The Belgian WRT team has confirmed the switch to BMW for its 2023 GT3 programmes as it began testing with a roster of drivers including MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi.
The move to BMW for the Spa and Nurburgring 24 Hours-winning squad has been an open secret since August on the twin announcements of its split with Audi in the GT ranks and its new partnership with the Munich marque in the World Endurance Championship from 2024 with the M Hybrid LMDh prototype.
Team boss Vincent Vosse was able to finally confirm that WRT will be running the new BMW M4 GT3 next year on the squad’s first day of testing with the car at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on Monday.
“I can confirm that we will be running BMW GT3 cars next year,” Vosse told Motorsport.com. “What I can’t say is what our programmes will be.”
The test followed last weekend’s closing round of the GT World Challenge Europe in Barcelona, which appears to have been WRT’s final race outing with the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II after 13 seasons with the Volkswagen brand.
The team is not representing Audi in this weekend’s Intercontinental GT Challenge round at Indianapolis and an assault on the series finale in Abu Dhabi, the Gulf 12 Hours, in December is unlikely, according to Vosse.
Seven-time MotoGP world champion Rossi was among the drivers to try WRT’s first pair of M4 GT3s in Spain at the start of the week.
Vosse confirmed that the Italian was joined by Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Thomas Neubauer, both regulars with the team in the GTWCE this year, over the course of the day.
It is also understood that Audi factory drivers Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, who sealed a third consecutive GTWCE Sprint Cup title together this year, were present at the test and are believed to have tried the cars.
Vosse described WRT’s first day of running with the M4 as “trouble-free and just about getting a lot of information”.
He explained that the team is moving onto Valencia this week to continue testing and that it has “quite a big programme planned over the winter”.
Vosse wouldn’t be drawn on WRT’s GT3 programmes with the BMW next year while adding that it will not be “a big surprise”.
That suggests renewed assaults on the endurance and sprint legs of the GTWCE in 2023 with multi-car assaults in each.
Rossi looks likely to be part of WRT’s 2023 campaign in what will be his second full season of car racing.
He reiterated a desire to remain in the GTWCE on the completion of his maiden campaign in Barcelona last weekend and Vosse has confirmed that dialogue has already opened about 2023.
“We are discussing, nothing is fixed, but I don’t see any reason to change,” said Vosse.
WRT has also outlined an intent for its prototype arm to continue running a pair of ORECA-Gibson 07s in the WEC next year alongside a test programme with the M Hybrid V8.