After securing a sensational 1-2 in qualifying among the GTE-Pro entrant at the 6 Hours of Imola, problems meant that BMW Motorsport could only take a third place away from the Italian track.
From the start of the race the two starting drivers for the Schnitzer Motorsport run team held their starting positions, Jorg Muller in the no.55 car leading his fellow German Dirk Werner in the sister no.56 BMW M3.
However, problems took their toll on the team. With the race being run in searing heat, outside temperatures reaching 30°C, the cooling systems in the GT cars were being worked hard in order to keep cockpit temperatures below the 32°C as demanded by the regulations.
The air conditioning in Werner's car malfunctioned, tumbling down the order before coming into the pits for a lengthy stop to fix the troublesome unit. In total the stop cost 30 minutes before the car returned to the track, the delay meaning that Werner and co-driver Pedro Lamy could only manage eighth place in class.
“It's always disappointing if you are running in such a good position and then drop back due to a problem,” said Werner. “The team tried everything to fix it, but repairing the air conditioning in a race car is a complicated and time-consuming affair. That's why we are leaving Imola empty-handed.”
The repairs to the no.56 car came at almost exactly the wrong time for the Muller in the no.55 car. Even while leading the class driver and team had lost radio communication with each other, so when contact with a prototype car on track damaged the right front wheel. Scrambling to make it back to the pits, but unable to warn the team still tending to the other car the team were unable to make the preparations – specifically having the fire extinguisher in the correct place when the car reach the pits – demanded by race stewards.
The car, which Muller shared with Augusto Farfus, was assessed a one minute stop-go penalty that cost the duo the lead, falling to third in class behind the two AF Corse entered Ferrari 458.
Despite missing out on class victory team manager Charly Lamm concentrated on the good points from the weekend.
“There are two positive facts that we should take back home from Imola,” he assessed. “The performance of our two BMW M3 GT cars was excellent. In addition, I want to pay a compliment to Dunlop. We had very strong tyres in what was the first real hot race of the season. The no. 55 BMW M3 GT was in the lead for long parts of the race.”
“We proved again in this race that we can really push with the BMW M3 GT,” said Farfus. “Unfortunately this wasn't enough today to secure victory. I think this is what you call a chain reaction. Nevertheless, we should focus on the positives. The car is great, and with temperatures as high as today, the Dunlop tyres perform even better.”