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WRT Joins Forces with BMW for 2024 Hypercar Program

Long-time Audi squad WRT signs deal to run BMW’s LMDh car in WEC from 2024…

Photo: BMW M Motorsport

Team WRT has been confirmed as the operator of BMW’s factory LMDh program in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Hypercar class starting in 2024.

The decorated GT3 and LMP2 outfit, which has been closely associated with Audi for more than a decade, has signed a deal with the Munich manufacturer to field the BMW M Hybrid V8 in a quest for overall wins in the global series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It has not been determined whether WRT will move its GT racing program over to the BMW M4 GT3 as an offshoot of the LMDh deal.

WRT on Tuesday announced the end of its decorated partnership with Audi in GT3 that lasted 13 years and yielded several championship titles and major race wins.

As reported by Sportscar365 in June, BMW and WRT entered talks about the possibility to collaborate on future racing programs, with LMDh forming a key part of the roadmap.

WRT went in search of new opportunities with other brands after the Audi LMDh project, which the team had been working on, was placed on an indefinite pause in March.

At the time when WRT reaffirmed its ambition to compete in Hypercar with another company, BMW was only confirmed to race in IMSA with its Dallara-based prototype.

However, Munich never refuted interest in joining the WEC Hypercar ranks, and finally announced its commitment last week when it also shared images from the car’s first shakedown at Varano.

WRT will race the BMW LMDh in the project’s second year. The car will debut exclusively in next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTP class with a two-car factory effort from Team RLL.

“It is fantastic to see how our LMDh project has been gaining momentum in recent weeks,” said BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel, who signed the agreement alongside WRT’s Vincent Vosse and Pascal Weerts, and BMW M Motorsport director Andreas Roos.

“First the successful rollout of the BMW M Hybrid V8, followed by the decision of the Board to approve the return to the WEC – and now the agreement with one of the best and most successful teams in endurance racing.

“We are proud and delighted that a top-quality team like Team WRT has agreed to take on our BMW M Hybrid V8 and compete with it at Le Mans, and at all the other WEC races.

“The next few years will see us in a great position in both top race programs, with BMW M Team RLL in the IMSA series and Team WRT in the WEC.”

WRT entered the LMP2 ranks after the end of its DTM program in 2020 to prepare for a potential future at the top level of sports car racing.

It achieved success in its first season, sealing last year’s WEC and European Le Mans Series titles with different crews and also winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in class.

The team has concentrated on a two-car Oreca 07 Gibson effort in the WEC this season, forgoing the ELMS, but added a third car for its Le Mans effort in June.

“All of us at Team WRT are extremely happy with the start of this new partnership with BMW M Motorsport and feel honored to be associated with a brand that has such an awesome pedigree in motor racing,” said Vosse.

“Team WRT was launched thirteen years ago and has enjoyed continuous success in different categories, mainly GT3 and endurance racing.

“Since the very beginning, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been in our plans and in our dreams, and being part of the new Hypercar era of the FIA WEC that is about to open, was our strongest desire.

“To prepare for that, we have launched a program in LMP2 two years ago, where we have proved to be competitive and successful, taking ELMS and FIA WEC titles, and also a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in our maiden participation.

“Entering the LMDh arena with a strong partner such as BMW M Motorsport was the logical next step and we are not only thrilled about the challenge ahead but also thankful for BMW M Motorsport’s trust in us.

“I can still remember when BMW M Motorsport won at Le Mans in 1999, as I was one of the drivers of the team in the neighboring box.

“We will work hard to repeat these moments and live them together.”

M4 GT3 Program “Not Yet Considered”

BMW M Motorsport chief Roos, who worked with Audi before joining its German rival as Mike Krack’s replacement earlier this year, stressed that a decision has not yet been taken regarding WRT’s potential running of M4 GT3s in a customer racing capacity.

The BMW M4 GT3 made its global debut this year. Current high-profile programs include Walkenhorst Motorsport and Schubert Motorsport in the DTM, and ROWE Racing in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup.

In June, Roos said that it was “a bit too far away” to consider whether an LMDh partner would also be required to align with BMW in GT racing.

A decision has still not been taken regarding whether BMW will continue to be represented in IMSA’s GTD Pro class alongside its new GTP effort next year.

“The successes and extensive experience make Team WRT the ideal partner for our return to Le Mans,” said Roos.

“From the word go, discussions with Vincent Vosse and his partners were very positive.

“It was immediately clear that we share a passion for the WEC project and the BMW M Hybrid V8, and it did not take long to come to an agreement on collaboration.

“There will now be a period of intensive preparations next year, before the first competitive appearances in 2024.

“We have not yet considered any potential appearances for Team WRT in GT racing.

“Over the coming months, we will make a decision about our race program for the BMW M4 GT3 in the 2023 season in close collaboration with all our BMW M Motorsport teams.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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