BMW M Team WRT have confirmed which six drivers will take the wheel of their two Hypercars in the 2024 FIA WEC as they make their return to the top flight of prototype sportscar racing. The line-up features multiple DTM champions and seasoned WEC veterans, with several of them making their Hypercar debut with the Bavarian marque.
Sheldon van der Linde and Marco Wittmann, both of whom have experience racing the BMW M Hybrid V8, are split between the two cars. In car #15, Wittmann will be joined by Dries Vanthoor and newcomer to BMW Raffaele Marciello, while van der Linde will share car #20 with WEC veteran Robin Frijns and three-time DTM champion René Rast.
The BMW M Hybrid V8 has already seen action in the 2023 IMSA Sportscar Championship, taking victory at the 2023 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. With other teams like Ferrari already having experienced a season in the Hypercar class, BMW have a challenge to catch up to them. However, with their driver line-up and experience in IMSA, they are ready and raring to go.
Germany’s Marco Wittmann is no stranger to the BMW Hypercar, having competed in it in the 2023 IMSA Sportscar Championship in America. Having won the DTM drivers’ championship twice for BMW, he is eager to to the same in the top class of sportscar racing. “I am extremely excited about the Hypercar class in the FIA WEC,” the 34 year old explained. “There is a lot of genuine hype around this class in 2024, with so many manufacturers and top-class drivers. It is fantastic to be a part of it.”
Having been with Team WRT for many years, Belgium’s Dries Vanthoor had already been confirmed as one of the Hypercar drivers. The 25 year old competed in the 2022 WEC season in the now defunct LMP2 class. Vanthoor will be racing against his older brother, Laurens Vanthoor, who has retained his seat at Porsche Penske Motorsport and already has a Hypercar series under his belt.
While he is a newcomer to the BMW M Motorsport fold, Switzerland’s Raffaele Marciello is certainly no stranger to success. He dominated the 2023 FIA GT World Cup, winning both the qualifying and main races for Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf. He is now relishing the challenge of taking on the Hypercar class, saying “challenging for race wins and titles in the FIA WEC, with so many big manufacturers, is exactly the challenge I was hoping for. Having been opponents on the racetrack for years, it is fantastic to now drive alongside Dries Vanthoor” he enthused, adding “and to have a BMW M Motorsport legend like Marco Wittmann on your side is fantastic.”
24 year old Sheldon van der Linde was the other pre-announced driver, along with Vanthoors, for BMW’s 2024 Hypercar campaign. The South African star won the 2022 DTM drivers’ championship and took the BMW Hypercar to second place on the podium in the 2023 12 Hours of Sebring. This young driver brings huge talent and experience of racing the BMW M Hybrid V8 to the table, which will be invaluable as the team make their debut against more experienced competitors.
Dutchman Robin Frijns brings even more experience, having competed in the LMP2 class of the FIA WEC since 2021. He won the drivers’ championship for Team WRT in their debut year, including a race win at the holy grail of endurance racing, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “I have gained experience in the LMP2 class of the FIA WEC – always with the goal of starting in the Hypercar class,” Frijns explained. “I now have that opportunity with BMW M Motorsport, and am absolutely thrilled. My team-mates René and Sheldon are both super guys who I know well from the DTM. I am driving alongside two champions – what could possibly go wrong?“
Indeed, Frijns is the odd one out from the #20 car, having competed in DTM but not becoming a champion. The final driver, René Rast, has achieved that title three times in 2017, 2019 and 2020. Having won two rounds in LMP2 in 2022, he is also very enthusiastic about the exciting prospect of the 2024 Hypercar class. “It is awesome to now be part of a new golden era of endurance racing. I am very much looking forward to the challenge and believe we will be competitive with BMW M Team WRT, the team of engineers at BMW M Motorsport, and the squad of drivers we have.”
With more driver announcements expected from the record 19 car Hypercar grid, 2024 is set to be a vintage year for world endurance racing. The action kicks off at the Qatar 1812km on 02 March 2024.