Dries Vanthoor says that early-season endurance races and test outings planned after the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will present Team WRT the chance to fully unlock the “big potential” of its new alliance with BMW.
Vanthoor recently took a second consecutive overall victory in the Hankook 24H Dubai, getting WRT’s new relationship with the Munich brand off to a prosperous start.
The Belgian driver is looking ahead to a double effort in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS this year, a key part of which will be defending his Sprint Cup crown alongside long time co-driver Charles Weerts.
While WRT is adapting to running BMW machinery after more than a decade of competing with Audi, Vanthoor anticipates that the early season running will be key to the team’s level of preparation.
“The main thing for us is to know the car very well,” Vanthoor told Sportscar365. “Charles is still having is school duties as he’s been doing the last few years.
“A big respect for him, because I wouldn’t be able to combine it, but he can.
“The testing after [Dubai] and Bathurst will be the main importance for us to get our grips along for the Sprint season.
“It’s going to be a completely different approach with a different car and a whole different way of handling it.
“But I’m quite sure if we can do the right testing we can learn enough in a short time. Then who knows, we can get a fourth title.
“It’s going to be even more tough than defending it in the last two years, but it makes it a nice challenge for us as well.”
Vanthoor said WRT still needs the track time to get ready for the season, as its testing mileage since the conclusion of last year has been limited.
“It’s a new challenge for all of us,” he said. “Of course we didn’t do so much testing because it was the end of the year.
“We did the whole season with the Audi and we did a lot of testing at the beginning of last year and we did the whole season.
“So to do a lot of testing at the end of the year is always difficult because you need to the budget to still be there after a big season.
“That’s why we really focused to do it at the beginning of this season.
“But we did a few days and it’s very different for all of us, but I feel like there’s a big potential and it’s on us now to make sure that it comes out.
“It’s not going to be easy and it is also not easy at the moment, but I’m quite sure that we will make sure that we are able to be sure that we’ll be there.”
Vanthoor labeled last weekend’s Dubai enduro as “good preparation” as it gave drivers valuable seat time to get familiar with BMW’s GT3 platform.
“It’s a bit tricky because you do this one-off race in a different championship that you never really do, with different tires,” he said.
“We shouldn’t be getting too much into this because it is of course a very different tire but it is a good preparation for us, for the team to get the hands on the car and [learn] everything about it.
“Also for us as drivers, we have 24 hours to know how the car works from the ABS, traction control and how to drive it to all the systems, because it’s also new but that’s why we [were] here and that [was] our main goal.”