A stop-and-go penalty in the last hour of the race cost BMW Team Schnitzer a win in the Imola Six Hours, the fourth round in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
The team’s M3 GTs qualified on the GTE Pro Class front row; the #55 M3 of Augusto Farfus and Jörg Müller was on the pole, with the #56 of Dirk Werner and Pedro Lamy second.
The cars ran in the front of the pack, with #55 leading much of the way. The #56 car fell back with an air conditioning problem. The rules specify a maximum cockpit temperature of 32º Celsius, a temperature that could not be maintained without a lengthy repair that took the car out of contention.
Meanwhile, car #55 appeared to be poised for the win, holding off the AF Corse Ferraris until the final hour of the race. Then, with Team Schnitzer’s crew busy repairing #56, Müller had to pit #55 because of damage to the right front tire’s air valve caused by contact with a prototype. As #55’s radio was out, the team did not know the car was coming, and was not able to prepare for the stop. BMW’s official press release says that car #55 was given a stop-and-go penalty because the fire extinguisher was not in the right place when the car arrived. Other accounts say that there were too many crew members working on the car.
Regardless, the penalty dropped the car to third. It was able to regain second for a time, but had to make a stop (reason unspecified) minutes from the end of the race, and fell back to third, where it finished, behind the Ferraris of Toni Vilander/Jaime Melo and Giancarlo Fisichella/Gianmaria Bruni.
BMW Team Schnitzer won a VLN race at the Nürburgring in early April. Since then, it has finished on the podium in six consecutive races without a win, including the late April VLN race at the Ring, the Spa round of the ILMC, a May VLN race at the Ring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Nürburgring 24-Hour race, and now the Imola six-hour race.
All six hours of Imola were run in green flag conditions on a very hot day. Peugeot 908s dominated the prototype field, with Sebastien Bourdais and Anthony Davidson taking the win and their teammates Franck Montagny and Stephane Sarrazin finishing second.
Immediately after the race it appeared that BMW was tied with Ferrari for first in the ILMC GTE standings. But a later disqualification of the Porsche that finished second in the GTE Am class moved Ferrari up to first and demoted BMW to second in the standings. (Points are tabulated across the GTE Pro and Am classes). The next ILMC race is the Six Hours of Silverstone in September.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.org
Back to News