BMW M Team WRT’s race debut with the BMW M4 GT3 was more than successful. Team principal Vincent Vosse and his crew claimed their maiden victory in their first race with the car. After a thrilling finish, the #7 BMW M4 GT3 took the chequered flag in first place. Third place for the #46 BMW M4 GT3 rounded off a successful weekend for BMW M Team WRT.
Dubai. BMW M Team WRT’s race debut with the BMW M4 GT3 was more than successful. Team principal Vincent Vosse and his crew claimed their maiden victory in their first race with the car. After a thrilling finish, the #7 BMW M4 GT3 took the chequered flag in first place. This was the first win for the BMW M4 GT3 in a 24-hour race and BMW’s first triumph at the 24H Dubai since Schubert Motorsport’s success in 2011. Third place for the #46 BMW M4 GT3 rounded off a successful weekend for BMW M Team WRT. The outing in Dubai was organised privately by BMW M Team WRT, in order to prepare for the first official appearance with BMW M Motorsport, the “Bathurst 12 Hours” (AUS) in three weeks.
Alternating at the wheel of the victorious #7 car were BMW M works drivers Jens Klingmann (GER) and Dries Vanthoor (BEL), alongside Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud (KSA), Diego Menchaca (MEX) and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (FRA). This was Klingmann‘s first victory in a 24-hour race. He was closely involved in the development of the BMW M4 GT3 from the beginning and with his experience of the car, he was able to offer great support to the team in Dubai. The #46 car was driven by BMW M works drivers Valentino Rossi (ITA), Maxime Martin (BEL) and Max Hesse (GER), together with Timothy Whale (GBR) and Sean Gelael (IDN), who was contesting his first race in a GT3 car. For nine-time motorcycle world champion Rossi, it was the first podium with WRT.
Starting from sixth on the grid, the #7 BMW M4 GT3 soon found itself involved in the battle for the lead and, for long stretches of the race, was running in first place. However, the race was destined for a really exciting finish. After numerous Code 60 phases, the #7 car entered the final half an hour in second place. Thanks to a perfect strategy, Vanthoor was able to regain the lead and complete a stunning victory for BMW M Team WRT.
The crew of the #46 car, which started from eighth place, also established itself in the top three early in the race, however it dropped back down the field after two and a half hours, when the car spun into the crash barriers on a circuit that had become slippery due to liquid on the track. After a short check-up in the garage, car #46 was able to rejoin the race and set about working its way back through the field and onto the podium. After 24 hours of racing, Rossi came home in a comfortable third place.
The #14 BMW M4 GT3 run by Danish team Poulsen Motorsport was also running well, but was then forced to retire in the closing stages.
In the GT4 class, the new BMW M4 GT4 also enjoyed a successful start to its debut season. Both cars in the starting field made it onto the podium in their class. The #438 BMW M4 GT4 of Simpson Motorsport crossed the finish line in second place, ahead of Century Motorsport in third place with its new #429 BMW M4 GT4. The RHC-Jorgensen-Strom by Century team, which competed with the previous model of the BMW M4 GT4, failed to finish.
Quotes after the 24H Dubai.
Andreas Roos, Head of BMW M Motorsport: “It was a fantastic race debut for BMW M Team WRT with the BMW M4 GT3. Congratulations on the victory and third place. Vincent Vosse’s team did an outstanding job and familiarised itself superbly with the car, the drivers were fast and flawless, and our BMW M4 GT3 ran like clockwork. This success made the 24H Dubai the perfect dress rehearsal for the team ahead of its first official outing with BMW M Motorsport, the 12 Hours of Bathurst in three weeks. However, I am also delighted with the successful start for our new BMW M4 GT4 in its debut season. Both cars finished on the podium in the GT4 class after 24 hours of racing. That shows how competitive our new customer race car is already.”
Vincent Vosse, Team Principal BMW M Team WRT: “The race went quite smoothly. We did not expect that after qualifying as we were missing a bit of pace but with the drivers and the crew we were able to have a great strategy. That helped us to put the #7 car in the lead and then to manage the window of the strategy. That is the most important thing here to be able to win. The car was very strong, it ran trouble-free. The #46 had a small contact at the beginning of the race, otherwise I think they would have fought with car #7. To get familiar with the car in race conditions is important. We knew that it is possible to win if the car can make it to the end, if we don’t do mistakes, if we don’t get penalties. There was some strong opposition – but they did mistakes and we tried to avoid them. It was the right decision to participate in the race instead of continuing to test. The race went well and we learnt a lot.“
Jens Klingmann (#7 BMW M4 GT3, 1st place): “What a way to start! BMW M Team WRT did a super job, right from the first practice session. We improved a lot and focussed purely on race pace and ensuring that the balance of the car was right for all five drivers. And we did so successfully. In the end, it was an exciting finish, but the debut with BMW M Team WRT was more than successful. This victory means an awful lot to me personally. I was involved in the development of the BMW M4 GT3 from the word go, so to come here with the team and win the 24-hour race was very emotional. I think everyone can be proud – those in BMW M Team WRT and those at home with BMW M Motorsport in Munich. We have a good reason to celebrate this evening.”
Dries Vanthoor (#7 BMW M4 GT3, 1st place ): “I am thrilled that we won our first race with BMW M Motorsport. That race was not easy for us, the Porsche was always there. However, we made good calls during the Code 60 phases and came out on top in the end. The BMW M4 GT3 ran smoothly, the drivers, team, support from BMW M Motorsport – everything was super. It was a nice start and we now obviously hope that we will go on to claim many more victories.”
Valentino Rossi (#46 BMW M4 GT3, 3rd place): “I am very happy because it’s the first podium with WRT for me and to make it in my first race together with BMW M Motorsport is great. It is a sign. It is a great way to start. The race was good and I enjoyed it a lot. It was not easy but at the end we got the podium and that was our target.”
Maxime Martin (#46 BMW M4 GT3, 3rd place): “It’s definitely very good to start the season like this – with Valentino as a team-mate and a podium finish. It was my first race back with BMW M Motorsport, so I am really happy and looking forward to the season now. Next up for me is Daytona and the Bathurst, so I will try to be two steps higher because P3 is good but P1 is better.”
Max Hesse (#46 BMW M4 GT3, 3rd place): “Firstly, congratulations to BMW M Team WRT and BMW M Motorsport. Victory and third place – the season could not have started better. Our race went very well. We did have a few difficulties at times, but the team and us drivers all worked very, very well together. I am very happy. It was also very cool to drive alongside Valentino for the first time. He is a personality that we all need in motorsport, and it is fantastic to have him in the BMW M family.”