Lucas Luhr scored his first outright victory at the 24 Hours of Spa last weekend (July 25/26) after winning the Blancpain Endurance Series’ blue riband event by a lap alongside BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS co-drivers Nick Catsburg and Markus Palttala.
It was the first time Luhr, who missed out on victory at the same race last season by just seven seconds, had climbed the top step at Belgium’s fabled GT encounter since 2006 when he won the G2 class, a result that came a year after also claiming the GT2 spoils.
The German was entrusted with the local squad’s #46 BMW Z4 GT3 at the start on Saturday in the worst of the race’s wet conditions. But having reveled in the inclement weather 12 months ago, tyre pressure issues this time around meant he was powerless to prevent the Z4 from slipping to the lower reaches of the top-20 after lining up seventh.
The team’s bold strategy call to then put Palttala out on slick tyres also didn’t pay off, dropping the crew even further adrift of the leaders.
But the fightback began before nightfall when a drying track allowed Catsburg to not only climb the order but, incredibly, establish a lead of more than 30 seconds.
Luhr and Palttala’s subsequent handy work then extended the advantage to more than a lap by the finish on Sunday afternoon, their collective performances not only securing Marc VDS and the Z4’s first major 24-hour race victory but also the 22nd outright win for BMW at the 24 Hours of Spa.
“It’s still unreal, especially after coming so close last year,” said Lucas afterwards. “I’m super, mega happy. It’s great for the team and it’s great for BMW. To do it in the last year of the Z4 is phenomenal. I’m just so happy, super proud.
“I wasn’t sure if we could come back after having such a difficult first stint. It was very tricky to drive, but we never gave up. You have a feeling that you always have a chance. We made it hard for ourselves at times, but in the end we came out on top. I’m disappointed for the other car – it was an unfair end for them. I’ve been in that position plenty of times too, and I really feel for them.”
Luhr returns to his regular TUDOR United SportsCar Championship programme with BMW Team RLL at Road America on August 7-9.