The final round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup at Barcelona wasn’t what Team WRT expected. The well-known pace issues encountered during the season and the events occurred during the race, including a very long safety car period in the final hour, prevented the BMW M4 GT3s of the Belgian to come back and finish in the top-10. Some valuable points though were salvaged in the Gold and Bronze Cups.

Team WRT Principal Vincent Vosse was frustrated after the race: “Obviously, it’s a disappointing weekend. We had a few things happening during the race, at the pit stop for car #30 and on-track for cars #46 and #32. This resulted in not being able to fight for the victory this time. We had ups and downs throughout the weekend, and the down was certainly in qualifying, where we could not do better than 17th. This put us in a difficult position for coming back during the race. We could have hoped for a better result, but it is how it is, we must continue working. We will be in Indianapolis next weekend for the Intercontinental GT and let’s see what we can do.”

The weekend started with car #46 topping the first private test and car #32 the first free practice session, but that proved to be a short-lived situation as in the rest of the track runs the BMW M4 GT3s suffered again from a lack of pace and grip. In qualifying, the best-placed car, #32 was 17th, with #46 in 19th. The two other cars were further back, with #30 7th in the Gold Cup and #31 14th in the Bronze Cup.

The start of the race was given in very warm weather and was relatively quiet for the cars of the Belgian squad, despite the intense traffic. Charles Weerts climbed up to 13th in car #32 during his stint, while Valentino Rossi (#46) was 17th shortly before the pit stop, before he made a small mistake and became stuck in the gravel trap. That prompted many cars to do their pit stop under Full Course Yellow conditions, before the inevitable safety car period. Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer gave the wheel of car #30 to Calan Williams in sixth position in class, and Tim Whale did the same with Lewis Proctor with car #31 in 15th position among Bronze cars.

Thanks to the excellent pit stop and a very good stint, and despite car #32 being hit by a rival and losing a big section of the rear bumper, Sheldon Van der Linde charged back to 10th, with Williams gaining one position up to fifth in the Gold Cup and Lewis Proctor stabilising in seventh in the Bronze Cup.

A long safety car period caused by oil on the track marked the first half of the last stint, leaving only 24 minutes of real racing, where Dries Vanthoor lost one position, finishing 11th, while Niklas Kruetten gained one up to fourth in the Gold Cup, and Jesse Krohn crossed the line in 7th in Bronze.

Calan Williams (#30): “It was a pretty frustrating weekend for us, we struggled quite a lot sinc the beginning with the car balance and it ended up in going into qualifying and the race with a lot of unknowns. Still, we tried to persevere and make out the most out of a difficult race. Unfortunately, we had a really tricky situation at the pit stop because the pit stop window was just when there was a full course yellow, and obviously the entire field was pitting at the same time. The car couldn’t stop at the right place and we lost thirty seconds to reposition it. We then had to fight back in the middle of slower cars, it’s frustrating but we will not give up, this actually motivates me even more ahead of the last race.”

Niklas Kruetten (#30): “It was a difficult weekend, struggling a lot, but it is what it is. Jean-Baptiste made up good positions, but then there was this issue at the pit stop. Calan and I tried to come back, but the gap was too big, and we ended fourth in the Gold Cup. It’s never finished until it is finished, but now it will b tougher for the championship.”

Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (#30):”Overall, a decent performance in the race, it’s a shame we had that problem during the pit stop, because a better re0sult was pos0sible but we still managed to come back quite well.”

Jesse Krohn (#31): “It was a pleasure to be with Team WRT, one of the best if not the best GT team, and to work with Tim and Lewis, I enjoyed the weekend very much. Result-wise, things didn’t go as planned but very productive work was done, we kept improving through the sessions and the feeling was very positive.”

Tim Whale (#31): “What an epic day, a tremendous work to round up the season, and a massive thanks to Team WRT, who are masters of strategy, and to Jesse and Lewis for ther amazing efforts to bring the car from 50th to 29th. It was a great way to finish my first season with Team WRT.”

Lewis Proctor (#31): “Good to go forward in the race, it was always going to be tough with the degradation. But the team did a really good with the pit stops and all three of our drivers performed really well. Happy to get a top-10 result in class!”

Sheldon Van der Linde (#32): “It’s been a super trying weekend, we couldn’t put together all together in qualifying and we were not close enough to the front for the race. With such a competitive field, it is very difficult to come back if you don’t qualify well. I had a lot of fun in my stint, fighting with a lot of cars in front of me, overtook 3-4 cars in the process. We learnt a lot of things about the new car, we are still in the development phase and there is a lot of positive we can bring onto the next year.”

Charles Weerts (#32): “We lacked pace at the beginning of the weekend, but we worked in the good direction, although we had a difficult qualifying. This prevented us to get a good result, despite the car being quite good in the race, as it is very difficult to overtake in this track.”

Dries Vanthoor (#32): “Not a great weekend, we couldn’t find enough pure competitiveness to fight for top positions. For sure our qualifying was compromised by traffic and some unlucky moments that cost us a lot. Still, we were doing a decent race but with so many yellows, we certainly could not obtain what we wanted.”

Valentino Rossi (#46): “It’s a pity because we were doing a decent race. I did a mistake after the restart, as I was very close to the car in front. I exited turn 7 too aggressively and lost the car. Earlier, in the initial laps, I touched a McLaren and got a 10-second penalty. We had quite a tough weekend here in Barcelona, we were not where we wanted.”

Maxime Martin (#46): “It’s a shame. We certainly didn’t have the best car today, but still, we could have done something. Mistakes are part of racing, so let’s look forward to the next one, which will be a Sprint race and let’s aim at a podium.”

Augusto Farfus (#46): “We had a short race! It would have been a difficult one due to the high temperatures. I really enjoyed this season with Max, Vale and the team. Hopefully we can repeat and get all the success we deserve.”

Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup – Round 5
Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain, 29 September – 1st October 2023

Race results:

1.Schwartzman-Rovera-Nielsen (Ferrari 296 GT3) 88 laps

2. Fuoco-Serra-Rigon (Ferrari 296 GT3) + 0s422
3. Preining-Heinrich-Olsen (Porsche 911 R) + 2s328
4. Engel-Schiller-Stolz (Mercedes AMG GT3) + 2s770

5. Gounon-Marciello-Boguslavskiy (Mercedes AMG GT3) + 4s413

11. Van der Linde-Vanthoor-Weerts (BMW M4 GT3) +12s228

21. Kruetten-Simmenauer-Williams (BMW M4 GT3) +26s091 (4th in Gold Cup)

29. Proctor-Krohn-Whale (BMW M4 GT3) +54s005 (7th in Bronze)

DNF Farfus-Martin-Rossi (BMW M4 GT3) 35 laps (off-track)