TEAM WRT COMMENCES SPRINT CUP CHALLENGE AT BRANDS HATCH
TEAM WRT COMMENCES SPRINT CUP CHALLENGE AT BRANDS HATCH
Three weeks after the kick-off of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe season with the first round of the Endurance Cup at Monza, it is now time for the Sprint Cup to start as well. The competition built on a two one-hour race format promises this year to be as competitive and as exciting as its sister series. Unsurprisingly, it’s Brands Hatch, one of the historical cradles of British racing, hosting the season-opener.
For Team WRT, which has many fond memories from the English track, the challenge will be to conquer the Driver and Team titles for a fourth consecutive year with its new car, the BMW M4 GT3, and a four-car entry.
To say that Brands Hatch is a special place is an understatement. The 4.207-km track in Kent is probably the track that has changed the least over the decades and is, therefore, a fantastic sample of what motor racing was like in older times. Short and narrow, the former home of the British F1 Grand Prix doesn’t allow for any mistakes and is loved by drivers and fans alike, for its old-school character. As per tradition, it will set the scene for the season-opener of the Sprint Cup, the other leg on which stands the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS.
Brands Hatch is also a special place for Team WRT which has enjoyed great success at this legendary venue. In the eight visits made by the SRO-promoted series, the Belgian squad has harvested six wins, of which two were double wins.
The challenge for Team WRT is to keep this record with its new BMW M4s and to retain the Sprint Cup titles that the team has conquered for the last three years. To do so, it will field in the a four-car entry. Three Pro class entries, in which #31 will see Thomas Neubauer starting his season with Team WRT alongside Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, while reigning triple champions Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts will be in #32, and Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi sharing #46. Fighting in the Gold class will be car #30 with young guns Niklas Kruetten and Calan Williams.
With 29 cars entered in the Sprint Cup, the challenge ahead is not easy, as underlined by Team WRT Team Principal Vincent Vosse: “The Sprint Cup will be even more closely-fought this year and it will be important to do well at every round if we want to keep our titles and fight for the overall ones. Brands Hatch is a magic track, one of those places where you can still feel the ‘genes’ of motorsports, and a venue with which we have a relationship of mutual love. I think the BMW M4 GT3 can be competitive there and we head to the UK with optimism.”
Niklas Kruetten (#30): “It will be my first time at Brands Hatch and my first Fanatec GT World Challenge sprint race, so I really look forward to this weekend, and I am curious to find out what’s like to be racing with so many cars on such a small and narrow track.”
Calan Williams (#30): “After starting the season off well with a podium in the Endurance Cup at Monza, I’ll be looking forward to continuing our strong form at Brands Hatch. Being a sprint event, it’ll be a different challenge than the endurance race of the last event, but I’ve been working hard on my preparation and can’t wait to be back on track! Brands Hatch is a new circuit for me, and has the characteristics and challenges of a traditional British circuit, which I’m sure will make it an exciting one.”
Thomas Neubauer (#31): “I am happy to be joining Team WRT for the first time this year. We have very fond memories together from last year, and I’m excited to be at Brands Hatch again, a circuit I love, to start this Sprint Cup journey together with my old friend and former teammate Jean-Baptiste. This year we will be in the Pro category and I look forward to fighting with the big boys!”
Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (#31): “I’m very happy to be back on track after the first race in Italy and to be back together with Thomas. It’s been a while since we raced together. Last year it was a success and it was fun to share the car with him, so I’m very happy to start all over again, on a tight and narrow track such as Brands Hatch. I am sure we will have an interesting and enjoyable weekend.”
Dries Vanthoor (#32): “The Sprint Cup kicks off at Brands Hatch, I really like the track, an old-school one where you can’t afford any mistakes. We are well-prepared, we tested a lot and we should know the window where the car will work in. We’ll try to extract the best out of the weekend, and we’ll try to go for a podium and even victory, although it is going to be tough against a very strong field and with so many cars on track.”
Charles Weerts (#32): “Brands Hatch is always a very good venue where we had success in the past, with some wins and good memories. It is a cool track, old-school and typically British. It will be interesting to see what our BMW M4 GT3 will be able to do there, but I think we have very good chances. The aim is to do the maximum and score good points in our attempt to retain our Sprint Cup crown after three consecutive titles.”
Maxime Martin (#46): “Brands Hatch is a special track, open only a few days a year for testing. I’ve raced there only once, quite some time ago, so it will be interesting to race there with the new BMW and Valentino, who has experience there from last year. We look forward to this beautiful event, it is going to be hard and very competitive, but that’s what we are racing for!”
Valentino Rossi (#46): “It’s nice to start the Sprint Cup, as it is a different type of exercise. I know Brands Hatch from last year, it’s a very particular track, fast and narrow, with a lot of ups and downs and a very British atmosphere. I liked it a lot last year and we had a good result (eighth) in race 2, with a strong second part of the race. We will see how the performance and the speed will be, and hopefully, we can be competitive like in Monza.”
Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe – Sprint - Round 1
Brands Hatch, United Kingdom – 13-14 May 2023
Timetable (Local time – CEST -1)
Saturday 13 May 2023
09:00-10:00 Free Practice 1
12:45-13:45 Free Practice 2
Sunday 14 May 2023
11:05-12:05 Race 1
16:10-17:10 Race 2
Team WRT entry (BMW M4 GT3)
#30 Niklas Kruetten (DE) – Calan Williams (AU) Gold
#31 Thomas Neubauer (FR) - Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (FR) Pro
#32 Dries Vanthoor (BE) – Charles Weerts (BE) Pro
#46 Maxime Martin (BE) – Valentino Rossi (IT) Pro
Team WRT is a leading racing team established in 2010 that has won 55 international titles and prestigious races, such as the Le Mans and Spa 24 Hours. It is the current reigning GTWCE Champion. Through its manufacturing division WRT Manufacturing, Team WRT is also a race car chassis manufacturer, producing and assembling over 100 units a year for external customers.
Team WRT is part of Weerts Group, a family-owned and diversified investment group established in Liège, Belgium, and operating in the Benelux, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Hungary and Romania. In addition to Motorsport, its main activities include Logistics and Real Estate. For more information, visit www.weerts-group.com.
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