Blomqvist helps Rowe Racing to sixth in Italy

PUBLISHED: 16:34 04 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:25 04 April 2017

Tom Blomqvist. Picture: BMW Motorsport

Tom Blomqvist. Picture: BMW Motorsport

Andreas Beil

Tom Blomqvist capped a remarkable turnaround as he secured a sixth-place finish at the opening round of the Blancpain GT Series

The Saffron Walden racer returned to competitive action at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Italy, after receiving a late call-up to fill the gap caused by Antonio Felix da Costa’s Formula E commitments.

Tom was drafted in to the Rowe Racing team to partner Philipp Eng in the #99 BMW M6 GT3 but had a difficult Friday testing which saw the team finish the first practice session in 28th place and the second in an improved 25th.

With only 30 cars on the grid for the weekend’s racing, things were looking bleak for the team but Tom remained confident in the car’s ability – acknowledging that one-lap pace was not the M6’s strength.

Saturday’s qualifying saw the BMW secure 25th position on the grid for the evening qualifying race which increased the pressure to perform heading into the hour-long race.

Tom started in the car for the qualifying race but in the darkness of Saturday night, Will Stevens lost control of his Audi R8 LMS and sent the car into a spin on a high-speed corner.

With all the vehicles closely packed together and with minimal visibility, one car collected the spinning Audi resulting in a multi-car pile-up which caused the race to be red flagged and saw several cars retire from the race.

When it finally concluded, Tom and Philipp had navigated the #99 BMW up the order and passed the drama to 16th to secure eighth row of the grid for Sunday’s race.

Tom manned the BMW for the opening half hour and had moved up to 10th just before the six-minute mark before, following a spin-out of a Mercedes and Lamborghini, they edge up two more places to eighth.

At the 25-minute mark, the pit window opened and a lap later Tom dived into the pits for the mandatory stop and driver change. A quick stop saw the team rejoin the race a position better off than they were prior to the stops.

Now running in seventh position and with Philipp Eng behind the wheel, the #99 BMW swept past the sister #98 BMW to claim a sixth-place finish.

Tom said: “We made steady progress throughout the course of the weekend and a sixth-place was the best we could manage.”

Next up for Tom is a week in Hockenheim, Germany, for the official DTM tests in preparation for the first round at the beginning of May.

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