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GT World Challenge Europe: BMW M Team WRT wins the Sunday race at Valencia.

Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts (both BEL) celebrated their first season victory in the Sprint Cup during Sunday's race of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS (GTWC) at Valencia (ESP). After 36 laps on the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, they crossed the finish line first in a race marked by safety car periods.

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Andrea Schwab
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Valencia. Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts (both BEL) celebrated their first season victory in the Sprint Cup during Sunday's race of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS (GTWC) at Valencia (ESP). After 36 laps on the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, they crossed the finish line first in a race marked by safety car periods. The duo had started from 13th place in the fourth round of the Sprint Cup. Skillful driving and an excellent race strategy from the BMW M Team WRT were the decisive factors for their victory. In the Saturday race, Vanthoor and Weerts were already the highest-placed BMW drivers. Starting from 15th place, they narrowly missed the podium, finishing in fifth position. 

 

It was a weekend of ups and downs at Valencia. Like the entire BMW M Team WRT, Valentino Rossi (ITA) and Maxime Martin (BEL) in the #46 BMW M4 GT3 faced issues in Saturday's qualifying. However, in the race, they displayed great determination. After a spirited comeback, they gained 14 positions and secured a spot in the top ten, finishing in eighth place. In Sunday's qualifying, Martin showcased his skills in the rain. The Belgian driver coped well with the challenging conditions on the slippery but drying track and secured third position. Unfortunately, he was forced onto the grass at the start, resulting in an overheating engine of the #46 BMW M4 GT3 due to blocked coolers, which led to an early retirement.

 

Niklas Krütten (GER) and Calan Williams (AUS) had a disappointing weekend with a retirement of the #30 BMW M4 GT3 on Saturday and an 18th-place finish on Sunday. Thomas Neubauer and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (both FRA) finished 16th and 29th, respectively, in their #31 BMW M4 GT3 in both Valencia races.

 

Reactions after the races:

 

Dries Vanthoor (#32 BMW M4 GT3): “It was a positive, albeit challenging weekend for us. Leaving Valencia with a win is certainly the icing on the cake. We struggled in both qualifying sessions. We worked hard because it was difficult for us to find the right set-up. Car #46 was competitive throughout the weekend, but unfortunately, it had an issue in the race on Sunday. Fortunately, we were able to use some of their set-ups, which was one of the keys to our victory. That's the advantage of working together in such a large group. It's not the easiest of seasons, but hard work pays off. We're not where we want to be yet, but we'll gladly take the win.”

 

Charles Weerts (#32 BMW M4 GT3): “Overall, it was a positive weekend. Our qualifying positions weren't ideal, but somehow, we managed to secure a good result with a fifth place in the first race, thanks in part to the excellent work of the pit crew. On Sunday, we made up many places due to Dries' excellent start. It feels good to be back at the top. It's been too long since we won in the Sprint Cup. Being at the top is fantastic. A big thanks to the team, BMW M Motorsport, and Dries.”

 

Maxime Martin (#46 BMW M4 GT3): “Overall, the weekend was quite okay. We certainly showed good performance, which is important. It's disappointing, though, to start from third place and not finish the race, especially when you realise that your car is good. We could have certainly reached the podium on Sunday. Incidents like the one at the start can happen, but it's essential to take a closer look at what happened to prevent it from recurring. People keep changing their lines, creating a lot of confusion.”

 

Valentino Rossi (#46 BMW M4 GT3): “On Saturday, we had a very successful comeback from the back of the starting grid. On Sunday, both Maxime and I had a good pace. It's even more frustrating that we had these issues after the start and retired because we could have achieved a very good result.”

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