Ahead of his 11th Nürburgring 24 Hours with Falken Motorsports, Peter Dumbreck has switched from driving the team’s Porsche, to its new BMW M6 GT3. In conversation with DSC he revealed that the decision was something he was eager to make, ahead of what’s set to be a year of change for the tyre-manufacturer’s motorsport programme, running two cars in SP9 for the first time.
Before, the fan-favourite team has raced with a single Porsche GT3 class, with its highest Nürburgring 24 Hours finish coming in 2015 when its 911 GT3 R came home third overall; now it’s racing with one car each from the two German brands, in an attempt to take the race by storm.
“When I heard that driving the BMW was an option I requested to make the change,” he said, “just because I’ve done a lot of years in the Porsche and I don’t want the experience to get stale, I want to keep learning and stay focused. For me it’s a good chance to drive a car that’s running well and won at the Spa 24 Hours last year.
“It’s a big change for Falken this year, and I think it’s a really positive one. This is my 11th 24 hours with them, and since I’ve been a part of the team we’ve only ever had one car really. We did have a Mitsubishi one time, but it was in a different class, so this is the only time we’ve ever had two front-running cars that both have a chance of podium finishes.”
Dumbreck has only managed limited running with the BMW M6 GT3 so far though, with the VLN Test Day and a private test at Algarve being his only chances to drive the car ahead of the Nürburgring 24 Hours Qualifying Race.
“I’m not fully up to speed with the BMW yet,” he admitted. “We had the usual new car teething problems at the test so I really only had about 20 laps in anger around Portimao, so I need to adapt my style a bit more.
I need to get to the Nürburgring and refresh my memory of the place and get to where I was with the Porsche and go deeper
“I know the Porsche so well, and they are different driving styles. The BMW is a bigger car, the grip in tighter corners is very good. It has a bit better aero in the faster corners too. I need to get to the Nürburgring and refresh my memory of the place and get to where I was with the Porsche and go deeper. It seems that with the M6 you can go quicker through the faster corners.
“My first race will be the 24H Qualifying Race, I won’t appear in the VLN before the big race, but I’ll get plenty of time in the Qualifying Race.”
While the team’s Porsche squad is once again formidable, with Falken driver Martin Ragginger plus Porsche works drivers Jörg Bergmeister, Dirk Werner and Laurens Vanthoor teaming up, the BMW M6 GT3’s crew is by no means a ‘B’ team.
For the big race he’ll be partnered with two new teammates; Stef Dusseldorp – who last year drove with ROWE Racing, scoring a VLN win during the season – and Marco Seefried, who famously finished second in last year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours with HTP Motorsport after the Black Falcon’s winning AMG GT3 took the lead on the final lap.
Falken regular Alexandre Imperatori will also join the trio in the M6 GT3, completing the team’s BMW quartet.
“I know Marco and Stef and I’m really excited to drive with them,” he said when asked about his new teammates. “The thing about the Nürburgring though, is that there’s so many fast guys now, and so many drivers, you kinda keep your head down and go about your business.
“I’ve only spoken to Marco briefly and he seemed so motivated after last year and with Stef, I raced against him back in the GT1 World Championship days, he’s capable too. It’s exciting times.
“You don’t need the four quickest guys to win the Nürburgring 24 Hours though, you need everyone to do a solid job, and have a bit of luck go your way.”
Dumbreck was keen to point out that while running two cars in a GT era controlled so heavily by BoP that it could be an advantage to have two different chassis, but more so that for Falken it’s important for its tyre development. As this year for the first time, Falken can showcase diversity with its GT3 compounds on the Nordschleife, competing with both Porsche and BMW.
At the Portimao test, we did find a tyre that worked better on the BMW, but essentially the tyres off the Porsche go straight on the BMW
It doesn’t mean that both cars need completely new tyres though, as he explained, testing has revealed that the current Falken compounds used on the Porsche work well on the M6.
“At the Portimao test, we did find a tyre that worked better on the BMW, but essentially the tyres off the Porsche go straight on the BMW, and then you run the car. That’s how easy it’s been.
“But we’ve been developing those tyres for Porsche for years, and now we have to focus on two cars and I suppose in a sense we’re on the back foot with the BMW, but saying that we took the car and ran round the ‘Ring in under seven minutes with the Porsche tyres.
“We’re looking at developing them and that might mean we end up with a different compound. It’s early days though and we need to get as much done as soon as possible. But I think we’re already buoyed by the fact that it ran so quickly straight out the box on the Falken tyres.
“It’s important for Falken to be a bit more diverse with its GT3 tyres,” he concluded. “There’s not many places that have open tyre regulations anymore in sportscar racing, so being able to go head-to-head with rival brands keeps them coming back. It’s also gone a long way in getting the team to race with two cars rather than one.
“We’re all really excited that the programme has taken this step, as we have a real chance this year.”
Featured image courtesy of VLN