Time has come for the elite of GT3 racing to start the European season. The 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS will kick off this weekend, with the first round of the Endurance Cup. Reverting to what was the tradition, it is the legendary Autodromo nazionale di Monza hosting the season opener.

A four-BMW M4 GT3 entry by BMW M Team WRT will mark the opening of a new chapter in its Fanatec GT World for the Belgian squad, which aims to further increase its impressive collection of trophies in SRO-promoted competitions.

Last year the opener of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe season was exceptionally held at Imola. Things are back to normal this year, as the round takes the short journey back to Monza, its traditional site. The Temple of Speed is ready to welcome no less than 55 cars, distributed in four different classes, Pro, Gold, Silver and Bronze, for the delight of Italian fans.

As usual the competition is expected to be fierce on the centenary 5.793-km track near Milan, especially from the cars of the two Italian brands competing in the series. After an intensive winter testing programme across Europe and three successful outings in overseas races, with wins at the Dubai 24 Hours and IGTC’s Kyalami 9 Hours, BMW M Team WRT is ready to take the challenge to the highest level.

The Belgian squad is entering two cars in the Pro class, #32 for Sheldon van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, while in car #46 Augusto Farfus and Maxime Martin will be paired with local hero Valentino Rossi. Team WRT is well represented, and will seek laurels, also in two other classes: in the Gold Cup with car #30 entrusted to Niklas Kruetten, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Calan Williams, and in Bronze with car #31 in the hands of Adam Carroll, Lewis Proctor and Tim Whale.

Expectations and ambitions run high on the eve of the big start, as pointed out by BMW M Team WRT Team Principal Vincent Vosse: “We are happy to go back to Monza and curious about how we will perform with our new car. We have four strong line-ups and the objective is to fight at the top in every class we are present. Clearly, it is a new challenge that is about to start for us, I cannot make any predictions for this first race, but this is a championship, we want to fight for the titles and it will be important to score good points from round one. I know I say this every year, but it is true every year too: the competition is incredible, it keeps raising all the time! We are both anxious and excited to see where we will stand against our competitors, and totally committed and motivated, as we always are.”

Niklas Kruetten: “I really look forward to Monza, which will be my first race in the Fanatec GT and with Team WRT. Testing went very well, we learned a lot about the car, and I did learn a lot about the team and the way they work. We can have a good weekend, if we are lucky with the traffic, both in qualifying and in the race. We have a good line-up and a good chance to prove ourselves.”

Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer: “I’m looking forward to coming back with Team WRT and new teammates for the new season. We were in Monza testing not long ago and everything went well. We’ll see how it goes on the race weekend, but we are here aiming to fight for victory in our class. It is going to be a long season, it will be key to focus on our performance and take things race by race.”

Calan Williams:
“I’m really excited to be heading into my first-ever endurance race at one of the world’s greatest motor racing circuits. I have plenty of great memories there in single-seaters, so I look forward to creating even more in this new discipline. I’ve been putting in heaps of preparation and I’m ready to tackle this new step in my career. While I’m confident in myself, I’m also open-minded to these new challenges. It’s the beginning of a really exciting journey for me, and I’m so glad to be starting that journey with a team as successful as WRT.”

Adam Carroll:
“Monza is a great track with a special old-school atmosphere, it’s a fantastic place to start our season with WRT, Tim and Lewis in the BMW. Our class is super competitive with 17 cars and with 55 cars on the grid in total, it’s going to be a busy weekend, we will push hard and do our best.”

Lewis Proctor:
“I cannot wait to get started with the Monza race weekend! Testing was a busy period and lots was learnt as a team and with the new BMW M4 GT3. I am super excited to get started at the Temple of Speed this week.”

Tim Whale:
“I am really excited with the GETTRX-backed car to get my first season in the Fanatec GT underway. I’m very proud to be driving for such an esteemed team as WRT with such fast teammates, Adam and Lewis. It’s a huge step for me and a fabulous opportunity thanks to GETTRX. Let’s go!”

Sheldon van der Linde:
“I’m very happy to kick off the European season with Dries and Charles at one of my favorite tracks. I haven’t been there in the last two years but I know the track pretty well and it should suit our cars well. I’m very much looking forward to possibly even getting on the podium. We had a reasonable success in Kyalami, and we’d love to go for the podiums this year.”

Dries Vanthoor:
“We are off to a good start in the European season, as preparation races in the Intercontinental GT Challenge were successful. As a team, we now know how the car works and we are going to Monza with some expectations, we can aim at a good result and maybe a podium. Let’s see how it goes.”

Charles Weerts:
“I look forward to the European season with the BMW, it’s going to be an exciting first race of the Endurance Cup, a championship I personally never won and where I want to perform well. It’s good to be back in the car after one month, we’ll try to do well against a very competitive field and let’s see what the weekend brings.”

Augusto Farfus: “For me, Monza is the opening of a new chapter, with the start of the European season together with Maxime and Vale. We had a long winter preparation, we are up to speed and well-prepared. In the Endurance Cup, to have a good weekend, you need to have everything perfect and in Monza it will be important to collect many points and be on a good path from the start.”

Maxime Martin:
“I am really excited ahead of this first official race of the European season together with Augusto and Vale, for whom it will be home race, and I am really looking forward to it and to trying to have a good result.”

Valentino Rossi: “At last! I am happy to start the European season with Team WRT and the new car, and to do it at a track such as Monza, which is fantastic, historical and in Italy! It will be my first time there with WRT, as last year we raced in Imola. It will be an important race to understand the competitiveness of the BMW M4 GT3. I did two preparation races, Dubai and Bathurst, and we had a lot of testing all over Europe, we progressed a lot in the understanding of the car, but there is nothing like a real race weekend, competing against all your opponents, to evaluate its potential, speed, and behavior. With 55 cars on track, it will be a real challenge and we’ll see where we are.”

Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe – Endurance Cup - Round 1
Monza, Italy – 21-23 April 2023

Timetable (Local time – CEST)

Friday 21 April 2023

17:00-18:00 Bronze test

Saturday 22 April 2023
09:00-10:30 Free Practice
13:40-15:10 Pre-qualifying

Sunday 23 April 2023
09:00-10:00 Qualifying (Drivers 1 – 2 – 3)
15:00-18:00 Race (3 hours)

BMW M Team WRT entry (BMW M4 GT3)
#30 Niklas Kruetten (DE) – Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (FR) – Calan Williams (AU) Gold
#31 Adam Carroll (GB) – Lewis Proctor (GB) – Tim Whale (GB) Bronze
#32 Sheldon van der Linde (ZA) – Dries Vanthoor (BE) – Charles Weerts (BE) Pro
#46 Augusto Farfus (BR) – Maxime Martin (BE) – Valentino Rossi (IT) Pro