The fourth round of the Fanatec GT World Endurance Cup did leave a sense of frustration in Team WRT, as the BMW M4 GT3s were denied the chance to fight with the front-runners. Still, the Belgian squad was the only team to get a BMW in the top 10, thanks to Sheldon Van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, who finished seventh, and clinched another podium in the Gold Cup with Niklas Kruetten, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Calan Williams, who take very valuable points towards the class title fight. Lewis Proctor, this time partnered with Jens Klingmann and Darren Leung, took sixth in the Bronze class.

Team Principal Vincent Vosse was philosophical at the end of the race: “You don’t need to be a Formula 1 engineer to see that we were lacking speed and pace. Still, once again we extracted everything we could from the race: car #30 takes another Gold Cup podium, which is excellent news, and the three other cars had a great recovery, with #32 finishing in the top ten and best BMW, car #31 also having a good race and car #46 unfortunately stopped by an incident with a back-marker that was in the way. We did the best we could do and hopefully, we will be in a position to be more competitive in the next races.”

It was clear from the beginning of the weekend that the BMW M4 GT3s were lacking pace with respect to rival cars, both on dry and wet track conditions, and this got reflected in the results of qualifying, held under the rain. Car #32 took 17th on the grid, with car #46 in 22nd. Car #30 was fifth-fastest in the Gold Cup and car #30 sixth among Bronze contenders. The line-up of the latter saw some changes, as Tim Whale, who is recovering from back surgery, and Adam Carroll were not available. Associated with Lewis Proctor for this occasion were British GT Championship GT3 race winner Darren Leung and BMW works driver Jens Klingmann.

The start of the race, in perfect conditions, was as lively as could be expected. There were no particular issues for the Team WRT drivers, as Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer in car #30 made the best progress up to 17th at the end of the first lap, with #46’s Valentino Rossi 21st, Charles Weerts 16th after #32 dropped a few positions in the heavy traffic, and Darren Leung 29th.

All four cars climbed steadily through the ranks during the first stint, with Simmenauer getting to the pit stop as third in the Gold Cup and 13th overall, Weerts 17th right ahead of Rossi, and Leung sixth in the Bronze Cup.

Sheldon Van der Linde, in car #32, had an impressive stint, rising to ninth thanks to some great overtakes, with Calan Williams 15th and holding a firm third in the Gold Cup, Augusto Farfus stable in 17th, and Lewis Proctor sixth among Bronze. Unfortunately, a few minutes into the final third of the race, Maxime Martin had unavoidable contact with a back-marker and car #46 had to go back into the pits where it retired.

For the other cars, the situation kept stable, with #32’s Dries Vanthoor running ninth and finishing seventh, Niklas Kruetten taking another podium finish in the Gold Cup and Jens Klingmann securing sixth in Bronze.

Niklas Kruetten (#30): “Overall, it was a tricky weekend, on a track that does not suit the BMW. Still, we managed to get a podium, which is good for the championship. It’s going to be tough anyway, Barcelona may not be the best track for us either, but first, there is Hockenheim and there we should be OK.”

Calan Williams (#30): “Considering where we started from, it’s a good result, we got more points and we’ll work hard to get second in the Endurance Gold Cup, we’ll see at Barcelona. Maybe today we could have finished second, we’ll debrief now to see what we could have done better, but it is still is a good day.”

Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (#30): “It’s good to be on the podium again, we did the best we could and I really think a win was not achievable today. Now let’s focus on Barcelona, it will be nice to finish with a win.”

Jens Klingmann (#31): “It was a great pleasure to be with Team WRT again. In terms of overall performance, it was a challenging weekend and we knew it was not the most favorable track for us. It was the first time at the Nürburgring for Lewis and Darren, but we made huge progress, stayed out of trouble in the race, despite being stuck in the traffic, and I am happy with what achieved.”

Dries Vanthoor (#32): “It was a difficult race, but there is little more we could have done. We gave everything and maybe we could have been sixth, but no better than that. We had a good comeback after a difficult start, where we dropped many positions, we learnt a lot and hopefully we will be stronger in the forthcoming races.”

Maxime Martin (#46): “It was not the weekend we were looking for and it ended when I had contact with a slower, lapped car. A lot of things were happening on the track and clearly, if nobody takes any action, these incidents happen. It’s a shame, but now let’s focus on the next one.”

Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup – Round 4
Nürburgring, Germany, 29-30 July 2023

Race results:

1. Marciello-Boguslavskiy-Gounon (Mercedes AMG GT3) 92 laps

2. Engel-Schille-Stolz (Mercedes AMG GT3) + 1s990

3. Feller-Drudi-Marschall (Audi R8 LMS GT3) +17s748

4. Mies-Niederhauser-Gachet (Audi R8 GT3) +29s483

5. Preining-Heinrich-Olsen (Porsche 911 R GT3) +35s567

7. Van der Linde-Vanthoor-Weerts (BMW M4 GT3) +1m03s923

16. Kruetten-Simmenauer-Williams (BMW M4 GT3) +1m40s769 (3rd in Gold Cup)

28. Klingmann-Leung-Proctor (BMW M4 GT3) +1 lap (6th in Bronze)

DNF Farfus-Martin-Rossi (BMW M4 GT3) 66 laps (damage)