Team WRT has conquered in style its first win in America, by brilliantly winning the Indianapolis 8 Hour, the fourth round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli. Philipp Eng, Dries Vanthoor and Sheldon Van der Linde were at the helm of the winning #30 BMW M4 GT3 on the mythical Indy Motor Speedway. The cars of the Belgian squad dominated the race but the likely prospect of a one-two vanished when car #31 of Augusto Farfus, Maxime Martin and Charles Weerts was involved in a race incident, losing too much time for repairs.

Still, joy prevailed in the Team WRT camp after the race, which vindicated the last-minute defeat lived two years ago. Team WRT Principal Vincent Vosse commented: “It’s a great feeling to celebrate our first win on American soil, although we had two cars that could win and only one made it to the podium. What happened to car #31 and Augusto is a pity, but these things can happen, it’s part of racing and taking risks. I am happy with the great pace we had here, the fact that tyre degradation on this circuit is quite low certainly helped us a lot. Now let’s see what will happen in the IGTC finale at Abu Dhabi.”

From the off, the weekend in Indiana proved positive for the BMW M4 GT3s, with Team WRT duo in the top-five in the various test sessions and car #31 fastest in free practice. In the combined qualifying, car #30 was third right ahead of car #31, making it to the Pole Shootout where car #30 took forth position and car #31 claimed sixth.

The race started in the best possible way, with Philipp Eng in #30 taking the lead from row two and #31’s Augusto Farfus climbing to fourth from the third row. In a few laps, the Brazilian took second and the two Team WRT cars dominated the initial two hours, with the gap between them never exceeding a couple of seconds. The sequence of concurrent pit stops was broken only two and a half hours into the race, and shortly before the mid-race mark, car #30 had to serve a drive-through as Dries Vanthoor’s double stint narrowly exceeded the maximum time.

The setback stabilised the first position of car #31, while car #30 dropped to fifth and started a steady recovery that brought Philipp Eng back to second three hours from the end. Unfortunately, half an hour later, an incident put the leading #31 car out of contention for a podium finish. Engulfed in traffic among lapped cars, Augusto Farfus made contact with a Ferrari and had to the pit with the front left suspension broken. Retirement seemed unavoidable but the Team WRT’s crew managed to complete repairs and the car rejoined the race to eventually finish 16th.

Having inherited the lead, car #30 kept things under control, increasing its advantage up to over 50 seconds and taking an authoritative win.

Philipp Eng (#30 BMW M4 GT3, 1st place): “Hats off to the fantastic performance of our team. They truly deserve this victory. Yesterday, they worked on the car for a long time, and today, everyone did a perfect job. I managed to keep the driver's championship title fight open. Now it all comes down to the showdown in Abu Dhabi.”

Sheldon van der Linde (#30 BMW M4 GT3, 1st place): “I'm thrilled to win this race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on my very first attempt! We realised early this weekend that we had a good car here, and the team did a fantastic job. What a moment to kiss the 'Bricks'!”

Dries Vanthoor (#30 BMW M4 GT3, 1st place): “What a great victory! Thanks to BMW M Motorsport, the team, and my fellow drivers! After the mistake with the stint time, which we paid for with a drive-through penalty, we didn't give up, fought hard, and were rewarded in the end.”

Augusto Farfus (#31 BMW M4 GT3, 16th place): “The collision was my fault. I decided to make the move and overtake the lapped car in front of me on the inside. I went too deep into the corner and hit the Ferrari that was still in front of me, and the car I intended to overtake. It's extremely unfortunate because we had the race under control at that point. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to overtake lapped cars in general. When you have to fight to get past them, such mistakes can unfortunately happen. I'm sorry for the team and my fellow drivers.“

Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli – Round 4
Indy 8 Hour – Indianapolis, USA – 5-7 October 2023

Race Result
1. Eng-Vanthoor-Van der Linde (BMW M4 GT3) 333 laps
2. Gounon-Marciello-Götz (Mercedes AMG GT3) +53s110
3. Engel-Juncadella-Stolz (Mercedes AMG GT3) +53s640
4. Heylen-Snow-Hindmann (Porsche 911 GT3 R) +2 laps
5. McAleer-Bachler-Filgueiras (Porsche 911 GT3 R) +3 laps
16. Farfus-Martin-Weerts (BMW M4 GT3) +11 laps