Owens stars in ADAC 24HR
British driver Raoul Owens produced a remarkable series of performances on his 24 hour race debut at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, to put the Walkenhorst Motorsport team into podium contention in the annual ADAC Zurich 24 Hour. While an accident for one of his team-mates late in the second half of the twice-round-the-clock encounter led to a hugely disappointing retirement, having been on course to challenge for second place in the BMW 235i class, the experience was nonetheless an incredible one for Owens.
“Of course, it would have been fantastic to be on the podium or even just finish the race but, unfortunately, the Nürburgring is unforgiving and a small mistake can have devastating consequences”, said Owens, “It truly was a great experience regardless and I will come back stronger next year.”
Having managed to qualify its BMW a competitive fifth in class, the 22-year-old from Pembury elected to start the race on Saturday afternoon and he climbed into the podium placings with an initial stint of eight laps of the 26-kilometre course. As the race progressed into the night, the Walkenhorst Motorsport entry climbed into second place and maintained the runner-up spot with Owens undertaking his longest ever racing stint of three hours, a challenge in itself.
Notably, Owens was then required – despite little in the way of rest between stints – to climb back into the BMW for another double stint due to one of his team-mates suffering some neck problems, which impacted the pace of the No.236 machine. Rising to the challenge superbly, Owens maintained second place into the final 12 hours but an accident at the Carousel for one of his team-mates with around five hours to go brought an untimely end to the race after a fantastic performance to that point.
“Overall the weekend itself as a result was disappointing, but as an experience it was certainly a big learning curve for me and the potential for a podium was without question”, commented the Briton, “I managed to bag us P5 for the start, which was good and put us in a strong starting position, and after a single stint of eight laps I pitted from P3 and made the first driver change. Into the darkness we climbed into P2 where we ran for most of the race. My second stint was a double of 16 laps which was around three hours of driving, the longest stint I’ve undertaken in a single race and in fading light, another of the challenges I faced throughout the race. It was certainly new for me but I kept my head and put in a solid run I was happy with before pitting from P2.”
He added: “I woke early after just a few hours’ sleep where the team informed me I would have to do another double stint. Again, this was a new challenge having to put in another three hour stint with little sleep but I was happy with how I did and managed to keep us in P2 with less than half of the race remaining. It was a shame how things ended as we’d all done a great job up to that point.”
Owens’ goal now is to make the step-up into the GT3 classes later in the year with his next likely track appearance to be at the VLN4 event in early July.