Bathurst 12 Hour winners swap Audi for BMW

The 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour-winning WRT Audi

Bathurst 12 Hour-winning squad Team WRT will defect from Audi to BMW at season’s end.

The Belgian outfit reached an agreement with the Munich operation to run the BMW M Hybrid V8, with factory backing, in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) from 2024 onwards.

Team WRT won the 2018 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour with Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard, and Dries Vanthoor in the #37 Audi R8 LMS GT3.

The squad was in the lead when a massive crash ended the race minutes from the end.

The announcement sees the team split from the Ingolstadt marque, which it has campaigned entries for in global GT racing since its foundation in 2009.

Team WRT has enjoyed success in GT3 races and competitions across the world, securing 13 drivers’ championship titles and over 20 other class titles with the Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Head of Audi Sport Customer Racing Chris Reinke said the split marks the end of a highly successful partnership.

“After 13 fantastic years, we will be going our separate ways from 2023 but we will continue to have friendly ties,” Reinke said.

“The close relationship with Vincent Vosse as well as with Yves and Pascal Weerts is characterized by deep trust, shared sporting values and an absolute drive for success.

“A big thank-you to them and their entire team, combined with best wishes for the future.”

Team WRT Principal Vincent Vosse said the decision allows the team to realise its dream of competing in the new Hypercar era of WEC.

“All of us at Team WRT are extremely happy with the start of this new partnership with BMW M Motorsport and feel honoured to be associated with a brand that has such an awesome pedigree in motor racing,” Vosse 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 programme 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 neighbouring box.

“We will work hard to repeat these moments and live them together.”

Team WRT will now begin preparations, ahead of its WEC programme next year.

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