Alexander secured a second-place finish in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, held at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 28-29 July 2018. The Warwickshire-based racing driver brought home the #99 BMW M8 GT3 and the podium place for BMW Motorsports and Rowe Racing alongside team-mates Nick Catsburg and Jens Klingmann in the 70th edition of the iconic endurance race.
Alexander is no stranger to the undulating track set in the Ardennes; he won the gruelling 24-hour race back in 2016 with Rowe Racing and this year returned with two new team-mates Catsburg and Klingmann. The Rowe Racing trio drove an outstanding race, completing 511 laps and 3,579.05km on the 7.004km Formula 1 circuit.
During the weekend’s qualifying session, the team set a top-20 lap time of 2:20.511 to put he #99 BMW M6 GT3 through to the Super Pole shootout session. In this, Catsburg set a fastest lap of 2:20.239 for 15th on the timesheets, with penalties for other competitors elevating this to an 11th-place start ahead of the race.
With a field of more than 60 cars, Alexander managed to stay out of trouble at the start of the 24-hour endurance event and had worked his way through the field to ninth after three laps. As the Rowe Racing trio each took stints behind the wheel, they kept the #99 BMW M6 GT3 inside the top ten for the first four hours before climbing to the top five by the half-way point.
“Numerous incidents made for a dramatic race, with a serious accident at the famous Eau Rouge corner interrupting proceedings for two hours during the night while the track was cleaned and crash barriers repaired. The Rowe Racing trio managed to escape incident, while the pace and consistency of the #99 was evident after 15 hours, 300 laps and nine pit-stops, as the team climbed into the race lead.
Competition was tough though and the lead continued to change hands as five cars all jostled for position. In the final two hours of the race, it came down to a battle with the Walkenhorst team BMW M6 GT3, which was running at the front of the field. As the two leading BMW M6s approached the final pit-stops there was a gap of 20 seconds between them. Rowe Racing used its ‘joker pit-stop’, which can be shorter than the regulatory minimum. During this, Alexander and the team halved the deficit but despite his best efforts, Alexander was unable to catch his former team-mate Philipp Eng, who he’d shared the Spa 24-Hours victory with in 2016. Alexander crossed the line second, just 10.4 seconds behind after 24 hours of close competition, to make it a BMW one-two finish.
“I’m very pleased to be back on the podium,” said Alexander. “I’m very, very proud of the whole Rowe Racing team and BMW Motorsport. They did an awesome job with this one-two. It’s a shame it wasn’t the first place for us, but I’m extremely pleased with second place and proud of what we achieved.
“I won the race with Maxime Martin and Philipp Eng two years ago and I know that Philipp’s ability is second to none. We were on very similar strategies at the end of the race and I just kept on it to see what would happen. Unfortunately, the gap the team had created was just too much and I wasn’t going to be able to out-drive Philipp. It’s been a fantastic race though and very cool to get a one-two for BMW Motorsport.”
Alexander now heads across the Atlantic to contest in the next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which is the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, held on 3-5 August at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. He’s currently running joint seventh in the GTLM drivers’ classification with BMW TEAM RLL team-mate Connor de Phillippi, competing in the #25 BMW M8 GTE.