More news has come out of Europe regarding BMW’s entry into the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the M Hybrid V8 LMDh prototype. Team WRT, based in Belgium, will run the car in the Hypercar class in the 2024 WEC championship, which also includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
Team WRT was founded in 2009 and has a history of racing with Audi. They’ve won major endurance races including the LMP2 prototype class at Le Mans, overall wins in the 24-hour races at Spa, the Nürburgring, and Dubai, and championships in the European Le Mans Series. While not specifically stated in the press release, Head of BMW Motorsport Andreas Roos was likely a big influence in the decision. Before coming to BMW, Roos worked in the motorsport department at Audi for ten years.
The team will work closely with BMW M Motorsport next year to prepare for the 2024 season. “The successes and extensive experience make Team WRT the ideal partner for our return to Le Mans,” said Andreas Roos. “From the word go, discussions with Vincent Vosse and his partners were very positive. It was immediately clear that we share a passion for the WEC project and the BMW M Hybrid V8, and it did not take long to come to an agreement on collaboration. There will now be a period of intensive preparations next year, before the first competitive appearances in 2024. We have not yet considered any potential appearances for Team WRT in GT racing. Over the coming months, we will make a decision about our race program for the BMW M4 GT3 in the 2023 season in close collaboration with all our BMW M Motorsport teams.”
Team WRT Team Principal Vincent Vosse said that Le Mans has been in the plan for some time. “Team WRT was launched thirteen years ago and has enjoyed continuous success in different categories, mainly GT3 and endurance racing,” he said. “Since the very beginning, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been in our plans and in our dreams and being part of the new Hypercar era of the FIA WEC that is about to open, was our strongest desire. To prepare for that, we have launched a program in LMP2 two years ago, where we have proved to be competitive and successful, taking ELMS and FIA WEC titles, and also a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in our maiden participation. Entering the LMDh arena with a strong partner such as BMW M Motorsport was the logical next step, and we are not only thrilled about the challenge ahead but also thankful for BMW M Motorsport’s trust in us. I can still remember when BMW M Motorsport won at Le Mans in 1999, as I was one of the drivers of the team in the neighboring box. We will work hard to repeat these moments and live them together.”
Another major factor that influenced Team WRTs decision is that Audi canceled initial plans to develop a car for the WEC Hypercar championship, which Team WRT was supposed to be a part of.
In other BMW M V8 Hybrid news, it was reported in a Sportscar365.com story that BMW M Motorsport will be testing at the Catalunya and Aragon circuits in Europe before heading to the US to continue testing here. The first M V8 Hybrid will be delivered to BMW Team RLL in September. Initial testing in the US will include a 24-hour endurance test at Sebring, as well as an IMSA-sanctioned test at Road Atlanta in October. —David Haueter
[Photos courtesy BMW]