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FIA WEC in Qatar: Challenging season opener for BMW M Motorsport and BMW M Team WRT.

BMW M Motorsport commenced the 2024 season in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the Qatar 1812 km at the Lusail International Circuit near Doha (UAE). In the Hypercar class, BMW M Team WRT enters two BMW M Hybrid V8s. However, the debut race of the prototype in the FIA WEC presented challenges.

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Doha. BMW M Motorsport commenced the 2024 season in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the Qatar 1812 km at the Lusail International Circuit near Doha (UAE). In the Hypercar class, BMW M Team WRT enters two BMW M Hybrid V8s. However, the debut race of the prototype in the FIA WEC presented challenges, and both cars finished outside the top ten after nearly ten hours of racing. In contrast, the #46 BMW M4 GT3 narrowly missed the podium in the new LMGT3 class by only a few seconds.

 

The #20 BMW M Hybrid V8 concluded the season opener in 12th place. BMW M works drivers Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), René Rast (GER), and Robin Frijns (NED) took turns behind the wheel. Their teammates Dries Vanthoor (BEL), Raffaele Marciello (SUI), and Marco Wittmann (GER) finished in 16th position in the #15 BMW M Hybrid V8 after the car required a brief repair in the pitbox about an hour before the end.

 

The Team WRT #46 BMW M4 GT3, driven by BMW M works drivers Valentino Rossi (ITA) and Maxime Martin (BEL), along with Ahmad Al Harthy (OMA), fought for the podium in the new LMGT3 class until the end. Ultimately, the trio finished in fourth place, just a few seconds behind the top three. The #31 BMW M4 GT3 reached the finish line in sixth position in class. In that car, BMW M works driver Augusto Farfus (BRA) shared the cockpit with Sean Gelael (INA) and Darren Leung (GBR).

 

The second of a total of eight races in the FIA WEC 2024, the 6 Hours of Imola (ITA), will take place on 21st April.

 

Reactions to the Qatar season opener:

 

Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “We have returned to the FIA WEC with BMW M Motorsport, and it was our first race together with BMW M Team WRT in this world championship. It certainly was not the season opener we all had wished for. I think that in the Hypercar class it quickly became apparent that we couldn’t show the necessary pace in the race. This needs to be carefully analysed now and the necessary steps must be taken to extract the maximum. In the LMGT3 class, we could still hope until the end to reach the podium with car #46. It didn’t quite happen, but we’ll try again in the next race. A solid result here satisfies us because we scored points with both cars. This is crucial in such a championship, especially in a race like in Qatar, where there are more points at stake. Very positively, in our first race together with BMW M Team WRT in FIA WEC, all procedures worked very well. We must now build on this because we aim to win races and championships.”

 

Vincent Vosse (BMW M Team WRT Team Principal): “It was a tough weekend. In the Hypercar class, finishing P12 and P16 is not really what we were looking for but we got a lot of data and now we have plenty of work to do. It seems like Porsche has done a brilliant job during the winter and they achieved an incredible outcome this weekend. In LMGT3 we had a solid race, with both cars and both line-ups. We had a strong race, without any mistakes, but we did not have the tools to fight for a better position. The guys in the pitlane did a really good job for their first race in FIA WEC. Finishing P4 and P6 is a good result but it’s not what we are looking for so we still have some work to do to improve.”

 

Sheldon van der Linde (#20 BMW M Hybrid V8, 12th place Hypercar): “The first race of the WEC season is done. It was quite disappointing for the whole team to just miss the points in P12 with a completely clean race from outside and no real mistakes on execution. On the other hand, we have a lot more races to improve this year, with seven more events so I hope we can make some big steps on the car. We are learning a lot with BMW M Team WRT on our side and I believe that we have one of the best teams and will make significant steps. A big thanks to everyone for the hard work these last few weeks for this first race in FIA WEC and without these guys we wouldn’t be here so thank you so much.”

 

Raffaele Marciello (#15 BMW M Hybrid V8, 16th place Hypercar): “It was definitely a tough race. We learnt a lot during this weekend and we will keep learning. We will analyse everything, and we will try to do better at Imola because I believe that we have the potential to be better and that’s why we are here.”

 

Valentino Rossi (#46 BMW M4 GT3, 4th place LMGT3): “It’s a good start to the season as finishing P4 is quite good but it’s a shame to be so close to the podium and to not step onto it. It was a perfect race for us with no mistakes, no track limits. The guys did an amazing job in the pits as well and we just missed a little bit of speed to make it to the podium.”

 

Augusto Farfus (#31 BMW M4 GT3, 6th place LMGT3): “I think we did what we could. Unfortunately, we had that issue in the pit stop with the refuelling, which cost us some time. At least we finished, getting P6 pretty much trouble-free. Now we go from there.”

 

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