A YEAR OF MORE SUCCESSES AND NEW BEGINNINGS FOR TEAM WRT
A YEAR OF MORE SUCCESSES AND NEW BEGINNINGS FOR TEAM WRT
Team WRT was announced Thursday evening as the 2023 RACB Team of the Year. It is the eighth time that the Baudour-based squad has won the most prestigious motorsport prize in its home country, which it conquered for the first time in 2011 and then in 2013-14, 2017-18 and 2020-21.
This achievement nicely wraps up another busy, exciting and successful racing season, which saw Team WRT conquering a second double LMP2 title (Teams’ and Drivers’) in the FIA World Endurance Championship, and marked the beginning of a new era for the squad in GT racing, with the partnership with BMW already yielding a double Gold class title in the GT World Challenge Europe, and further wins in prestigious races.
Next to its racing activities, the manufacturing division achieved new highs in terms of production, capacity and turnover while WRT ESG efforts were brought to light thanks to another SRO Sustainability Award.
At the start of the 2023 season, the racing community certainly had a lot of curiosity, and also high expectations, about the new partnership between Team WRT and BMW M Motorsport. For the Belgian team, which had been associated with the same car brand for thirteen years, it meant a completely new start and a lot of work to familiarise with a new car, the BMW M4 GT3, and new working procedures and partners. An inaugural racing season later, the appraisal is positive and promises a bright future.
The Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS continued to constitute the core of the GT3 racing programme and Team WRT added two more titles to its collection of crowns in SRO-promoted series.
Young guns Niklas Kruetten and Calan Williams won both the Overall and Sprint Cup Driver titles in the Gold class, with four Sprint race wins along the way.
In the Overall scene, there were two Sprint race wins for Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi at Misano, and defending triple champions Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts at Valencia. Needless to say, the maiden Fanatec GT win of Rossi, at his home track, was a very special moment that everybody will remember, and will go down in the history books.
More cheerful moments were lived in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, with wins at the Kyalami 9 Hours, with Sheldon Van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, and at the Indy 8 Hours, with again Vanthoor and Van der Linde, this time associated with Philipp Eng.
Away from SRO-organised series, Team WRT started the year triumphantly with a quintet of drivers (Al Saud, Klingmann, Menchaca, Simmenauer, Vanthoor) taking their BMW M4 GT3 to victory in the Dubai 24 Hours, and giving WRT its third success in the Emirati race.
Later in the year, Valentino Rossi, paired with Jérôme Policand, took his very first GT3 win in race 2 at Road to Le Mans, the well-attended curtain-raiser event that features in the 24 Hours of Le Mans programme. The day prior, the WRT sister car of Tim Whale and Max Hesse won race 1.
2023 was the third full season of Team WRT in LMP2, and also the last, as the curtain fell on the class’ presence in the FIA WEC and, more importantly, Team WRT will start 2024 with its journey in Hypercars, defending the colours of BMW M Motorsport.
Farewell to the Oreca 07 Gibson was given in style at the season-closing eight-hour race in Bahrain with a one-two win. Rui Andrade, Louis Delétraz and Robert Kubica were crowned champions, having previously won at Spa-Francorchamps and Fuji and finished second at the Le Mans 24 Hours, while Robin Frijns, Sean Gelael and Ferdinand Habsburg finished second and on a high note in a season that saw them consistently amongst the front-runners.
The 2023 double-title comes after the one conquered in 2021, and after finishing runner-up in 2022. In total, Team WRT has won 10 of the 19 FIA WEC races contested in those three seasons, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2021, a year in which it also took the ELMS crown.
Car manufacturing activity
Besides racing, it was a positive year for WRT’s manufacturing and chassis-building activity too. Its roll-cage production subsidiary and assembly department further expanded, generated a turnover of roughly 10 million euros and now employs 33 people, for a production of over 100 chassis and 30 car assemblies a year.
Notable developments in 2023 include a facility expansion of 500 sqm and the implementation of a painting department. 2023 marked also the start of the partnership with a fourth large car group, Stellantis, for which 10 Citroën C3 WCR2 chassis were built. Those added to the TCR and WRC2 built for Hyundai, one of our longstanding customers.
For Toyota, a record 26 units of the Supra GT4 were assembled, one of them being the 100th car produced for the Japanese brand, while the EVO I version of this successful racer was introduced, and cooperation started with a new key market such as China. WRT continued assembling Fun Cup cars, at the same time that the EVO3 MoTec engine management system was successfully introduced and Australia added to the market portfolio.
During the current winter, a record number of Fun Cup car orders has already been achieved, contributing to the excellent 2024 prospects for WRT’s manufacturing division.
Team WRT won, for the second time, the SRO Sustainability Award, which comes at a moment when the Weerts Group, and all its divisions, are strengthening even further their commitments in the area of ESG (Environment, Social & Governance). Team WRT has achieved offsetting completely the CO2 emissions from its racing activity and is now on course to obtain the certification from the FIA Environmental Accreditation Programme.
The foreseen move, end of December, of all its activities to a new state-of-the-art building in the outskirts of Liège, will allow meeting the highest BREEAM standards, the reference in terms of sustainability in the area of building construction, and shall be another giant step for WRT into its ESG commitments. The WRT Group is committed to those standards in all areas where it operates, which, besides motorsports, include logistics, real estate and renewable energies.
Team WRT is also contributing to several other ESG programmes, like the ‘Drive fast, act faster’ reforestation project (for the third year) launched by Ferdinand Habsburg, and participates in other initiatives by the Weerts Group, such as the Personal Computers for Education (WPC) which every year provides over a thousand PCs to children of disadvantaged families with the aim to prevent digital exclusion and learning delays.
Vincent Vosse, Team Principal and Co-CEO of Team WRT:
“First of all, I am very happy that Team WRT was awarded by RACB as Team of the Year. Other Belgian teams were shining this year, and it is a great pride to be winning this award for the eighth time.
In GT racing, this has been a year of challenges, as we started our association with BMW. For the team, it didn’t mean to start from scratch, but almost. We are happy with what we achieved although there were some ups and downs. We were very disappointed at the Spa 24 Hours, where one of our cars was leading the race when it had to retire because of contact, we were unlucky in other international races like Macau and Abu Dhabi, but on the other hand, we achieved great wins at Dubai, Kyalami and Indy. In the GT World Challenge, we had two nice Sprint wins at Misano, where we lived a magical moment with Valentino Rossi, and Valencia, where our pit crews were the heroes, and we fought for the title until the very last lap, although this time things did not go in our direction. That gives us a clear objective for 2024!
In the FIA WEC, we closed our tenure in LMP2 with another double title after a faultless campaign. In the three seasons in the category, we had a race win rate of a little over 50%, which is an impressive result that we can be proud of.
Looking into 2024, we want to continue growing and improving, and we are very excited and anxious ahead of the new challenge of being in the FIA WEC on both the Hypercar and GT3 fronts. Representing at that level, a prestigious brand such as BMW, is the result of the good work done by the team and the reputation it has acquired, and we will do everything to deserve the trust that has been put on us.”
Kathleen Schurmans, Co-CEO of Team WRT:
“The year about to end has been again marked by success, growth, and, above all, a sense of accomplishment that makes good vibes resonate throughout our organisation.
Welcoming BMW into our racing division and Stellantis Motorsport among our manufacturing customers is a significant step forward. Celebrating the assembly of our 100th Supra GT4 underscored not only our production capabilities but also our commitment to excellence.
The pinnacle of our achievements came with the FIA WEC LMP2 title. For me, it goes beyond a mere victory; it means, first of all, that we are champions! This sentiment is rooted in the collective hard work of our dedicated teams, the numerous triumphs throughout 2023, and the establishment of a genuine partnership with BMW. The initial nerves and uncertainties quickly transformed into true collaboration marked by mutual respect and shared goals.
Equally important, we have fostered a culture where FUN is paramount. Coming to work with a smile on our faces is, in my view, our greatest achievement. It reflects not only a positive work environment but also the camaraderie and joy that makes WRT a truly exceptional place to be.
As we approach 2024, I am filled with confidence and happiness, knowing that our journey will continue to be one of growth, collaboration, and success.”
10 months ago
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