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Maxime Martin: "The goal is to race in WEC with the Hypercar" - Maxime Martin Interview

Interview Conducted and Written by Owen Bradley

Maxime Martin is one of the greatest GT drivers in the world. A Le Mans 24 Hours winner in 2020, Martin has branched out over the years and has found success in a variety of GT classes, and now drives in the IMSA endurance races in the BMW GTP Hypercar.

With the Le Mans 24 Hours 2024 upon us, Maxime is paired with MotoGP legend, Valentino Rossi, who makes his Le Mans debut in front of an adoring crowd with their BMW M4 LMGT3.

In this Exclusive Interview, Maxime speaks about the World Endurance Championship (WEC), the GT World Challenge (GTWC) and the IMSA championship, along with his personal goals and what it has been like competing with Valentino Rossi, as well as Maxime's incredibly busy racing calendar.

MM - Maxime Martin

OB - Owen Bradley

Maxime Martin - Exclusive Interview

OB: So last year, you and Valentino {Rossi} managed to get many podiums across the Intercontinental GT World Challenge, as well as the GT World Challenge Europe. Now competing in the World Endurance Championship - What is the goal for this season, in both the World Endurance and GT World Challenge? MM: "I mean, definitely now the goal is to try to step up compared to last year, last year we had three podiums in the sprints, Vale had a podium in IGTC in Abu Dhabi, so I think now it's to try to step up and try to have potentially more podiums in the sprints, but also to try and have at least one podium in the Endurance rounds, which I think would be a great achievement as well.

The main goal, or one of the biggest goals is to try and win the World Endurance Championship and also to try and win the Le Mans 24 Hours."

OB: Maxime, it's your first full-time season in the World Endurance since the Pandemic, how much has changed in the four/five years since you were last competing in the WEC? MM: "It has changed quite a bit, because we now have a lot more cars in the GT class, there is no Pro cars anymore, they are all Pro-Am. A lot more LMDH Hypercars, so the traffic is also quite different even though we had the LMP2 cars. It has changed but the format didn't change and the championship itself hasn't changed, so it's just more cars in different categories, which makes the traffic and strategy a bit different, but overall the championship is mostly the same."

OB: It's your second season working with the BMW M4 GT3 and with Valentino Rossi, what has that experience been like for you? MM: "I mean it's been great! At the moment, as you said it's the second season so we had quite a good learning curve last year for the team as well, as it was their first year with the car, so we have foundations and bases that are better than last year because we were learning everything. We had quite a lot of testing at the beginning of last year, to try to step up and throughout the season it was all a learning curve and so we are more prepared this year.

It has gone really well with Vale, we have a really good relationship together, and a lot of fun which is quite important in the team. But now we have to try and step up, try to get more podiums and try to use the bigger races to our advantage."

OB: Which circuit would you say, gives you the best opportunity to win?

MM: "I think it's difficult to know, we had Paul Ricard (GTWC Endurance) where we were very close to the podium and I don't think we were really expecting to be there. Spa is usually a good option because in Spa, a lot of things happen, there are a lot of Safety Cars, so we have to stay in the game without any contact, to have a good car without any penalties. So for sure, if the car is competitive and we don't make any big mistakes then we will be there somehow at the end.

I think Spa is a good chance, but honestly every race, we are there and if we are competitive, then we have a chance to go on the podium."

OB: You are racing Full-Time in the World Endurance Championship and GT World Challenge Endurance Cup, and then part-time in the GT World Challenge Sprint Cup, among competing in other races like the Nurburgring 24 Hours, how do you handle your busy schedule? MM: "All the championships are quite different, it's always different rules and different tyres and also a different environment, but I think I am used to it, I'm quite experienced in different series and different categories and brands, so you know what to do and when to do it, and it helps to have previous experience."

OB: You also raced in IMSA earlier this year, at Daytona and Sebring, and you were driving the BMW GTP Hypercar, how did that feel, compared to the GT3 cars you are used to racing? MM: "It was amazing to fight for the overall victory in Daytona and Sebring, races where I've been a lot of times but usually in GT's, so it was good to step up and to be in the leading class. We have one more race, the Petit Le Mans at the end of the year, and I hope I will have a bit of mileage before that race as well, a bit of testing, because all year long I'm doing GT racing, and I don't really drive the GTP. The last race in the GTP was in Sebring in March, and then you go to Petit Le Mans which is in October, and I won't have driven the car in between, so hopefully I can have some tests to be well prepared for the last race."

OB: Can we expect to see you in the WEC Hypercar class in the near future? MM: "I don't know, to be honest, it's difficult to know but for sure it's the goal, I never lie to BMW or to anyone and say that, 'I want to be in Hypercar' because I do the Endurance races in IMSA, which is the first step, but definitely my goal is to try to be in a full-time GTP or Hypercar or LMDH for a full season with IMSA and WEC."

OB: Finally, with Valentino Rossi's debut appearance at the Le Mans 24 Hours and with the team already scoring a podium in WEC at Imola, is it possible to win on Vale's debut? MM: "Of course, it's definitely possible. We have a really strong lineup in WEC, with Ahmad Al-Harthy who is doing an amazing job as a bronze rated driver, and Vale is one of the best silver's you can have, and I'm in the Pro, so I think we have a really good and competitive lineup."

A special thanks to Maxime Martin, Team WRT and the SRO GT World Challenge Europe for organising this interview.


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