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BMW M Motorsport News, 30th October 2023.

Our BMW M Motorsport News allows us to give you a regular overview of the race action in various championships around the world and any success enjoyed by the BMW M Motorsport teams.

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Björn Lellmann, Head of Customer Racing at BMW M Motorsport:

 

“What successful and exciting season finales! Congratulations to Jens Klingmann and Bruno Spengler on their deserved title with the BMW M4 GT3 in the Sprint Cup within the Italian GT Championship. After the Pro-Am title in the Endurance competition, this is another impressive success for BMW Italia Ceccato Racing with team principal and BMW legend Roberto Ravaglia. Awesome! The title win for Century Motorsport in the British GT Championship last week was equally thrilling and pleasing. Congratulations to Dan Harper and Darren Leung on their triumph in the overall standings, as well as Michael Johnston and Chris Salkeld, who claimed the title with the BMW M4 GT4 in the Pro-Am class. I would also like to congratulate Jody Vullo, and Gianni van de Craats and Sen Roodenburg, who were crowned champions in the BMW M2 CS Racing Cups Italy and Benelux after thrilling title races.”

 

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Italian GT Championship: Spengler and Klingmann claim the title with a podium at Imola.

 

BMW party in Italy: Jens Klingmann (GER) and Bruno Spengler (CAN) won the Sprint Cup title in the Italian GT Championship at a nerve-racking showdown at Imola. “I am particularly proud to win a championship with the BMW M4 GT3 – especially after all the blood, sweat and tears that went into the development of that car,” said a delighted Klingmann after their triumph.

 

“I am thrilled for the BMW Italia Ceccato Racing team and all our Italian family,” said Spengler. “The team did a great job all year. We had to battle right down to the final minute, but it worked out in the end.” The happy ending at the end of a true Imola thriller.

 

The two BMW M works drivers came into the final round of the championship in Emilia-Romagna with a five-point lead in the overall standings. However, the German/Canadian duo then failed to score points for the first time this season in the Saturday race when Spengler was forced into a gravel bed by a rival car shortly before the finish whilst on course for a podium. Despite that, their lead in the championship remained five points.

 

That left one thing certain ahead of the eighth and final race: second place for the #7 BMW M4 GT3 and the BMW Italia Ceccato Racing team would be good enough to wrap up the title. The two BMW M works drivers showed nerves of steel in the showdown in northern Italy. Spengler and Klingmann finished runners-up in the final race of the season to claim their fifth podium and, with 98 points to their name, clinch the title.

 

“It was a very close championship and a battle right down to the last lap. That makes the success all the more satisfying,” said Klingmann. Indeed, it could hardly have been closer for the duo. Spengler and Klingmann ended the season level on points with their title rivals. In the end, the title was decided by better individual results, with the #7 BMW M4 GT3 coming out on top and giving the two BMW M works drivers plenty of cause for celebration.

 

“It was a huge pleasure for me to be Jens’ team-mate,” said Spengler. “He did a mega job and I really hope we can drive together again in the future.” Klingmann was also very happy and full of praise after the season finale: “A big thank you to BMW Italia Ceccato Racing and Bruno for doing a superb job. We will now enjoy and celebrate our success.”

 

Carlo Tamburini and Francesco de Luca (both ITA) finished runner-up in the Pro-Am class in the team’s second car on Saturday, missing out on the overall podium by a whisker. After sixth place in the Pro-Am class on Sunday, the two Italians in the #8 BMW M4 GT3 ended the season third in the Pro-Am table.

 

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British GT Championship: Harper and Leung win the title after a thrilling finale.

 

Dan Harper and Darren Leung (both GBR) won the title in the British GT Championship after a real thriller at the season finale. At the end of a thrilling rollercoaster ride, the duo from the Century Motorsport team finished runner-up at Donington Park (GBR). That was enough for the #91 BMW M4 GT3 to top the overall standings with a lead of 12.5 points after nine races.

 

At one point, the title seemed to have slipped away at the track near Birmingham. 36-year-old Leung took the lead shortly after the start and had opened a 20-second lead over the opposition. However, multiple safety car periods saw that lead disintegrate by the time the pit stop window opened.

 

22-year-old Harper started his stint down in 13th place, but the BMW M works driver then launched an unprecedented fightback and battled his way through to second place. “The car just flew,” said a delighted Harper after the race. “I had the bit between my teeth and risked everything.”

 

His impressive fightback secured the fourth podium of the season for the #91 BMW M4 GT3, having finished runner-up at Snetterton and won the races at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. It also meant Harper and Leung were crowned British GT champions at Donington Park. “The emotions were incredible,” said an overjoyed Harper after the season finale: “When I crossed the finish line, it felt unbelievable.”

 

Carl Cavers and Lewis Plato (both GBR), at the wheel of the #22 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4, finished fourth in the GT4 class. Their team-mates Michael Johnston and Chris Salkeld (both GBR) came home ninth in the #14 BMW M4 GT4 – a result that proved good enough to secure the title in the Pro-Am class.

 

Three questions for ... Dan Harper.

 

What a final race in the British GT Championship at Donington Park! After a number of safety car periods, you started your stint back in 13th place and managed to battle back to finish runner-up. How did you feel when you crossed the finish line?

 

Dan Harper: “The emotions were unbelievable. My race engineer and Darren were bellowing into the team radio and shouted: ‘Well done, we’ve done it!’ When you hear that emotion and see the people hanging off the pit wall, it is an indescribable feeling. It was very tense after the safety car. That was obviously an emotional blow and we thought to ourselves: Oh now, that might be it. When I came out of the pits, I had to be right at the limit on every lap, and I overtook one car after another. Once we were in a good enough position to win the title, I simply focussed on remaining relaxed and bringing the result home. It was an unbelievable feeling and big relief when I crossed the finish line.”

 

What was the key to success and pulling off that fantastic fightback?

 

Harper: “The car was incredibly good. We were fortunate that we had had a few good test days in dry conditions prior to the race weekend. Up until the race, the track had been wet or damp all weekend. That gave us an advantage, as we knew what set-up we needed for the race in dry conditions. The car just flew. I had the bit between my teeth and risked everything. We had nothing to lose and everything to gain – that was basically the spark that ignited the fightback.”

 

How would you sum up your season with Darren Leung and Century Motorsport in the British GT Championship?

 

Harper: “It was really unbelievable. I very much enjoyed driving in Great Britain again for the first time since 2019. I love all the racetracks there. It is my home, so becoming British champion was a big goal for me and the team at the start of the year. Working with Darren was really good fun. It is truly impressive how much work he puts in. We spent a few long evenings at the track analysing data. However, it is all worth it now – and I am so grateful to BMW M Motorsport for making this possible for me. I am also thankful for the faith that Darren showed in me at the start of the year, although I was still so young and a little inexperienced. I enjoyed every single minute.”

 

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ADAC GT Masters: Season finale at Hockenheim.

 

Schubert Motorsport endured a disappointing weekend in the ADAC GT Masters at Hockenheim (GER). Eduardo Coseteng (PHL) and Ben Green (GBR) came home seventh in Saturday’s race. The #20 BMW M4 GT3 then failed to finish the Sunday race. That meant the Filipino/British duo ended the season in seventh place overall.

 

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ADAC GT4 Germany: Podium for the BMW M4 GT4 at the season finale.

 

Marat Khayrov (KGZ) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) ended the 2023 ADAC GT4 Germany season on a high. The Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport duo came through from tenth on the grid to finish runner-up in the #2 BMW M4 GT4 in the Saturday race at the Hockenheimring (GER). “To finish on the overall podium with Gabriele was my big dream for this season – and the final race was the perfect time to make that dream come true,” said a delighted Khayrov after the race at the iconic circuit. The 36-year-old Kyrgyz also won the Trophy competition.

 

Their team-mates Tim Reiter and Leon Wassertheurer (both GER) came home fifth in the #5 BMW M4 GT4 to complete the strong team result in race two: a total of four BMW M4 GT4s made it into the top ten in the final race.

 

Three BMW M4 GT4s had finished in the top ten on the Saturday. Nico Handtke and Mex Jansen (both NED) from the Walkenhorst Motorsport team had battled from twelfth to seventh place in the #34 BMW M4 GT4. That was enough to secure fifth place in the table for the two Dutchmen, just ahead of Khayrov and Piana.

 

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BMW M2 CS Racing Cup Italy: Jody Vullo is the 2023 champion.

 

Jody Vullo (ITA) surprised many by clinching the title in the third edition of the BMW M2 CS Racing Cup Italy, moving ahead of his two title rivals in the final few metres. The driver from the Pro Motorsport by BYmyCAR Milano team won the final race at Imola (ITA) and benefitted from the fact that the two title favourites, Steven Giacon and Gigi Ferrara (both ITA) both failed to pick up points when it really mattered.

 

Vullo’s third win of the season lifted him one point ahead of Giacon and three clear of Ferrara. As such, he was crowned champion in northern Italy. His team-mate Mattia Simonini (ITA) made it a one-two for Pro Motorsport by BYmyCAR Milano. Stefano Stefanelli (ITA) was third.

 

In the opening race, 18-year-old Emma Segattini (ITA) celebrated a dramatic maiden victory, ahead of Vicky Piria (ITA). As in race two, Stefanelli completed the podium in third place.

 

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BMW M2 CS Racing Cup Benelux: Van de Craats and Roodenburg win the title.

 

Gianni van de Craats and Sen Roodenburg (both NED) from the Bas Koeten Racing team claimed the title at the finale of this season’s BMW M2 CS Racing Cup Benelux at the TT Circuit at Assen.

 

The title was decided in the third and final race in the Netherlands. Van de Craats collided with championship leader and pole-sitter Senna van Soelen (NED) in the season finale. While van de Craats was able to continue, van Soelen was forced to retire. That put an end to any title aspirations for the #24 BMW M2 CS Racing and its drivers von van Soelen, Leyton Fourie (ZAF) and Mark van der Aa (NED).

 

Van de Craats and Roodenburg came home fifth after a 20-second penalty for another collision – a result that proved good enough to see them crowned champions in the #53 BMW M2 CS Racing. Victory in the final race at Assen went to Dante Rappange, ahead of Berry von Elk and the experienced duo of Patrick de Vreede and Rogier de Leeuw (all NED). Rappange had previously also won the second of three races at Assen, with van Soelen and Roodenburg following him over the finish line. The opening race was won by Jayden Post (NED) from the Ferry Monster Autosport team in the #74 BMW M2 CS Racing, ahead of van Elk and van Soelen.

 

The title in the Trophy competition had already been won by de Vreede and de Leeuw in the #35 BMW M2 CS Racing.

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