Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (WRT) : "My doubts were quickly removed"
In January 2022, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer competed in the 24 Hours of Dubai in an Audi R8 LMS GT3 for WRT with a podium finish. At that time, the former Porsche Carrera Cup driver was discovering the GT world without knowing what his future would be. This freelance work did not go unnoticed, with a full programme in the GT World Challenge Europe at WRT and the success that we know (Silver title and class victory at the 24 Hours of Spa).
The 22 year old native of Chambray-lès-Tours is continuing his lease with WRT this year, but the BMW M4 GT3 has replaced the Audi R8 LMS GT3 and third place in the 2022 Dubai 24H gave way to victory last weekend in the company of Dries Vanthoor, Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud, Diego Menchaca and Jens Klingmann. A good start to 2023. Just back from Dubai, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer talked to us about his discovery of the BMW and his race.
You came to Dubai to get some driving experience on the BMW and you leave with the victory. The mission is more than fulfilled...
"The experience was obviously positive. The first objective was to get to know the car better but we won't be deprived of a victory (laughs). On a personal level, I learned a lot about driving the BMW. I was also lucky enough to have some very good team-mates by my side. As I said, the first objective was to cover as many kilometres as possible, even if once the race has started, everyone wants to win. That was clearly the pre-race briefing: to go as far as possible in the race.
Does the BMW behave differently to the Audi?
The Audi has a rear engine, the BMW a front engine. This changes the way you drive. Unlike the Audi, which has a naturally aspirated engine, the BMW has two turbos, which changes the torque. The M4 GT3 is longer and wider but when you put it all together they both perform well. I had some doubts about my adaptation but they were quickly put to rest. When you follow other GT3s, you realise that the lines on the track are different.
The advantage is that you already know the team...
Doing this race was good training for the whole team. The atmosphere at the 24 Hours of Dubai is more relaxed. It's the perfect event to discover a new car. You can see the degradation of the tires, the bad points and the good points in the traffic.
After the great 2022 season, the aim was to continue with WRT?
The aim was to stay with the team. I am very happy to be driving for WRT as I have always enjoyed the GT category. It's very interesting for me to take part in this challenge of discovering a new car with the team. I am forcing myself to be even more precise in my feedback to the team. My 2023 programme will be announced later but we are heading towards something similar to 2022.