The No. 96 Katerra BMW M6 GT3 of Turner Motorsport battled the record setting 27-car GTD field for an impressive eighth place finish in the 55th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Sunday to kick off the 2017 Weathertech SportsCar Championship.
The driver lineup of Justin Marks, Jens Klingmann, Jesse Krohn and Maxime Martin completed 628 laps to cross the line amongst the top-ten of GTD after what was a grueling 24 hour endurance test on the 3.56 mile 12-turn Daytona International Speedway road course. Marks kicked off the twice-around-the-clock race with a solid opening stint to begin the team’s charge to the front of the GTD. Early on, Marks was able to fight his way up and into the top three from the 17th place starting position battling against some of the best GT drivers in the world. ’The BMW M6 GT3 was a blast to drive, we really had a great car from flag to flag,’ Justin Marks said. ’I was able to get up to speed quickly and drive with confidence. The car is very well balanced and extremely user friendly which makes it enjoyable to race hard in tough competition.’ Klingmann continued on after the second pit stop to find his way back to the front of the GTD field before handing driver duties over to Jesse Krohn. Krohn pushed forward to complete his flawless first double stint to drive from eleventh up into the top five before handing the No. 96 over to Maxime Martin. With just over nine hours completed, Marks was contacted by the No. 4 GTLM Corvette subsequently breaking the front right tie rod forcing the No. 96 M6 GT3 to the garages for repairs. Despite a quick repair made by the crew, the No. 96 lost seven laps to the GTD leaders. ’The car had good pace and the team executed well both on track and in the pit lane,’ Justin Marks said. ’This is a very difficult race to experience problem-free and we certainly had ours but everyone kept digging hard and never wavered so I think we can be proud of a top-10 result.’ Racing into the night, drivers battled ever changing, very wet and extremely challenging conditions working to make up laps. Despite sensational stints by all four drivers throughout the overnight hours and an extremely reliable BMW M6 GT3, the team was never able to secure their spot back amongst the GTD class leaders. ’I can’t say enough about the talent and consistency of our drivers throughout the entire race, especially in the brutal overnight hours,’ Will Turner said. ’The car ran flawless with no issues besides the contact that put us down. The drivers did a great job keeping it clean for the rest of the race.’ As daylight broke, the Turner No. 96 consistently ran inside the top ten, recording consistent lap times in an effort to make up as many laps as possible closing in on the 18 hour mark. The No. 96 sat tenth with 572 laps completed and just one lap down to the ninth place position with just three hours remaining. Attrition began to claim several GTD cars late in the race allowing the team was to take advantage of full course cautions to make up two more positions before the checkered flag. ’The entire team, especially our pit crew and guys on the box, did a fantastic job keeping us in this race,’ Turner added. ’I’m proud of everyone for getting us to the finish line with an eighth place finish. It’s too bad we had that repair earlier on in the race, as I think we could have been a top three contender at the end.’ Klingmann worked hard in the final hour to hold onto eighth position to cross the line after 24 hours to complete the teams eighth Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona. Turner Motorsport will be back on track with the No. 96 Katerra BMW M6 GT3 for the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 18th for round two of the North American Endurance Cup as part of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.