BMW M Team WRT experienced a rollercoaster of emotions at the Intercontinental GT Challenge season opener at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama Circuit. Despite showing impressive speed in the qualifications and in the race, it ultimately faced setbacks due to incidents and unpredictable weather. The team saw its #32 BMW M4 GT3, driven by Sheldon van der Linde, Charles Weerts, and Dries Vanthoor, retire early after an accident despite starting from pole position. Meanwhile, their teammates in the #46 BMW M4 GT3, including motorsport star Valentino Rossi, Maxime Martin, and Raffaele Marciello, were contenders for a podium finish until the final lap of the race but finished in fifth place.

A Race Full Of Incidents

The race was fraught with challenges, including multiple appearances by the BMW XM Safety Car due to accidents, particularly in the crucial 40 minutes before the finish, which set the stage for an intense battle for the podium. Maxime Martin’s attempt at securing a third-place finish was thwarted by a minor braking error on the still-damp track, following a late-race thunderstorm that added to the day’s drama.

Fifth Place For Rossi, Martin and Marciello

The eventful weekend began with optimism for BMW M Team WRT when van der Linde clinched pole position for the #32 car in the Top-10 Pole Shootout. The race kicked off in the early hours of Sunday morning, with both BMW M4 GT3s quickly asserting themselves as front-runners. However, their fortunes took a turn nearly five hours into the race when the #32 car was involved in a heavy crash with a lapped car, ending their campaign prematurely.

Despite the setback, the #46 team remained in contention, navigating through the changing weather and a temporary setback from a drive-through penalty to challenge for the lead. The victory was clinched by Team Manthey EMA and their Porsche 992 GT3R, followed by SunEnergy1’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Wash It Team MPC’s Audi R8 LMS Evo II.