Iconic Bathurst 12H hosts race debut for BMW M Team WRT

Intercontinental GT Challenge
2 Feb. 2023 • 7:37
The time has come for BMW M Team WRT to make its official race debut, this weekend at the iconic Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia, which counts as the first round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. The Belgian squad fields two BMW M4 GT3 machines entrusted to Sheldon van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts in #32 and Augusto Farfus, Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi piloting #46.
Photo : Xynamic

The Belgian squad christened the new partnership with BMW with a victory last month at the 24 Hours of Dubai, but the Bathurst 12 Hours will be the official race debut as BMW M Team WRT, officially representing the Munich-based constructor. 


  Nonetheless, it won’t be the team’s first visit to Australia, as WRT already contested once, and won, the great Australian race in 2018, with Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard and Dries Vanthoor. 


  The Bathurst 12 Hours has become one of the most acclaimed endurance races, mainly thanks to the unique character of the track that hosts it, the Mount Panorama Circuit, located in the hills of New South Wales, a couple of hours' drive inland from Sydney. It is a 6.213-km natural, fast, and challenging track, with some long straights and a very twisty section around the mountain from which it borrows its name. 


  26 GT cars, with a strong international representation, are entered in the race this year. For BMW M Team WRT the first objective of the very long journey will be to continue to familiarize with the BMW M4 GT3 and to bring home the best possible result. 


 Team Principal Vincent Vosse stressed: “It is great to go back to Bathurst, one of the top endurance races in the world, which we had the joy to win in our first participation in 2018. I really put Bathurst among the mythical tracks and races in our sports, along with Spa, the Nordschleife, Le Mans and Macau, one of those places where you feel humbled by history and by the track itself. Bathurst is particularly difficult and one where the first objective is simply to stay on track. We will approach this race with great humility, knowing that we still have to learn a lot about the BMW M4 and trying not to put too much pressure on ourselves, although we are competitors and we will always have a good result in sight. We won at Dubai, but this is behind us now, and the focus must be on the new adventure it is about to start.”   


 Dries Vanthoor: “I look very much forward to this event, as it marks a new start for both Team WRT and me. This will be my second time driving there, after winning with Team WRT in our first appearance in 2018. Charles and Sheldon haven’t been there before but we have a great line-up and I think that our BMW M4 GT3 will be strong there too. Hopefully, we can make it work to get a great resuIt.” 


 Charles Weerts: “It’s my first race of the year, my first with BMW and also my first as an official BMW driver. It’s going to be an interesting and exciting one! It is also a new venue for me as I have never been to Bathurst before. I expect a challenging first experience. I feel ready to tackle the challenge and give my best to the team. Hopefully, we can get a good result for this important debut.” 


 Sheldon van der Linde: “I can’t wait to hit the track! The Bathurst 12 Hour has been on my bucket list for a while, and I am very proud to be heading there with BMW M Team WRT. I think it is going to be a highlight of the season. I’ve heard so many crazy stories about Bathurst, it’s one of the best tracks in the world, I can’t wait to see it for myself. We have a strong line-up and I hope with Charles and Dries, fingers crossed, that we can get on to the podium. It’s going to be a big event for Team WRT, their first time with a BMW and I hope I can add my experience to make it a positive weekend.” 


 Augusto Farfus: “I am very excited to go back to Bathurst, it’s probably one of the coolest tracks on the planet! I have been there last time in 2020 and now it’s a new challenge: a new car, a new team and new teammates, so there is a lot to be learned in a short time but I’m confident we can do a good job. The track should suit our car well, and I look forward to the weekend, my first with Team WRT.”


 Maxime Martin: “I’m definitely looking forward to this big race, the first we do as a BMW-supported team. I’m happy to be associated again with Augusto, whom I know for a long time, and to race for the second time with Vale after our podium in Dubai. The team is well prepared and knows the race, so let’s see what we can do.”


 Valentino Rossi: “I am very happy to go back to Australia, a country I love and where I used to go a couple of times a year in MotoGP. I am absolutely thrilled of discovering Bathurst, which is a mythical track which I have always wanted to drive, and one of my favorites on the simulator. This time it is going to be for real and I can’t wait to be there. It will be a tough race, starting very early and with a strong field. I will be driving with Maxime and Augusto, who will be my teammates in the Endurance Cup this year, so it is a very good opportunity to start working together, and we will give our best to be competitive.”     


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