Alexander Sims claimed a historic victory in the 48th running of the ADAC TOTAL 24H race at the Nürburgring, which took place on 26-27 September 2020. Together with his Rowe Racing team-mates Nicky Catsburg and Nick Yelloly, the trio executed a faultless strategy during extreme conditions to cross the line first in the #99 BMW M6 GT3 after 85 extremely demanding laps and a race distance of 2,157.13 kilometres.
The victory was a first for both Sims and Rowe Racing in the world-famous endurance race; Sims had helped secure a second-place finish for the team back in 2017. It also marked BMW Motorsport’s 20th overall victory in the race, and coincided with the 50th anniversary of the manufacturer’s first triumph at the inaugural race.
During qualifying, the Rowe Racing trio secured fifth place on the grid thanks to a fastest lap time of 9:08.655 set by Yelloly. As the race got underway on Saturday, the BMW M6 GT3 was unable to match the pace at the front of the field during wet running and lost ground. However, by late on Saturday evening Sims and his team-mates had battled the #99 car back into fourth place. But with the track becoming too wet and visibility too poor, race control suspended the action after seven hours.
After a pause of nine and a half hours, the action resumed at 08:00 on Sunday morning with Sims first in the car. As the track started to dry out, the pace improved with Sims setting several fastest laps in a row before handing the car over to Yelloly in fourth place.
The trio continued its strong pace and edged towards the leaders, putting themselves into podium contention on lap 67. With 90 minutes remaining, the heavens opened and the rain brought with it an exciting end to the race. Rowe Racing pitted the #99 to change tyres while its closest challenger – the #3 Audi Sport Team Car Collection – stayed out for an extra lap and was forced to slow on slick tyres.
Back on track, Catsburg took the lead of the race and sprinted towards the chequered flag. For the remainder of the race, he only fell out of the lead when completing the team’s final pit-stop. He crossed the line with a 15.4-second lead to celebrate the victory.
Of the triumph, Sims exclaimed: “It is simply fantastic to have won this incredible race. The conditions on Saturday were terrible and we really hung on through those tough times, keeping the racing nice and clean. We kept our heads down and stuck to the plan, and that enabled us to make the most of the drying track when that opportunity arose and drive ourselves back into contention.
“When we had a drier line, we could really push – I had a really enjoyable stint on Sunday morning. It was difficult at first on full wet tyres, but as the line started to dry it was great to see the lap times tumble. We were really strong and super-fast. The whole team was boosted by that positivity after a very wet night. Strategy wise, we didn’t put a foot wrong. It was a nerve-wracking final few hours, but we made the right calls at the right time and it paid off. I couldn’t be happier for everyone at Rowe Racing and at BMW Motorsport that we were able to bring home the victory – we have been trying for a long time and that makes the success extra special. It’s a great accolade to add to the victories at the Spa 24 Hours and Petit Le Mans.”
The 2020 ADAC TOTAL 24H race at the Nürburgring will go down in history as fans were unable to watch the world-renowned endurance race from trackside at the Nordschleife as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read my blog to get a feel for what this race is really like to compete in – https://alexandersims.com/conquering-the-nordschleife/