24/07/18

Tom Blomqvist aims high for Spa 24 Hours

Tom Blomqvist has said he is aiming for a good result at the Total 24 Hours of Spa this weekend as he joins Philipp Eng and Christian Krognes in the cockpit of the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.

The final weekend in July sees the focus of GT racing return to the Ardennes for the 70th edition of the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Tom will be hoping to add to the history of the iconic race; especially as BMW hold the record for no fewer than 23 overall wins - making BMW by far the most successful brand in the history of the Ardennes classic.

BMW celebrated its most recent wins in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, the BMW Z4 GT3 crossed the finish line in first place on its final major outing. ROWE Racing immediately triumphed with its successor, the BMW M6 GT3, when the race car debuted at this classic endurance race in 2016.

Making his debut at the 24 Hours of Spa last year, and despite mechanical issues jeopardising their race, he and the #98 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 drove home in 10th place to finish as the highest BMW.

As Tom’s endurance racing CV grows ever stronger, this weekend’s race with mark Tom’s fifth 24-hour race since joining the BMW programme in 2015 and he is excited to be back racing on one of his favourite circuits.

“I got a taste of the 24 Hours of Spa last year for the first time and I really enjoyed the race. It’s one of my favourite circuits, so obviously I’m excited to be heading back there this year for another crack. Last year, we were fighting for the podium until we had a technical issue so need to make up for that this year. I also have a great team and team-mates to share the experience with. We will be aiming for a good result without doubt!”

Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director, is ‘convinced’ BMW can add to their already impressive record at Spa 24 Hours.  

“In addition to the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and at Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps is one of the real highlights on the endurance calendar. It is a thrilling event and a real festival of GT racing. We are convinced that our BMW teams are set up well for the mission ahead to improve the already impressive BMW statistics at this classic event. Experienced teams, the proven quality of the BMW M6 GT3 and great drivers – the ingredients are right, and as always with a 24-hour race, it's all about having that little bit of luck. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for the BMW teams!”

A 90-minute free practice session will be the first chance for every competitor to sample the track on Thursday at 10:45 (BST), followed later in the day by a 60-minute pre-qualifying session. While similar to free practice, this serves a dual purpose: if qualifying cannot take place, the results from pre-qualifying will be used to decide the grid. As such, drivers have added incentive to put in a representative time. 

A new qualifying format has been implemented for 2018 and takes place on Thursday evening commencing at 19:50. There will be four 15-minute sessions, one for each driver (three-driver crews will bypass Q1). 

The final qualifying time will be the average of the fastest laps set by each driver in their respective session, with the same criteria applied to three and four-driver crews. Should one driver fail to set a time, their car will start behind all of the cars that have set a full complement of times.

Next up, what was previously night qualifying becomes night practice at takes place late on Thursday at 21:30. The aim remains the same: each driver must set at least two timed laps in night conditions to prepare for the race.

On Friday there will be a 30-minute warm-up session open to the entire field. Then attention shifts to the fiercely contested Superpole, where the fastest 20 cars from qualifying battle to establish the first 10 rows of the grid. Each team must choose just one driver, who will complete two full laps. 

And, on Saturday, the main event finally arrives: at 15:30 the Total 24 Hours will begin its landmark 70th edition.