BMW M TEAM WRT READY FOR EXCITING HYPERCAR AND GT CHALLENGES IN 2024
BMW M TEAM WRT READY FOR EXCITING HYPERCAR AND GT CHALLENGES IN 2024
Team WRT held its traditional Winter Party tonight in Spa, where 220 people, composed of the WRT family, their partners, drivers, and special guests, gathered in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere to celebrate the successes of 2023, and officially launch their 2024 racing programmes.
The two co-CEOs of Team WRT, Kathleen Schurmans and Vincent Vosse, took stock of the achievements reached last year, in racing and car manufacturing, and set the objectives for 2024. A delegation of BMW, the racing partner of the Belgian squad, led by Andreas Roos, Head of BMW M Motorsport, attended the event to stress the importance of the cooperation initiated last year.
Among the many friends and special guests that were present, there were some well-known figures. To name two, Robert Kubica and ORECA’s Hugues de Chaunac, were celebrated for their contribution to one of the most successful programmes undertaken by Team WRT, the LMP2, which came to an end last year.
Everybody’s focus now is on what comes next, as stressed by Vincent Vosse:
“The 2024 season will be a milestone in the history of Team WRT. As we embark on this exciting journey, many thoughts are coming to my mind. Contesting the WEC and Le Mans for overall honours has always been our objective, as a team and mine personally. Now the dream comes true. To be participating with a Hypercar, in what is probably the most competitive era of endurance racing, to defend the colours of a mythical brand as BMW, is already an achievement in itself, but of course, we want to be successful in this new challenge. The entire team has prepared for months for that, and we all will give everything to succeed. It won’t be easy, we know, but we have an extraordinary team, incredible driver line-ups, a great car, and the support of BMW M Motorsport, where we have found many old friends and made new ones.
In GT, we had a positive start to our cooperation with BMW last year. We took up the challenges, we won races, long-distance and sprint ones, and we collected some memorable moments like those lived in Misano. But we want more! We want to improve, to win more races, to be champions again. I think we have what it takes, including stellar line-ups, and we’ll go for it. Now is the time, to show we know what to do, with the determination and the passion we have always had.”
As previously announced, Team WRT will run two programmes this year, the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS.
FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP
As already known, Team WRT will be running a twofold programme in the FIA WEC, being present both in the Hypercar and LMGT3 classes.
In Hypercar, two BMW M Hybrid V8 will be entered under the colours of BMW M Team WRT.
As previously announced, car #15 will be entrusted to Raffaele Marciello, Dries Vanthoor and Marco Wittmann, while in car #20 Robin Frijns will be paired with René Rast and Sheldon van der Linde.
Marciello and Wittmann, acclaimed racing stars who have left a personal mark in the Fanatec GT and the DTM, will debut with the Belgian squad.
In parallel, Team WRT will enter in LMGT3 two BMW M4 GT3s.
In car #31, Augusto Farfus will be teamed up with Sean Gelael, who joins from the LMP2 programme, and new recruit Darren Leung from Great Britain, who made a Fanatec GT appearance with the team at Nürburgring last year.
In car #46, Valentino Rossi will contest his maiden season in the FIA WEC alongside Maxime Martin and Ahmad Al Harthy from Oman, who is new to Team WRT but not to the FIA WEC.
FANATEC GT WORLD CHALLENGE EUROPE
Team WRT has been present in the SRO-promoted top continental series, today known as Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, since 2011, collecting an impressive record of race wins and titles (overall and class). The Belgian squad will aim for more success in 2024 with its BMW M4 GT3s.
In the Endurance Cup, three cars will be entered. In the Pro class, Sheldon Van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts will continue to drive car #32, while in car #46 Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi will be joined by Raffaele Marciello. Car #30, a Bronze class entry, will have an entirely new crew, with Ahmad Al Harthy joining Sam De Haan, the reigning GT Open Champion, and Jens Klingmann, who already shared the win at last year’s Dubai 24 Hours with Team WRT.
Three cars will also be entered in the Sprint Cup. In Pro, Sprint Cup triple champions Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts will again be at the wheel of car #32, while car #30 will race in the Silver class with Sam De Haan and reigning co-champion Calan Williams. Finally, car #31 shall also be entered on a full-season basis, with the line-up to be announced shortly.
A fourth car for Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin, sporting #46, will make guest appearances in the Brands Hatch and Misano rounds.
2024 LINE-UPS RECAP
FIA WEC Hypercar (BMW M Team WRT)
#15 Raffaele Marciello (CH) – Dries Vanthoor (BE) – Marco Wittmann (DE)
#20 Robin Frijns (NL) – René Rast (DE) – Sheldon van der Linde (ZA)
FIA WEC LMGT3 (Team WRT)
#31 Augusto Farfus (BR) – Sean Gelael (ID) – Darren Leung (GB)
#46 Ahmad Al Harthy (OM) – Maxime Martin (BE) – Valentino Rossi (IT)
FANATEC GT WORLD CHALLENGE EUROPE Endurance Cup (Team WRT)
#30 Ahmad Al Harthy (OM) – Sam De Haan (GB) – Jens Klingmann (DE) Bronze
#32 Sheldon Van der Linde (ZA) – Dries Vanthoor (BE) – Charles Weerts (BE) Pro
#46 Raffaele Marciello (CH) – Maxime Martin (BE) – Valentino Rossi (IT) Pro
FANATEC GT WORLD CHALLENGE EUROPE Sprint Cup (Team WRT)
#30 Sam De Haan (GB) – Calan Williams (AU) Silver
#31 TBC - TBC
#32 Dries Vanthoor (BE) – Charles Weerts (BE) Pro
#46 Maxime Martin (BE) – Valentino Rossi (IT) Pro (Brands Hatch and Misano rounds)
Ahmad Al-Harthy: “I am extremely delighted to be part of an amazing team such as WRT, at such an exciting time for the WEC. I look forward to working closely with my teammates and achieving great results with them. I have worked with Maxime in the past and he’ll definitely help me improve my driving. And sharing the seat with a legend such as Vale, who would have said that a kid from Oman watching MotoGP on TV would end up racing with such an iconic sportsman? I’m pleased to be working with the entire WRT family.”
Sam De Haan: “After many years of discussions with Team WRT, it’s great to confirm this year’s GT World Challenge programme with them. It is no secret that they are a hugely successful team and well-established within the championship. I have some strong teammates alongside me this season, so we will be looking not only for podium finishes but victories too. I can’t wait to get started.”
Augusto Farfus: “I feel honoured to be part of the WEC project of BMW and WRT, I always wanted to have a full campaign in the WEC and now is the right time to join the new platform. We have a strong package, we are eager to share the experience and we are ready for the WEC and Le Mans.”
Robin Frijns: “I have worked very successfully with Team WRT for many years, and I have gained experience in the LMP2 class of the FIA WEC, always intending to compete in the Hypercar class. I now have that opportunity with BMW M Team WRT and I am absolutely thrilled. Everyone is working very hard to ensure we have a good basis at the start of the season on which we can build. I am particularly looking forward to the mega event at Le Mans. I am driving alongside two champions whom I know well from the DTM. What could possibly go wrong?”
Sean Gelael: “It’s my third year with Team WRT and it is an honour to be part of this great family and also the BMW M family. I am super-excited, I have been LMP2 vice-champion twice in the WEC, I hope I can get over the hump and there is one clear goal this year: to get the championship and Le Mans. There are no better team and teammates to go for it.”
Darren Leung: “I am very honoured and extremely humbled to be chosen to represent BMW and WRT in the 2024 FIA WEC. I am looking forward to working with two very talented and experienced teammates, Augusto and Sean. I’m excited to have them with me for my first season in the FIA WEC. I have been flat-out preparing and will be until the final round, not letting a single day go to waste. Let’s have it!”
Jens Klingmann: “I am very excited to join Team WRT for a full campaign after the two races of last year and winning at Dubai. For me, it was a goal, and I am happy that it worked out. I think we have a strong package, the team has now experience with the BMW M4 and I look forward to meeting my teammates. The key target is to win the class and fight for race wins.”
Raffaele Marciello: “I am really happy about this double programme in 2024. I have a lot of good memories in the Fanatec GT World Challenge, where I was twice an overall champion. Together with Maxime and Vale, and Team WRT, we have a very strong ticket and I hope we’ll have an amazing year. In WEC, I am really looking forward to taking this major new challenge together with BMW M Team WRT. Fighting with so many big manufacturers is exactly the challenge I was hoping for. Having been opponents on the racetrack for years, it is fantastic to now drive alongside Dries Vanthoor, as it is to have at our side a BMW legend like Marco Wittmann.”
Maxime Martin: “I am looking forward to being back in the WEC, with the new LMGT3 category which looks very interesting. We’ll have a very strong line-up and I think we can be up for some very good results. I’m happy to be back with Vale in the GT World Challenge, and to be joined by Marciello for the Endurance Cup races, it’s a very strong line-up.”
René Rast: “I am very happy to be part of a new golden era of endurance racing and to come back to the WEC. It has always been a goal of mine to fight for overall honours in the WEC and at Le Mans, and now we have a chance, even though the competition will be very tough. It will take time and effort, but we have all the ingredients needed and a great brand as BMW behind us.”
Valentino Rossi: “I am very happy with my 2024 program, and I can’t wait to start. In the Fanatec GT World Challenge, I’ll race the Endurance Cup together with Maxime and Lello, two fantastic drivers and I think we can be very strong. Additionally, I will be doing with Maxime two races of the Sprint Cup, Misano and Brands Hatch, two tracks where we did very well last year. The WEC will be new for me, I’ll be with Maxime and Ahmad, and I’m eager to race in the main event at Le Mans, and at places like Austin and São Paulo. A brand-new experience for me and hopefully we will be competitive.”
Sheldon van der Linde: “Following the recent announcement of my debut at Le Mans this year, I’m delighted to join Team WRT in their GT programme again to do a few more big races like Spa, which is a personal favourite of mine. Myself, Dries and Charles have a really good relationship on and off track, so keeping our line-up unchanged is great news and the continuity we need to deliver a strong year together!”
Dries Vanthoor: “I am overjoyed to be part of the BMW M Team WRT programme in the WEC. To compete in the top class of endurance racing has always been my goal and I thank everyone who has helped me reach this milestone in my career. We are working tirelessly to achieve good results and hopefully bring beautiful trophies to Munich. It is going to be a very busy season for me, but I am fully motivated. I am happy to be back with Charles in the GT World Challenge for a fifth season together, where we aim to bounce back and put things straight again.”
Charles Weerts: “New season, new chances, same targets! We will try to do our best, as we always do, and take all the lessons from 2023. We know the car better, with Dries and Sheldon we’ll try to perform as we should, and the team has worked very hard. The goal is to win races and titles, I am fully motivated and can’t wait to be driving again.”
Calan Williams: “I’m really looking forward to the 2024 season. I’ve been working harder than ever during the off-season to maximise my time away from the car. I can’t wait to build upon last season and hit the track.”
Marco Wittmann: “It is both a pleasure and an honour for me to be part of the WEC squad. Having already driven the BMW M Hybrid V8 in the IMSA series, I am extremely excited about the Hypercar class in the FIA WEC. There is a lot of genuine hype around this class, with so many manufacturers and top-class drivers. The challenge is huge, but I believe we are very well positioned. The 24 Hours of Le Mans has always been on my bucket list and to drive in the top class in 2024, and hopefully challenge for victory is a dream come true.”
10 months ago
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