3rd July 2018
Tom Blomqvist’s first taste of American race action took place on the weekend as he and the No. 24 BMW Team RLL came home at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in 8th place in the GTLM class - with Tom posting the fastest lap of any BMW driver in qualifying and the race.
Being drafted in to share the No. 24 with fellow BMW drivers John Edwards and Jesse Krohn for the Six Hours of the Glen, Tom Blomqvist headed to Watkins Glen International, New York, looking to gain further experience in the BMW M8 after driving the car earlier in the season in the World Endurance Championship at the 6 Hours of Spa.
Now experiencing a new team, a new championship, a new track and only his second race in the BMW M8, Tom used the three practice sessions to get up to speed with everything and was then nominated to qualify the No. 24.
Jumping behind the wheel as the sole-driver for qualifying, Tom put together a fantastic personal performance as he secured 7th place in the GTLM class with a 1:43.277-lap time - out-qualifying the much more experienced sister car by almost three-tenths in his first-ever IMSA qualifying on his first-ever visit to Watkins Glen.
Despite the car not being as competitive as he would have liked in qualifying, Tom remained confident in the car’s pace for Sunday’s six-hour race.
“The car, in general, is good. Our qualifying performance wasn’t up to par today but we are banking on having a consistent car tomorrow. Tire wear can be an issue for some teams, and we have focused on our durability and will try to play that durability card tomorrow in the race. We have extracted the most out of the chassis but there are a lot of straightaways and we can only do so much with the power we have. We can only hope to improve here and there, use BMW M8 GTE’s very good drivability and focus on outthinking the competition.”
Starting the race for BMW Team RLL, Tom put together an impressive stint in the M8 GTLM and recorded the fastest lap of any BMW driver on lap 20 by three-tenths - and the fastest lap in the No. 24 by almost a second! However, Tom’s race took a twist when he came into the pits on lap 27.
Running over a piece of pit equipment at the end of the stop, Tom was forced to return to the pits by the stewards for a drive-through penalty and he returned to the race one lap down - completing his second stint 33 laps later.
Jesse Krohn then took over driving duties for the No. 24, but the car refused to start and was ultimately pushed to the paddock twice for repairs, dropping another 25 laps to the GTLM field after the replacement of the starter motor. Now 27 laps in arrears the car completed the remainder of the race in the eighth position, rounding off a disappointing race for the team.
Despite the result, Tom took a lot of positives away from the weekend and hopes to be back racing in the USA in the near future.
“Watkins Glen was a fun experience! It is obviously a great shame we never had the pace to fight for a proper position in this race, and we ran into some troubles that hindered our end result, but the track was fun. I enjoyed racing with the BMW Team RLL guys, everyone was really welcoming, and I hope to be back here racing sometime in the not too distant future.”