Mount Panorama is calling. Next weekend (3rd to 5th February), BMW M Team WRT will make its first official appearance together with BMW M Motorsport at Bathurst, Australia. The team, led by principal Vincent Vosse, will be competing in the classic Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race at the Mount Panorama Circuit with two BMW M4 GT3s. A strong line-up with six BMW M works drivers will alternate in the cockpits of the two cars.
DTM champion Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), Dries Vanthoor (BEL) and Charles Weerts (BEL) will be sharing driving duties in the #32 Shell BMW M4 GT3 at Bathurst. Augusto Farfus (BRA), Maxime Martin (BEL) and Valentino Rossi (ITA) will be competing in the #46 BMW M4 GT3. To prepare for the Bathurst 12 Hours, BMW M Team WRT raced at the 24H Dubai (UAE) in mid-January. The dress rehearsal with the BMW M4 GT3 was a great success with the team celebrating a win and third place on the podium. Vanthoor was part of the crew in the victorious BMW M4 GT3, while Rossi and Martin claimed third place with their driver team-mates.
The race weekend at Bathurst begins with the free practice session on Friday. Qualifying and the Top 10 shootout will take place on Saturday. The 12-hour race starts on Sunday at 5:45 local time. The Bathurst 12 Hours is the season-opener for the Intercontinental GT Challenge 2023, which also features the Kyalami 9 Hour (RSA) on the schedule for the third weekend in February and the 24h Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) at the end of July.
Quotes ahead of the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Andreas Roos, Head of BMW M Motorsport: “The Bathurst 12 Hour at the legendary Mount Panorama Circuit is a truly special event on the endurance racing calendar. This event is the perfect stage for the first official appearance of the BMW M Team WRT as a BMW M Motorsport team. After the successful dress rehearsal in Dubai, we are now looking forward to seeing the team in action with the BMW M4 GT3 at the unique circuit at Bathurst. It will be a challenge for the team, the drivers and the car but we have prepared well for this.”
Vincent Vosse, Team Principal BMW M Team WRT: “We’ve only been at Bathurst once before, in 2018, when we had the chance to win with Dries Vanthoor in the car. Our partnership with BMW M Motorsport has started in the best way winning the Dubai 24 Hours. It was a good way for us to learn even more about the BMW M4 GT3 after testing but now we have a very difficult race in front of us, a race with a lot of strategy and of course it is very important to know the track and the car. We have to go there very humbly as this kind of track can bite you back like the Nürburgring or Macau would do. I am very, very happy to go there and very happy to bring Valentino for his first outing as an official BMW M works driver, especially on such a track like Bathurst. Of course, officially representing BMW M Motorsport for the first time is something special in this new era for BMW M Team WRT. So let’s focus, let’s go head on and let’s see what we can do. But let’s be humble and bring back both cars with some points.“
Sheldon van der Linde (#32 Shell BMW M4 GT3): “The Bathurst 12 Hour have been on my bucket list for the past four years and I am very proud to be heading there with BMW M Team WRT in a factory based car. I think it is going to be something very special to turn my first laps on the mountain. I’ve heard so many crazy stories and apparently it’s one of the best tracks in the world so I can’t wait to see it for myself. It will obviously not be easy to jump in straight into free practice and into the race weekend without any testing but I am fully up to the challenge. I can’t wait to fully get to grips with the mountain and hopefully we will have another strong result. I’ve raced with Team WRT in the past so I do know the team already which is a very big advantage. Let’s hope we can bring back a big trophy and have a successful race weekend with BMW M Team WRT and BMW M Motorsport.”
Dries Vanthoor (#32 Shell BMW M4 GT3): “Bathurst is great. This will be my second time driving there. Charles and Sheldon haven’t been there before but I know that they will both learn the circuit quickly. I think that our BMW M4 GT3 will be strong there too. It is a high-speed circuit and I believe that suits the car. There is also plenty of grip. I am excited to see how things go there. I think that this will be a good combination for the BMW M4 GT3.”
Charles Weerts (#32 Shell BMW M4 GT3): “I am definitely looking forward to racing again. It has been a while since my last race last year. It is going to be my first race with BMW M Motorsport and I am really looking forward to start this new partnership. It is also going to be a great venue at Bathurst. I already saw a lot of videos of the track and some great battles there, so I can’t wait to make my debut there as I have never driven there before. For sure, it is going to be quite challenging but it’s a great way to start 2023 and I can’t wait to be there and to meet everybody again.”
Augusto Farfus (#46 BMW M4 GT3): “Bathurst is going to be a new challenge for me. It will be the first time for the BMW M4 GT3 there, my first race with BMW M Team WRT, my first race with my new team-mates Valentino and Maxime. Bathurst is one of my favourite tracks across the world so I am looking forward to get back behind the wheel of the BMW M4 GT3 on a great track that I am sure will suit the car.”
Maxime Martin (#46 BMW M4 GT3): “I am really looking forward to the weekend. The Bathurst 12 Hour is definitely a special race. It is not an easy one. It’s a very beautiful track but also very difficult and technical, but it’s one of the most exciting tracks in the world. It will be the first time that we will be racing with our line-up with Augusto and Valentino so I am looking forward to the big challenge that awaits us there. We will try to optimise the package we have and to have a good result.”
Valentino Rossi (#46 BMW M4 GT3): “I’m excited to go to Bathurst. It will be my first time racing in Australia in a car and it will be very challenging because it is an important race at a very high level. Also the track is very particular so we hope to be competitive there too. I don’t know yet exactly what we can expect there because it’s my first time at Bathurst but I know that in that race there are a lot of fast cars and fast drivers. Anyway, we will try to fight for the top positions. I have a good feeling with the BMW M4 GT3; it is easy to drive. As always you have to work but it gives you good feedback.”
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