schubert Motorsport pit wall made the right decisions and kept the last BMW M4 GT3 remaining in the leading group in the fight for victory. With half an hour to go, Jesse Krohn was in fourth place when a technical problem befell him. After a slow drive around the Nordschleife, he made it back to the pits where he had to park the car with damage that proved to be irreparable in the little remaining time.
Jesse Krohn: "I am really disappointed. So much hard work and no result. The team did a mega job the whole race. Everyone worked incredibly hard, just like us drivers in the cockpit did everything we could. It's very frustrating to have to retire 30 minutes before the end. These things happen, it's a very tough race. We saw many competitors retire. I would have liked to have finished on the podium. The team deserved it, but it wasn't meant to be. We'll come back next year and have another shot."
Jens Klingmann: "The Green Hell has lived up to its name for us this year. This race is a sprint over 24 hours where every little mistake is punished. We also saw that with Alex when he suffered the puncture. Things like that happen when you have to push 110 per cent all the time. Nevertheless, we were in a good fourth place and still had a chance of finishing on the podium. To retire half an hour before the finish is very disappointing and doesn't do justice to the great performance of the team. Still, we showed what we are capable of. We want to do even better next year to bring the 21st overall victory to BMW M Motorsport in Munich and stand at the top of the podium with Schubert Motorsport."
Alexander Sims: "The team can be proud of themselves. We had many challenges thrown at us this weekend and we overcame them all. That's the reason we were in such a good position, even though there were a few incidents. I slid off the track at a section where it had rained shortly before. The cloud had already disappeared, but the surface was still wet, so it was very unexpected for me. I was glad that the race continued for us afterwards. Not seeing the chequered flag is very disappointing for all of us. Hopefully next year the team will have luck on their side as well, because the team is really doing a fantastic job. It was once again a great pleasure to compete for Schubert Motorsport."
Niklas Krütten: "The end of our race was extremely bitter. It was really going pretty well. We kept our nose clean and I was very happy with my stints. After the setback in the morning, we fought our way back. Having to retire shortly before the end is a great shame. The team deserved a finish and a good result. My teammates and the crew put in a super performance. Many thanks to the whole team."
German-Japanese friendship celebrates class win in BMW M2 CS Racing
Schubert Motorsport's BMW M2 CS Racing experienced a less dramatic drive in the Eifel. Torsten Schubert took to the grid for the ninth time at the famous long-distance classic in car number 880. The 58-year-old faced the big challenge for the first time together with his two sons Michael von Zabiensky and Stefan von Zabiensky. With the support of 62-year-old veteran Takayuki Kinoshita, things went according to plan from qualifying onwards.
The driver pairing took up the chase in the 365-hp racing version of the BMW M2 from second place on the grid in their own class and 91st overall. After twelve hours, they had already worked their way up into 71st position and were leading the Cup 5 category. During the night, which was dangerous as usual on the Nordschleife, the team stayed on course and was classified in 58th place after 16 hours in the morning. By the time the chequered flag fell at 16:00, the team had made up another ten places and was declared the class winner.
Torsten Schubert: "We have had a score to settle with the Nürburgring for a long time and unfortunately that remains the case for now. Our BMW M4 GT3 was doing well and the guys were fighting for the podium we were aiming for. They did a great job and the outcome of the race was very sad for all of us. We will have to come up with something more next year to achieve our goal. On the other hand, it was very nice to make the finish with my sons in the BMW M2 CS Racing. Thanks to Takayuki for his great support and a big praise to the whole team for their great effort with both cars."
Michael von Zabiensky: "It's sad that the team wasn't rewarded for their hard work with the BMW M4 GT3. But as a unit we showed that we can handle the stress of the 24-hour race at the Nüburgring. In our class we also put in a super team performance and the class win is something we are very happy about. It was great fun to drive this legendary race with my dad and my brother. I hope that we can repeat our success next year."
Stefan von Zabiensky: "We worked very well this weekend and I felt comfortable in the BMW M2 CS Racing from lap one. After the very heavy workload for the team over the past few weeks, we can be proud of our performance. We went through the race without any troubles in our classification and are very happy about the class victory. Of course, the retirement of our GT3 car so close to the end hit everyone, especially when it means losing the chance to finish on the podium. I felt very sorry for the guys. Hopefully they will be blessed with better luck next year."
Team Manager Marcel Schmidt: "The outcome of the race was very unfortunate for all of us. But even though it didn't work out with the podium, we take a lot with us from this weekend. The past few days were an incredible challenge for the team. To compete first in the DTM and the ADAC GT Masters and then to start in the world's most demanding endurance race without a break was a true challenge. I am proud of how our team mastered this task. They have shown that they can cope with the 24-hour race on the Nüburgring even under the greatest pressure. We would have loved to have given ourselves and BMW M the result we deserved together on their 50th anniversary. But sport sometimes writes its own script. We will return next year and try again."