1-2 WEC LMGT3 victory for Team WRT at Imola, 6th for hypercar crew

1-2 WEC LMGT3 victory for Team WRT at Imola, 6th for hypercar crew


A tale of triumph unfolded in the heart of Italy's iconic Imola circuit and its 73,600 spectactors for Belgian Team WRT. As the second round of the FIA WEC World Championship opened, Team WRT’s LMGT3 drivers showcased their mastery of the elements, conquering the treacherous conditions. Leading the charge was car #31, guided by the skilled hands of Augusto Farfus, Sean Gelael, and Darren Leung. Close behind, car #46 thundered across the finish line, propelled by Valentino Rossi alongside his teammates Ahmad Al Harthy and Maxime Martin. Together, as the checkered flag waved and the cheers of the Italian fans reverberated through the air, the six Team WRT drivers stood atop the podium thanks to the team’s risky but strong strategy and to Farfus and Martin’s amazing skills on slick tyres on Imola’s damp track.


The rain-soaked asphalt of Imola also unlocked another chapter in the BMW M Team WRT maiden Hypercar history. For car #20, driven by Robin Frijns, René Rast, and Sheldon van der Linde the race was a testament of the team relentless progress and hard work since the opening FIA WEC race held in Qatar last month. Despite the fierce competition, they battled relentlessly, holding their own amongst the frontrunners and securing a commendable 6th place finish, earning valuable points for the team. For car #15, with Raffaele Marciello, Dries Vanthoor, and Marco Wittmann at the wheel, adversity struck early in the race. Caught in the chaos of the start, they found themselves entangled in an incident triggered by cars further down the grid. It was a bitter blow for the team, but amidst the disappointment, there lingered a sense of resilience and determination. No doubt they prepare to return to their home turf for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the stage is set for redemption.  


Number of cars on the grid: 37 (19 Hypercar’s, 18 LMGT3’s)
Manufacturers: 14
Number of WRT cars: 4 (2 Hypercar’s, 2 LMGT3’s)
205 laps in total for Hypercar winner, 187 for LMGT3 winner

Qualifying HYPERCAR:
Car #15: P13
Car #20: P8
Hyperpole HYPERCAR:
Car #20: P7
Qualifying LMGT3:
Car #31: P7
Car #46: P6
Hyperpole LMGT3:
Car #46: P3
Car #31: P4
Starting drivers:

#15: Marco Wittmann
#20: René Rast
#31: Darren Leung
#46: Ahmad Al Harthy

Race – 1st hour:
Clean start for #20, keeping its position
Great start for #46 and #31 gaining each 1 place
Incident at the start, before first corner, between Hypercars involving #15
#15 hit by behind at the start: damaged front and rear
Box to repair damages (included suspension damage on rear right) for #15
SC: debris on track due to several contacts at the start
2 FCY’s
#15 with Wittmann, back on track after 58 minutes, 32 laps behind overall leader
End of 1st hour: #46 in P2 (class), #31 in P3 (class), #20 in P7, #15 in P37

Race – 2nd hour:
#20 fighting for P5 overall
#31 Driver change to Gelael
#46 Driver change to Rossi
#20 Driver change to Frijns
End of 2nd hour: #46 in P3 (class), #31 in P6 (class), #20 in P11, #15 in P36

Race – 3rd hour:
#15 Driver change to Marciello
End of 3rd hour: #46 in P2  (class), #31 in P4  (class), #20 in P8, #15 in P35

Race – 4th hour:
1 FCY and 1 VSC for debris on track & cars in gravel
#31 Driver change to Farfus
#46 Driver change to Martin
#20 Driver change to van der Linde
Track declared wet
#31 and #46 on slick tyres
Track very slippery
End of 4th hour: #46 in P2 (class), #31 in P3 (class), #20 in P8, #15 in P35

Race – 5th hour
Still raining
#46 and #31 fighting for P2, still on slick tyres
#20 fighting for P3
3 FCY’s for cars in gravel bed
46 and #31 fighting for P1, still on slick tyres, all other LMGT3 cars on wet
#31 gets the lead
#20 still chasing P3
End of 5th hour: #20 P4, #31 in P1 (class), #46 in P2 (class), #15 P35
Race – 6th Hour:
Drive-through for #46 - Speeding under VSC
#15 Driver change to Vanthoor (for last 20’)
End of 6th hour: #31 in P1 (class), #46 in P2 (class), #20 in P6, #15 in P34

1. Conway – Kobayashi – De Vries (Toyota GR010 Hybrid)               205 laps
2. Estre – Lotterer – Vanthoor (Porsche 963)                                      + 7.081s
3. Campbell – Christensen – Makowiecki (Porsche 963)                    + 25.626s
4. Fuoco – Molina – Nielsen (Ferrari 499P)                                         + 31.469s
5. Buemi – Hartley – Hirakawa (Toyota GR010 Hybrid)                       +33.777s
6. Frijns – Rast - van der Linde (BMW M Hybrid V8)                       + 1 lap
18. Marciello – Vanthoor – Wittmann (BMW M Hybrid V8)              + 42 laps

1. Farfus - Gelael – Leung (BMW M4 GT3)                                       187 laps
2. Al Harthy – Martin – Rossi (BMW M4 GT3)                                   + 22.838s
3. Bachler – Malykhin – Sturm (Porsche 911 GT3 R)                           + 1 lap
4. Heriau – Mann – Rovera (Ferrari 296 LMGT3)                                 + 1 lap
5. James – Mancinelli – Riberas (Aston Martin Vantage AMR)            + 2 laps

Vincent VOSSE, Team Principal BMW M Team WRT: "What a great weekend for our LMGT3 crews! Qualifying and the race went very well, and we did the little things right. Augusto and Maxime stayed on slicks on a wet track and were able to show incredible pace. That gave us a good lead and ultimately the one-two victory. In the Hypercars, we were in the window where we belong this time after the big disappointment in Qatar. We are taking one step at a time and have already done some things very well here. On to the next race at Spa-Francorchamps".

Sheldon VAN DER LINDE, #20 BMW M Hybrid V8: "In the end, that was one of the most challenging and craziest stints I've ever driven. I thought several times that I would lose the car. I knew I had to bring it home so we could score very good points. Luckily, that worked out. The team did a great job improving the car so much since Qatar. We can be very proud of that. Thank you to everyone!".

Marco WITTMANN, #15 BMW M Hybrid V8: "That was a wild start phase, where some of our competitors quite misjudged themselves. I was hit from behind and spun around. That was very annoying. The guys did a great job repairing the car and getting us back on track. That allowed us to collect important test kilometers. My stint after the repair was great. The car felt good, and we could have made up some places. The pace and balance were good, we need to build on that. Hopefully, we'll have more racing luck next time”.

Augusto FARFUS, #31 BMW M4 GT3: "I am incredibly happy and proud. We showed today that it's about having the best team in this championship, not just the best car or the best individual driver. In my stint, the track was always differently wet, and it was a constant question of which tires were better. We stayed on slicks the whole time, and I felt very comfortable in the BMW M4 GT3 under these conditions. The team always stayed calm and did everything right in the end. It's my son's birthday today – I couldn't have given him a better gift". 

Sean GELAEL, #31 BMW M4 GT3: "I'm super happy! Darren qualified the car in fourth place on Saturday and drove a strong first stint. I had quite a bit of fun after that and was able to make up some time. Then I handed over to Augusto, who was sensational on the track and put pressure on Maxime. It was anything but bad today".

Darren LEUNG, #31 BMW M4 GT3: "Winning in just my second FIA WEC race – that's just incredible! We did an outstanding job as a team. The turbulent start phase was difficult for me, but I got through it very well and was able to hand over the vehicle in a good position to my colleagues". 

Maxime MARTIN, #46 BMW M4 GT3: "A fantastic result for the team. We had a strong car and decided on a bold strategy. That made the difference in the end. Congratulations to the #31 crew on the victory! We collected a lot of points and will continue to work hard in the next races". 

Valentino ROSSI, #46 BMW M4 GT3: "I am very happy about the one-two victory for Team WRT, for BMW M Motorsport, and my first podium in the FIA WEC. We already had a strong car on Saturday in qualifying, and Ahmad achieved a very good third starting position. In the race, we then decided to stay out on slicks. Augusto was a bit faster than Maxime at the beginning and took the lead. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the result". 

Ahmad AL HARTHY, #46 BMW M4 GT3: "My first podium with Team WRT – that's an incredible feeling! Many thanks to the team, which did a fantastic job. We took a calculated risk, and it paid off in the end". 


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