Team WRT took an important podium finish in the LMGT3 class at the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans, as the BMW M4 GT3 driven by Augusto Farfus, Sean Gelael and Darren Leung crossed the line in second, a result that allows them and the team to significantly close the gap at the top of FIA World Endurance Championship standings. The positive results mitigate in part the frustration lived in the WRT camp, following the misfortunes hitting the other three cars of the Belgian squad. More satisfaction for the team came from winning the ‘Pit Stop Challenge’ and being awarded in the framework of the ACO Sustainability Awards, for positive innovations in recognition of the team’s support to the Fondation Arthritis.

In the Hypercar class, car #15 started from P6, after Dries Vanthoor had topped the qualifying session but had seen his efforts marred in the Hyperpole exercise by an off-track excursion. Marco Wittmann took the start and was running fifth before an unfortunate spin put the car to the back of the Hypercar group.

Car #20, sporting Julie Mehretu Art Car livery, suffered a more serious incident in the third hour, on a damp track, when Robin Frijns hit the barriers at the Ford Chicane. The Dutchman managed to bring the car back to the pits where repairs to the driveshaft and brakes were made. Unfortunately, a much longer precautionary stop was necessary to check the entire rear and floor sections, following which the car remained in the box. It took the track again at the end of the race, to cross the finishing line.

The other BMW M Hybrid V8 spent the initial six hours climbing back through the field at a very good pace and could have been in contention for top honours. Unfortunately, during the seventh hour, Dries Vanthoor was hit by the Ferrari #83 of Robert Kubica (who was later penalised for the incident) at very high speed ahead of the Mulsanne braking point, and crashed into the barriers. Luckily, Dries got out of the car without assistance and was diagnosed with a slight concussion and muscle stiffness.

It was a two-fold race for the BMW M4 GT3s entered in the LMGT3 class. Car #46 had a sensational opening to the race, with Maxime Martin, taking the start, alongside Ahmad Al Harthy and Valentino Rossi, who also did a fantastic job, taking the lead in the fourth hour and always remaining in contention for the win, regardless of order changes in the top-five due to alternate strategies. Unfortunately, soon after darkness broke, in the seventh hour, Ahmad Al Harthy lost the car in the Dunlop Bridge section, hitting the barriers with sufficient front damage to force the #46 out of the race.

The Team WRT car that had the smoothest race was #31. Augusto Farfus, who took the start, Darren Leung and Sean Gelael were sitting in 15th position during the opening hours, but went on to consistently climb positions thanks to perfect strategy and a faultless race. In the morning, the car emerged in the top three, exchanging positions often with its two direct rivals. Eventually, it settled in second position up to the chequered flag, after the rain reappeared in the last half-hour. Car #31 is now only two points from the lead in the LMGT3 class standings, as the FIA WEC heads to Brazil for the fifth round, the 6 Hours of São Paulo, on 12-14 July.


Vincent Vosse, Team Principal BMW M Team WRT: “I’m not so disappointed about the Hypercar performance but about the Hypercar results and somehow it was not our weekend. In LMGT3, after losing the #46 car, all our hopes were on the #31 and they did an incredible job, the drivers, the mechanics, the engineers, everyone! They fought very hard and we finished second with only a 35s margin after 24 hours of racing, it’s a great achievement”.

Marco Wittmann, driver #15: “For me it was a dream come true to take part for the first time in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and also an honour to take the start, always a highlight with the show and the big crowd. We are obviously very disappointed with the outcome and seeing our race end with such a big accident. Luckily, Dries walked away with almost no injuries, this is the most important. Seeing what happened also to our sister car, we can say that luck wasn’t meant to be on our side, and it hurts, but now we have to focus on the rest of the championship, learn from the negative and turn it into positive, and come back stronger. We made tremendous progress since Qatar, as shown by our pace here, we can be proud of that, and we should build upon it.”

René Rast, driver #20: “Being in Le Mans is always the highlight of the year. For me, it was a very special honor to start as a driver of the #20 BMW M Hybrid V8 Art Car. The parade on Friday was as fantastically crazy as every year. From a sporting perspective, the race result was, of course, anything but satisfactory, as we had expected much more. We simply didn't implement it well and made too many mistakes. We need to improve on that.”

Augusto Farfus, driver #31: “I think that on Saturday morning, before the race start, nobody would have expected to be here, on the podium and in a great position to fight for the world title. Well done to BMW, Team WRT and all the guys. It’s all about teamwork and team effort, we kept it on the road during very difficult times in the night, but we were rewarded for the incredible strategy, pit stops and set-up. Now, let’s celebrate.”

Valentino Rossi, driver #46: “In the first part of the race, we were very competitive, we were able to recover a lot of positions, thanks to a good strategy and a consistent pace. We led the race for 2-3 hours and I enjoyed very much being in P1! Unfortunately, the conditions worsened and Ahmad, on slicks on a wet track, made a mistake, and we had to retire. It’s a big shame.”

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