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FIA WEC: BMW M4 GT3 triumphs at Imola - Strong race for the #20 BMW M Hybrid V8.

Great results for BMW M Motorsport and Team WRT at the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC). The 6 Hours of Imola (ITA) ended with a one-two result for the BMW M4 GT3 in the LMGT3 class. Augusto Farfus (BRA), Sean Gelael (INA), and Darren Leung (GBR) triumphed ahead of their team-mates Maxime Martin (BEL), Valentino Rossi (ITA), and Ahmad Al Harthy (OMA).

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Imola. Great results for BMW M Motorsport and Team WRT at the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC). The 6 Hours of Imola (ITA) ended with a one-two result for the BMW M4 GT3 in the LMGT3 class. Augusto Farfus (BRA), Sean Gelael (INA), and Darren Leung (GBR) triumphed ahead of their team-mates Maxime Martin (BEL), Valentino Rossi (ITA), and Ahmad Al Harthy (OMA). It was the first victory for a BMW M Motorsport car in the history of the FIA WEC. BMW M Team WRT also celebrated success in the Hypercar category. After a challenging start in Qatar, Robin Frijns (NED), René Rast (GER), and Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) gave a very strong performance, battled for the podium for a long time, and ultimately finished in sixth place.

 

The weather conditions, with rain setting in around the halfway point of the race, turned the event into a strategy gamble. However, all BMW M Motorsport teams made the right tyre choices and were rewarded with outstanding results. The BMW M Hybrid V8 made enormous improvements compared to the season opener and was competitive under all conditions. On the wet track, final driver van der Linde even had the podium within reach, but problems during the last pit stop and a subsequent drive-through penalty pushed the #20 BMW M Hybrid V8 back to a still-strong sixth place. The #15 BMW M Hybrid V8 with Raffaele Marciello (SUI), Dries Vanthoor (BEL), and Marco Wittmann (GER) in the cockpit was unlucky and got innocently involved in a collision at the start. After about an hour of repairs, the team managed to get the car back on track for important test kilometres.

 

The celebration was even greater in the LMGT3 category. Both BMW M4 GT3 crews continued on slick tyres as the rain began to fall, making the right decision. No competitor could match their speed, and they drove to a commanding one-two finish. Never before had a BMW M Motorsport car won a race in this series since the founding of the FIA WEC in 2012.

 

Comments after the race at Imola:

Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “That was an extremely positive FIA WEC event at Imola. In Hypercar, we made great progress after the challenging start in Qatar. We had the pace to achieve a top result on our own. I am pleased that car #20 was able to hold its own in the leading group throughout the race, even under difficult conditions. The early unprovoked accident of car #15 was very unfortunate and annoying. Many thanks to BMW M Team WRT, which rebuilt the car and sent it back on track. That allowed us to finish the race and collect important data to continue improving. On the LMGT3 side of the garage, it couldn't have gone better. Congratulations to all drivers and crew members for very strong performances. Thank you to everyone at BMW M Motorsport and the team for a very successful weekend!”

 

Vincent Vosse (Team Principal BMW M Team WRT): “What a great weekend for our LMGT3 crews! Qualifying and the race went very well, and we did the little things right. Augusto and Maxime stayed on slicks on a wet track and were able to show incredible pace. That gave us a good lead and ultimately the one-two result. In Hypercar we were in the window where we belong this time after the big disappointment in Qatar. We are taking one step at a time and have already done some things very well here. On to the next race at Spa-Francorchamps.”

 

Sheldon van der Linde (BMW M Team WRT, #20 BMW M Hybrid V8, 6th place): “In the end, that was one of the most challenging and craziest stints I've ever driven. I thought several times that I would lose the car. I knew I had to bring it home so we could score very good points. Luckily, that worked out. The team did a great job improving the car so much since Qatar. We can be very proud of that. Thank you to everyone!”

 

Marco Wittmann (BMW M Team WRT, #15 BMW M Hybrid V8, 18th place): “That was a wild start phase, where some of our competitors quite misjudged themselves. I was hit from behind and spun around. That was very annoying. The guys did a great job repairing the car and getting us back on track. That allowed us to collect important test kilometres. My stint after the repair was great. The car felt good, and we could have made up some places. The pace and balance were good; we need to build on that. Hopefully, we'll have more racing luck next time.”

 

Augusto Farfus (Team WRT, #31 BMW M4 GT3, 1st place): “I am incredibly happy and proud. We showed today that it's about having the best team in this championship, not just the best car or the best individual driver. In my stint, the track was always differently wet, and it was a constant question of which tyres were better. We stayed on slicks the whole time, and I felt very comfortable in the BMW M4 GT3 under those conditions. The team always stayed calm and did everything right in the end. It's my son's birthday today – I couldn't have given him a better gift.”

 

Sean Gelael (Team WRT, #31 BMW M4 GT3, 1st place): “I'm super happy! Darren qualified the car in fourth place on Saturday and drove a strong first stint. I had quite a bit of fun after that and was able to make up some time. Then I handed over to Augusto, who was sensational on the track and put pressure on Maxime. It was not so bad today.”

 

Darren Leung (Team WRT, #31 BMW M4 GT3, 1st place): “Winning in just my second FIA WEC race – that's just incredible! We did an outstanding job as a team. The turbulent start phase was difficult for me, but I got through it very well and was able to hand over the car in a good position to my colleagues.”

 

Maxime Martin (Team WRT, #46 BMW M4 GT3, 2nd place): “A fantastic result for the team. We had a strong car and decided on a bold strategy. That made the difference in the end. Congratulations to the #31 crew on the victory! We collected a lot of points and will continue to work hard in the next races.”

 

Valentino Rossi (Team WRT, #46 BMW M4 GT3, 2nd place): “I am very happy about the one-two for Team WRT, for BMW M Motorsport, and my first podium in FIA WEC. We already had a strong car on Saturday in qualifying, and Ahmad achieved a very good third starting position. In the race, we then decided to stay out on slicks. Augusto was a bit faster than Maxime at the beginning and took the lead. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the result.”

 

Ahmad Al Harthy (Team WRT, #46 BMW M4 GT3, 2nd place): “My first podium with Team WRT – that's an incredible feeling! Many thanks to the team, which did a fantastic job. We took a calculated risk, and it paid off in the end.”

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