After success at Nürburgring, ROWE RACING makes a swift return to competition in the Blancpain GT Series at Zolder
Former Formula 1 circuit is new territory for the team / Markus Palttala and BMW works driver António Félix da Costa have already reached the podium in Belgium
ROWE RACING did not have much time to celebrate after securing an excellent second place in Sunday’s 45th ADAC Zurich 24h race at the Nürburgring. The last parts and components only arrived at team headquarters in St. Ingbert on Monday. After a “major service” for both BMW M6 GT3s, the team will set out again on Thursday morning to compete in the next event in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup on the upcoming Whit weekend (2nd-4th June). They will be heading for the historic circuit at Zolder, which hosted Formula 1 races ten times between 1973 and 1984 and is now returning to the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup calendar after a year’s absence.
The 4.004-kilometre track is new territory for ROWE RACING, but three of the four competing drivers can already look back on partly successfull experiences there. This is especially true for Markus Palttala, who will be driving the #98 BMW M6 GT3 in the Sprint Cup with his Finnish compatriot Jesse Krohn – the very same car that carried him to the Nürburgring podium on Sunday. Palttala has also reached the rostrum several times in Zolder. He finished in third place at the 24 Hours of Zolder in 2008, and also in an FIA GT series race in the GT2 category. In 2010, he celebrated third place in the GT3 European Championship. In 2011, he claimed second place in the Belcar series, having competed in even in his first race at Zolder in 2005. The event is almost a home race for Palttala, as the 39-year-old driver lives just 100 kilometres away in Eupen, Belgium. Having finished in fourth place at Brands Hatch, the “flying Finns” are currently in third position in the Sprint standings for the Blancpain GT Series.
BMW works drivers Philipp Eng from Austria and Portugal’s António Félix da Costa drove together for the first time at Brands Hatch and will be sharing the cockpit of the #99 car again. Eng competed at Zolder in Formula 2 in 2010 and in the ADAC GT Masters in 2011, while Félix da Costa drove there in the 2008 Formula Renault. He celebrated finishing in second and third place in his first season after moving up from karting.
Qualifying will take place in the morning and both cars competing for the St. Ingbert team will then be involved in the one-hour afternoon qualifying race at Zolder at 15:00 on Saturday (3rd June), which will determine the starting grid positions. The main race, which also lasts one hour, will take place on Sunday (4th June) at 15:30.
Hans-Peter Naundorf, ROWE RACING team principal: “Things certainly aren’t calming down after our successful weekend at the Nürburgring. We leave for Zolder on Thursday, full of motivation. Finishing the two big 24-hour races, at Spa and at the Nürburgring, in first and second places respectively really confirms that we are doing something right. This will be a first race weekend at Zolder for the ROWE RACING team, and it’s like a lucky dip. It is difficult for us to know what to expect there. However, three of our drivers know the circuit from other series, and I myself was there with DTM some years ago. Zolder is not a new track, but an old-school circuit with plenty of chicanes and is just as unforgiving as the Nordschleife. If you go beyond your limits, you quickly find yourself in the crash barriers.”