Team WRT plans to contest the full Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season according to team principal Vincent Vosse, who has confirmed a two-car entry for this month’s Kyalami 9 Hour.
The Belgian squad, which makes its official debut as a BMW factory-backed team in this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, is fielding a pair of BMW M4 GT3s for Augusto Farfus, Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi, as well as the trio of Sheldon van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts.
When asked by Sportscar365 on its plans for the five-round globe-trotting GT3 series, which will include additional rounds at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa, Indianapolis 8 Hour and Gulf 12 Hours, Vosse said: “the intention is there.”
Its IGTC commitment comes in addition to the multiple BMW entries planned for Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, which was confirmed in December.
While utilizing one of its test cars and an ex-Team RLL BMW for Bathurst, Vosse confirmed that its cars run in last month’s Hankook 24H Dubai are being sea-freighted to South Africa for the second round of the IGTC season on Feb. 25.
He said its driver lineup for Kyalami has yet to be announced and declined to confirm if Rossi will be part of it.
“It would be quite similar [to Bathurst] with some changes,” Vosse said. “We did not go through driver lineups for Kyalami yet. We know what is the plan but nothing has been decided fully yet.”
Head of BMW M Motorsport Andreas Roos indicated it’s BMW’s plan to have at least two cars for the entire season.
“It’s not fully ticked off yet, but it’s the plan we have at the moment,” he told Sportscar365.
“In Spa we will definitely have some cars there but we haven’t confirmed our full [GTWC Europe] program yet. But I think this will happen soon that we’ll announce it.”
BMW is one of three GT3 manufacturers confirmed for IGTC this year, which Roos believes brings value to the brand.
“With COVID hitting the championship, we still believe and think that it’s a very important and nice championship and this is why we committed and said we will for sure start into the season and hopefully it can grow and develop from there,” he said.
Mollekens: 24H Dubai Was “Test Case” for Rest of Season
WRT’s run in Dubai, where it claimed victory in its first race with the M4 GT3, provided valuable data to the team ahead of its first factory outing this weekend according to the team’s team’s sporting director Kurt Mollekens.
“Dubai was interesting, just to learn about the reliability of the car and the evolution over 24 hours,” he told Sportscar365. “This one, it’s just all the time you lose in Europe to prepare, and travel, it does compromise things quite a bit.
“Dubai was definitely a test case for us. We were there to learn about the car, and we did learn a lot, which was very positive. Here, the nature is more competitive, because you show up with factory drivers and there is no hiding.
“The pressure is on. You can tell by the profile of the people in BMW shirts in the paddock. It’s clearly a totally different event.
“It never hurts doing a 12-hour race, but I don’t think we’ll learn much more than we did in Dubai, except for the fact of the tires. This is the Pirelli we will be using over the season.
“In terms of camber, tire pressures etc., Dubai doesn’t bring us much. But over 24 hours it brought a lot of lessons about the car, which was positive.”
Mollekens added: “All in all, it’s more of a learning curve for us than it is for BMW.
“Of course we tell them some things and send them in certain directions, but on the other hand we must improve.
“I think the setup on the Audi that we knew well took like an hour and a half. Now we spend three hours or more on setup. That is because we are not used to the car enough. All these things you find out as you go along.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report