The BMW M Team RLL had a firm grip on a historic first victory for the BMW M Hybrid V8 at the 6-hour race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IMSA series) in Watkins Glen (USA). However, in a dramatic final phase, Connor De Phillippi (USA), leading the race, lost significant time while lapping and had to settle for second place in the last few laps, conceding to the #6 Porsche.
Watkins Glen. The BMW M Team RLL had a firm grip on a historic first victory for the BMW M Hybrid V8 at the 6-hour race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IMSA series) in Watkins Glen (USA). However, in a dramatic final phase, Connor De Phillippi (USA), leading the race, lost significant time while lapping and had to settle for second place in the last few laps, conceding to the #6 Porsche. Nevertheless, a fantastic result was achieved with the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8, shared by De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly (GBR). The strong pace of the LMDh prototype was particularly noteworthy, showcasing its potential to win the race on its own merits. In the GTD class, Paul Miller Racing secured a podium finish with the #1 BMW M4 GT3 after a spectacular comeback.
In the GTP class, the two BMW M Hybrid V8 cars started the race from fifth and seventh positions after qualifying was canceled due to heavy rain on Saturday. In the very first turn, Augusto Farfus (BRA) in the #24 BMW M Hybrid V8 caused a moment of shock as he lost control of the car while accelerating on apparently still cold tyres and crashed into the barriers. The vehicle suffered significant damage, preventing it from being repaired during the race. This marked an early retirement for Farfus and his teammate Philipp Eng (AUT).
During the first hour of the race, De Phillippi collided with a spinning Cadillac directly in front of him, damaging the front of the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8, which had to be replaced. However, he and Yelloly fought back from the back of the GTP field with a strong pace and found themselves in the lead during the final hour of the race. Only in the last minutes, as traffic became heavy with lapped cars, did De Phillippi’s lead of approximately seven seconds diminish. Five minutes before the end of the race, he conceded to the charging Porsche. Although victory was not achieved, the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8 crew secured their third podium finish of the season.
In the GTD class, Paul Miller Racing showcased an impressive comeback. After facing early technical issues with the #1 BMW M4 GT3, drivers Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers, and Corey Lewis (all USA) had already fallen three laps behind. However, through strategic utilization of the yellow flag periods, they managed to make up the deficit and ultimately finished in second place, celebrating on the podium. Bill Auberlen (USA), who shared the #95 BMW M4 GT3 in the GTD-PRO class with Chandler Hull and BMW M works driver John Edwards (both USA), emerged uninjured from a spectacular rollover incident that occurred five minutes before the end of the race, leading to the final yellow flag period that determined the outcome of the race. In the sister car with the number 96, Robby Foley, Patrick Gallagher, and Michael Dinan (all USA) finished in 13th place in the GTD class.
Quotes after the race:
Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “What an exciting battle for the lead until the final lap! Although we narrowly missed out on our first victory with the BMW M Hybrid V8, the podium finish for the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8 here in Watkins Glen is a fantastic result. Congratulations to the two drivers, the team, and our colleagues at BMW M Motorsport! I am particularly pleased that our pace was very strong throughout the entire weekend, and we set the top times. We had the speed to win this race. We continue to improve from race to race and are getting closer to our first triumph in the GTP class. It’s a pity that car number 24 retired so early in the race. Warming up the tyres was difficult throughout the weekend under the conditions. Right after the start, the grip wasn’t there yet, and Augusto lost control of the car. In such a fiercely contested race with strong competition, mistakes like this can happen, and there is no blame. Congratulations also to Paul Miller Racing for their podium finish in the GTD class with the BMW M4 GT3!”
Brandon Fry (Vice President of IMSA Operations and Technical Director BMW M Team RLL): “For much of the race we had a really strong car. Unfortunately right at the end the Porsche was just a little bit faster. But in general we have shown here that we are capable of fighting for wins and podiums in this season with the BMW M Hybrid V8.”
Connor De Phillippi (#25 BMW M Hybrid V8, 2nd place): “It’s frustrating to lose the victory so close to the finish. If someone had offered us second place after the first hour with the collision and the front-end change, we would have been happy. But when you put yourself in such a good position and are comfortably in the lead, the outcome is very disappointing. Ultimately, I lost my entire cushion to the Porsche in just two laps while lapping the LMP cars. That’s IMSA racing. The pursuer always has a slight advantage when lapping. Nevertheless, the team did a great job, we are developing the car in the right direction, and the first victory will surely come.”
Nick Yelloly (#25 BMW M Hybrid V8, 2nd place): “A podium is always a reason to be happy, even though you naturally want to win when you’re so close like we were today. We were up there in terms of speed throughout the whole weekend and led many laps in the race. That’s good news for the rest of the season.”
Augusto Farfus (#24 BMW M Hybrid V8, DNF): “First of all, congratulations to Connor, Nick, Team RLL, and BMW M Motorsport for the podium! It’s a shame we didn’t quite get the victory! The accident with car number 24 is my fault, and I apologize to my teammate Philipp and the team. We knew that with the relatively low track temperatures this weekend, it would be very difficult to get the tyres in the right operating window. But I believed I had done everything in the warm-up lap to have optimal grip at the start. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and I lost control of the car during acceleration. That was ultimately my mistake.”