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BMW Team Wins Indianapolis 8 Hour with Dominant Performance

Sunday, October 8, 2023 Paul Kelly, Indianapolis Motor Speedway


Sheldon van der Linde of South Africa drove the No. 30 Team WRT BMW M4 GT3 to a 53.110-second victory after sharing the car for eight hours with Philipp Eng of Austria and Dries Vanthoor of Belgium.

Team WRT wasted little time showing its winning intent Saturday and carried through with a dominant performance and victory in the Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Sheldon van der Linde of South Africa drove the No. 30 Team WRT BMW M4 GT3 to a 53.110-second victory after sharing the car for eight hours with Philipp Eng of Austria and Dries Vanthoor of Belgium. This was the third consecutive Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli victory this season for BMW.

The winning team also set a distance record for this event, completing 333 laps (812.187 miles) on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.

“From the beginning of the weekend, we knew we had a very good car,” van der Linde said. “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 shared by Raffaele Marciello of Switzerland, Maximilian Gotz of Germany and Jules Gounon of Andorra finished second. That team edged the No. 999 Mercedes-AMG Team Gruppe M Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Maro Engel of Germany, Daniel Juncadella of Spain and Luca Stolz of Germany by just .530 of a second at the finish after sunset as celebratory fireworks illuminated the darkness over the Racing Capital of the World.

Eng started fourth in the 22-car field but wasted no time finding the top spot, driving from his fourth starting position to the lead on the first lap of the race. Vanthoor kept the team out front and handed the car to van der Linde just past the three-hour mark of the race, and the team was caught making about its only mistake of the day.

Van der Linde was called to the pits for a drive-through penalty after it was determined that Vanthoor’s driving stint was 11 seconds longer than series rules allow. Charles Weerts inherited the lead in the sister No. 31 Team WRT BMW after van der Linde served his team’s penalty, but that was short-lived as he pitted about 20 minutes later for what appeared to be a slow puncture.

Marciello then took the lead in the No. 77 Mercedes-AMG GT3, which won this race last year with him behind the wheel in a nail-biting final stint. But Marciello was off sequence on pit stops and handed the lead back to the No. 31 Team WRT BMW with Augusto Farfus behind the wheel after stopping just before the halfway point.

Meanwhile, Eng and the No. 30 passed Gounon in the No. 77 for second with about three and one-half hours remaining, as the BMWs marched 1-2 around the course. By that point, the sole remaining question was which Team WRT car would win.

The answer came with about two hours, 23 minutes remaining as Farfus and the No. 31 were eliminated from the lead with suspension damage after colliding in Turn 1 with the lapped No. 33 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 driven by Onofrio Triarsi of the United States.

Eng took the lead in the No. 30 after that incident, handing the car to van der Linde for the final stint on the team’s final pit stop with 65 minutes remaining. The No. 77 and No. 999 Mercedes both pitted from the top two positions for their final service with less than an hour remaining, and van der Linde regained the lead and cruised to the finish.

Marciello managed a damaged front splitter on his Mercedes over the final hour to hold off Stolz for second as darkness descended on the Speedway.

2023 INDY NXT by Firestone Rookie of the Year Nolan Siegel was part of the No. 04 Crowdstrike by Riley team that won the Pro-Am class in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS series, which raced simultaneously with the global series for the entire eight hours. Siegel shared the team’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 car with fellow American drivers George Kurtz and Colin Braun. The trio finished sixth overall after qualifying 17th.

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