BMW M Team WRT had a positive first official outing at the iconic Bathurst 12 Hour. The BMW M4 GT3s of the Belgian squad spent the entire race in the front-running group, finishing fourth with Sheldon van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, and sixth with Augusto Farfus, Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi.

It was a perfect performance by the entire team and the six drivers, with no mistakes. At the end, only a lack of top speed pace prevented the BMW M4 to fight for the podium, for which they were in contention for most of the race.

Team WRT Principal Vincent Vosse had mixed feelings after the race: “Let’s just say that we had a disappointing result. Ourselves and BMW were just not given the tools to fight for anything better. It’s an incredible event, at an incredible track and it’s a pleasure to be here. But in those circumstances, it’s a bit difficult. There is a very positive point, all six drivers did a magnificent job. No mistakes at all! They all had similar speed, including Vale which was incredible on his first visit to Bathurst. It’s a nice way to have Augusto for the first time in the team and having Sheldon back after a few years was a pleasure. Maxime, Dries and Charles all performed their usual high standards. There wasn’t a foot put wrong, we learned a lot, we just could not compete with the pace of our competitors.”

The cars performed well from the free practice sessions, with Valentino Rossi impressing everybody by being P1 in the second session, reserved for Bronze and Silver Bathurst rookie drivers. Qualifying saw car #32 fifth fastest but unfortunately, it was demoted to P9 on the grid for a mistake from the team misjudging the drop of tyre pressure from the pit box to the pit exit. Car #46 qualified eighth but got promoted to P6 after the various stewards’ decisions.

The unique race started in full darkness, before a magnificent dawn broke during the first hour. The initial phases saw Augusto Farfus gaining a position up to fifth in car #46 and Dries Vanthoor in car #32 climbing up to seventh and at the first hour mark, they were fifth and sixth respectively. The first pit stops came in lap 33 for car #32 and two laps later for car #46, driven by Charles Weerts and Maxime Martin. After the second pit stop, Valentino Rossi took the wheel of car #46, performing a fantastic stint, climbing up to third and reducing the gap to the lead.

Both cars remained in the top-six during the rest of the race, with car #32 reaching the halfway mark in fifth, right ahead of car #46. The only issue affecting car #46 two hours from the end: the rear lights stopped functioning forcing a pit stop and electrical reset.

Van der Linde crossed the line in fourth, only 44 seconds behind the leader, and Farfus in 6th, after a faultless performance of all drivers and the entire crew.

The next competitive outing for BMW M Team WRT will be on 23-25 February at Kyalami for the second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

Sheldon van der Linde: “It’s honestly my favourite track on the calendar, that’s for sure! I really had high hopes coming here. I have to say my expectations raised even higher when I actually drove the track for the first time. I’m super thankful to WRT and BMW for giving me this chance to finally come to Bathurst. I just want to come back again next year already, because I feel like we have unfinished business. The race didn’t go as we had planned but we’ll have another chance in the future!”

Dries Vanthoor: “Not the result we came for let’s say, but at the end everybody did a great job, team, car, drivers. Nobody made any mistakes. It was just the best we could do for this time. I think we are ‘the best of the rest’! We hope we will be competitive in Kyalami, because both the car and the team are capable of it! We still have things to work on, but everybody did a great job. It was the maximum we could do and it’s good points for the championship.”

Charles Weerts: “First time in Bathurst and my first race for BMW so I’m happy that the car is still in one piece! P4 is good points for the championship, even though we came here for more. We are still learning, but this time, we couldn’t do any more than what we did! Strategy was good, car was good and we executed the job like we needed to. So we can look back and be happy with our performance! On to the next one.”

Augusto Farfus: “I’m very happy, it was my first experience with the team, I didn’t know what to expect. Unfortunately the tail light cost us a better result. But Vale did an incredible job and we had a great team, which gives is a solid base to work upon for a successful season. I can’t wait to continue. We have Kyalami soon, so let’s keep working. Thank you to BMW, WRT and my teammates who did an incredible job.”

Maxime Martin: “A good start to the race, we were okay in the morning. We lacked pace and couldn’t fight with anyone. We were hoping for more than P6 but this is the first race as an official team. We have good things to improve upon and looking forward to the next one.”

Valentino Rossi: “It’s for sure a positive weekend for me and for the team. It felt great to make this race! I felt good with the track from the beginning and I had good pace. It’s a new car for the team but it’s very good to drive. During the race, especially in the hot conditions, we need a bit more pace, but it’s just the beginning of the season! Bathurst is a mythological place! To have the chance to race here is great, you have to pay attention but it’s very enjoyable to drive.”

Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli – Round 1
12 Hours of Bathurst, Australia – 3-5 February 2023

Race Result
1. Gounon-Stolz-Habul (Marcedes AMG)                            323 laps
2. Campbell-Jaminet-Preining (Porsche 911 R)               + 0s926
3. Engel-Grenier-Marciello (Mercedes AMG)                   + 1s417
4. S.van der Linde-Vanthoor-Weerts (BMW M4 GT3)    +44s745
5. Feenway-Van Gisbergen-Gotz (Mercedes AMG)           + 1 lap
6. Farfus-Martin-Rossi (BMW M4 GT3)                          + 1 lap