BMW Team Secures Indianapolis 8 Hour Victory with Commanding Performance

Team WRT wasted no time displaying their determination on Saturday, and their dominant performance culminated in a victory at the Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Behind the wheel of the No. 30 Team WRT BMW M4 GT3, Sheldon van der Linde of South Africa, along with his co-drivers Philipp Eng of Austria and Dries Vanthoor of Belgium, secured a commanding victory with a lead of 53.110 seconds. This marked BMW’s third consecutive victory in the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli this season.

In addition to their victory, the team set a distance record for the event, completing an impressive 333 laps, equivalent to 812.187 miles, on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.

Sheldon van der Linde expressed his satisfaction, saying, “From the beginning of the weekend, we knew we had a very good car. The team has been amazing this whole weekend. We made no mistakes in the race other than the little mishap in the pit stop. Super happy with the win. First time in IMS for me personally, and I can’t wait to kiss the bricks.”

The No. 77 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, piloted by Raffaele Marciello of Switzerland, Maximilian Gotz of Germany, and Jules Gounon of Andorra, finished in second place. They managed to edge out the No. 999 Mercedes-AMG Team Gruppe M Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, driven by Maro Engel of Germany, Daniel Juncadella of Spain, and Luca Stolz of Germany, by a mere .530 of a second as they crossed the finish line amidst celebratory fireworks lighting up the Racing Capital of the World.

Philipp Eng, starting in fourth position among the 22-car field, swiftly climbed to the lead on the first lap of the race, wasting no time in making his mark. Dries Vanthoor then maintained their lead and eventually handed over the car to Sheldon van der Linde after the three-hour mark, but the team faced a minor hiccup during a pit stop. Van der Linde received a drive-through penalty after it was determined that Vanthoor’s stint exceeded the allowed time by 11 seconds according to series regulations.

Charles Weerts briefly inherited the lead in the sister No. 31 Team WRT BMW after van der Linde served the penalty. However, Weerts returned to the pits approximately 20 minutes later due to what appeared to be a slow puncture.

Raffaele Marciello assumed the lead in the No. 77 Mercedes-AMG GT3, aiming to replicate his nail-biting victory from last year’s race. But Marciello’s pit stops were off sequence, and he ultimately relinquished the lead to the No. 31 Team WRT BMW, now driven by Augusto Farfus, just before the halfway point.

As the race progressed, Philipp Eng and the No. 30 BMW passed Jules Gounon in the No. 77 Mercedes, solidifying a 1-2 position for the BMWs. At that point, the primary question was which Team WRT car would claim victory.

The decisive moment arrived with approximately two hours and 23 minutes remaining when Augusto Farfus and the No. 31 car sustained suspension damage after colliding with the lapped No. 33 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3, driven by Onofrio Triarsi of the United States.

After that incident, Philipp Eng took the lead in the No. 30 BMW and handed it over to Sheldon van der Linde for the final stint during their last pit stop, which occurred with 65 minutes left. Both the No. 77 and No. 999 Mercedes pitted from the top two positions for their final service with less than an hour remaining, allowing van der Linde to regain the lead and secure a smooth finish.

Raffaele Marciello managed to maintain second place with a damaged front splitter on his Mercedes during the final hour, successfully holding off Luca Stolz in the No. 999 Mercedes as darkness descended on the Speedway.

In another event taking place simultaneously, the No. 04 Crowdstrike by Riley team, featuring 2023 INDY NXT by Firestone Rookie of the Year Nolan Siegel alongside American drivers George Kurtz and Colin Braun, claimed victory in the Pro-Am class in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS series. Despite qualifying 17th, they finished an impressive sixth overall in their Mercedes-AMG GT3.

NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Callum Ilott was part of the No. 120 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R team, which secured third place in the Pro-Am class in Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS competition.

Reference:

https://www.speedsport.com/sports-cars/other-sports-cars/bmw-rules-indianapolis-8-hour-with-1-2-punch/

https://www.gt-world-challenge-america.com/news/849/racing-into-the-night-indianapolis-8-hour-presented-by-aws

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