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Valentino Rossi at the Nurburgring 3 Hours 2023 GTWCE

Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Credit: Patrick Hecq

Coming off the back of a maiden GT World Challenge victory, Valentino Rossi took to the Nurburgring for the first time in GT Cars, and unfortunately, it didn’t exactly go to plan.

A difficult qualifying with heavy rain, and the ensuing mixed conditions made it a difficult session for the #46 crew of Valentino Rossi, Maxime Martin, and Augusto Farfus, who ended up qualifying a shock P22. The Nurburgring circuit seemed to not favour the BMW machinery at all throughout the weekend, as it really did struggle to keep up with leading Lamborghini, Mercedes, and the Audi machinery.

The circuit should have theoretically suited them, with plenty of straights and high-speed corners, but with a mixture of track elevations at various points, and bumpy portion of track, it meant the BMW’s chassis seemed to struggle just a bit more, and also wasn’t as fast accelerating out of the corners.

The entire WRT team had really struggled in qualifying, not just the #46 BMW. However, during the race, which started with some opening lap chaos, Rossi managed to filter his way through the pack after dropping to P23. He had recovered on his opening stint, to P17, before allowing the slightly faster teammates of the #32 BMW past. Finishing his stint by battling hard and overtaking many cars, mixed in with lapped traffic, it was a successful opening stint, and looked pretty promising.

Credit: Jules Benichou

Augusto Farfus took over from Valentino Rossi, and perhaps was showing his inexperience inside the BMW, as the gaps did increase, and they began losing some time to cars in front. Farfus shouldn’t be blamed for this in any way, as the entire weekend was very difficult for the BMW machinery, and Farfus also doesn’t have as much experience in the BMW compared to Martin and Rossi, as he only drives in the Endurance Cup of the GTWC.

Farfus brought his safe stint to a close by handing over to Maxime Martin for the final stint, but this would quickly turn catastrophic, as Maxime Martin couldn’t avoid a slow moving backmarker, and ran into the rear of the car, picking up terminal front-end damage.

A really tough weekend for all the BMW’s, with a Mercedes domination, made for a poor showing for the #46 WRT Team. Coming off the back of their victory in Misano, this was definitely a weekend to learn from, and is a sure sign - Despite becoming winners in GT, Rossi, Martin, Farfus and the entire team still have much to learn, and much to do.

With the #46 team looking to come back stronger at the next round at the Hockenheim circuit in early September, they should use this extended break to really analyse their performance here at the Nurburgring, and make a comeback at the Hockenheim track, because frankly - As race winners now, this was not quite enough. Especially when the #32 WRT BMW ended up finishing inside the Top 10.

What did you think of the Nurburgring weekend for the #46 crew?

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