It has been a challenging season for the BMW teams competing in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup season, as the balance of performance hasn’t been favorable to the M4 GT3 at several of the tracks on the schedule. Despite the challenges, Team WRT put a BMW on the podium in the top Pro Cup class and won the Gold Cup class in the first race at Hockenheim, and had a top-five finish in race two.
The BMWs were off the pace of the leaders in qualifying for both races at Hockenheim. In qualifying for race one, the fastest BMW was the #32 entry of Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor, but they were only good enough for tenth place and were eight-tenths off the pole of the #60 Lamborghini. In qualifying for race two, the fastest BMW Maxime Martin in the #46 car that he shares with Valentino Rossi. Martin was seventh fastest and was about a half-second off the pole time of the #40 Audi. The #30 BMW M4 GT3 of Niklas Krütten and Calan Williams was second fastest in the Gold Cup class.
In race one, Weerts and Vanthoor worked their way into the top five in the #32 car and made it up into fourth place toward the end of the race. They were classified in fourth at the finish, but a penalty handed down to the Ferrari that finished ahead of them (for contact with Vanthoor), resulted in a third-place podium finish for Weerts and Vanthoor, behind the winning #40 Audi and the second-place #12 Audi. The #30 BMW of Krütten and Williams had a strong race, finishing fifth overall and first in the Gold Cup class. Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi also had a good race after starting way down in 36th place, with both of them making up several positions in their stints to finish sixth in Pro Cup.
In race two, the #32 of Weerts and Vanthoor was once again the top-placed BMW but could only manage a fifth-place finish, as the race was won by the championship-leading Mercedes and Audis finished in second and third. The #46 BMW of Rossi and Martin finished in seventh, while the #30 of Krütten and Williams that had won race one had some tire issues and finished in 31st overall.
After the Hockenheim weekend, Weerts and Vanthoor were in third place in the Pro Cup championship. “We managed to secure a podium and a fifth-place finish here, even though we didn’t have the pace of some of our competitors throughout the weekend,” said Weerts. “The team did an outstanding job, making the most of the opportunities available to us here and keeping our championship hopes alive.” With their win in race one, Krütten and Williams managed to hold on to the championship lead in the Gold Cup class.
The next rounds of the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup season take place at the Valencia circuit in Spain on the weekend of September 15th-17th. —David Haueter
[Photos courtesy BMW, SRO]