BMW hails WEC progress but «too many mistakes» remain

Andreas Roos, boss of BMW M Motorsport, believes the German manufacturer again “did some steps on pure pace”, even though a series of penalties for its two Hypercar entries prevented it from following up on the points-paying finishes of Qatar and Imola. 

“The pace was there to fight for position five, six, seven,” Roos told after the two BMWs came home 11th and 13th in Saturday’s Spa 6 Hours.

“We did some good lap times and when you look at the screens our cars are fastest in the first sector and fastest in the last sector.”

The pace of the BMW LMDh contender over the fast sections of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is significant as the marque and its factory WRT team build towards the Le Mans 24 Hours blue riband round of the WEC next month. 

Sectors 1 and 2 at the Belgian circuit more accurately replicate the Circuit de la Sarthe than anywhere else on the WEC calendar. 

“When you see that we were able to be fifth in first qualifying, the speed is there to somehow fight for good results,” Roos said. 

“I would not say we are already there with the pace to win races, but on pure pace, we again did some steps.

“We have to put everything together and there were definitely too many mistakes and penalties.”

#20 BMW M Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8: Sheldon Van Der Linde, Robin Frijns, Rene Rast

#20 BMW M Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8: Sheldon Van Der Linde, Robin Frijns, Rene Rast

Photo by: Emanuele Clivati | AG Photo

The #20 BMW LMDh shared by Rene Rast, Robin Frijns and Sheldon van der Linde was awarded two penalties early in the Spa 6 Hours. 

Rast received a drive-through for causing a collision when he and Jota Porsche driver Phil Hanson came together on the run from Malmedy to the Rivage/Bruxelles hairpin.

Frijns, meanwhile, was given a five-second time penalty for gaining an advantage as a result of leaving the track while lapping an LMGT3 car. 

Roos questioned the decision against Rast. 

“Where should Rene go? There was nowhere he could go?” he asked.

Rast had got a better run than Hanson out of the Malmedy righthander after Les Combes and had moved out of the Porsche’s slipstream on the run to the hairpin when the Porsche driver jinked right as he attempted to move past the #46 WRT BMW M4 GT3 driven by Ahmad Al Harthy. 

The rear of the Porsche made contact with the left front of the BMW, sending Hanson into the M4 and the barriers. 

Roos said the incident led to a “double penalty” because as well as the drive-through the #46 WRT entry that Al Harthy shared with Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi retired as a result of the incident. 

The #20 Hypercar entry driven by Raffaele Marciello, Dries Vanthoor and Marco Wittmann received a 30s stop-go after the first named engaged reverse gear after overshooting his pit stall. 

BMW scored a point on the WEC debut of the M Hybrid V8 in Qatar in March after the disqualification of the Ganassi-run Cadillac V-Series.R LMDh and followed it up with sixth at Imola in April.

Fifth place for Rast in the initial round of qualifying was the best performance at that stage of the weekend by a BMW over the first three races this year, though the German ended up only 10th in the Hyperpole session that sets the first 10 places on the grid.

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