A DIFFICULT ‘STREET WEEKEND’ FOR TEAM WRT AT THE NORISRING AND VILA REAL

A DIFFICULT ‘STREET WEEKEND’ FOR TEAM WRT AT THE NORISRING AND VILA REAL

07/07/2019

It wasn’t the weekend that Team WRT had hoped for on none of the two fronts where it was active. At the Norisring, in the fourth round of the DTM, the Audi RS 5 LMS of WRT Team Audi Sport could not score points, for the first time in its maiden season in the series, as Jonathan Aberdein and Pietro Fittipaldi suffered incidents in Race 1 and were out of the top-10 in Race 2. On that unique street track, the cars of the Belgian squad seemed to have a good pace in qualifying but not in the races.

Things went a little bit better in Vila Real, another street track, in the sixth round of the FIA WTCR, although the Audi RS 3 LMS of Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport also had a difficult time to find the right pace. Still, Jean-Karl Vernay was again able to bring home two top-5 finishes despite the circumstances.

Vincent Vosse (Team Principal): “It wasn’t a great weekend in the DTM. Again, we did well in qualifying, but had not enough pace and speed in the races. We need to understand whether it is a general problem or it was linked to the very specific nature of the Norisring track. As for the FIA WTCR at Vila Real, anyone on site could see what the situation was and now we wait for some answers”.


DTM

The WRT Team Audi Sport drivers discovered the special essence of the Norisring exercise in free practice, where they were 17th (Fittipaldi) and 18th (Aberdein) in the first session. They improved in free practice 2, making the top-15, with Fittipaldi 12nd and Aberdein 15th, and in Qualifying 1, Aberdein could sign the 9th -fastest time, with Fittipaldi in P15.

Race 1 could not start in a more disappointing way for the Belgian squad, as Fittipaldi was hit at first corner by one of the Aston and had to retire on the spot with a bent suspension. Shortly after the restart of the race in lap 10, Aberdein was involved in another incident: the South African was left with no other option to hit the car of Timo Glock, who had been sent into a spin. The Black-and-red Audi suffered damage in the front and had to pit for repairs but could rejoin the race to take a final P13, three laps down.

On Sunday, the cars had again a better pace in qualifying than in the race. Aberdein was 10thon the grid, with Fittipaldi in P15. Both had a relatively difficult race, which they finished one behind the other, in P14 and 15, respectively.

Jonathan Aberdein: “A tough weekend for us. We show promising pace in qualifying but, for some reason, we cannot translate that into results in the races. We seem to struggle with tire degradation and it’s something we need to look into to try to improve for next races.”

Pietro Fittipaldi: “Race 1 was disappointing, as I was collected by one of the Aston in turn 1 and my race ended there with suspension and steering damage. On Sunday, I couldn’t find a clear lap in qualifying but the pace seemed good. Unfortunately, in the race, the pace wasn’t there because of tire degradation. We have to work on that, and put our heads together to solve this problem.”

FIA WTCR

Since free practices, and as unfortunately expected, the Audi RS 3 LMS paid significant gap with respect to top competitors. Jean-Karl Vernay was 18th in free practice 1 and 13rd in free practice 2 while still the best-placed of the Audi drivers. In Qualifying for Race 1, he was again the fastest Audi driver, with P12 which later became P11 on the grid. Gordon Shedden qualified 25th after struggling even more than the Frenchman.


Race 1 was relatively uneventful, with Vernay managing to gain one position and finishing 10th. Shedden fought to climb up positions on a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult to take a P17 full of merits. On Sunday, Vernay managed to make the cut to Q2 by taking P12 in Q1, with Shedden qualifying 21st. In Q2, the Frenchman signed an excellent sixth-fastest time. In Race 2, JKV ran as high as 5th before taking 4th thanks to the “joker lap” and keeping that position until the end, while Shedden finished 21st. Finally, in Race 3, Vernay was again in the top-5, keeping 5th for most of a race that saw Shedden ousted from almost outright by a brake pedal issue.

Late in the evening after Saturday’s race 1 and Sunday’s race 3, several cars among which the one of Vernay were disqualified, as the tolerance of the maximum boost pressure had been exceeded. Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport notified to the FIA their intention to appeal the decisions to clarify the related matters in the additional period resulting from the appeal.


Jean-Karl Vernay: “Seeing how the weekend started, we came a long way and we can be very happy of our Sunday: good qualifying, good racing, good strategy with the ‘joker lap’ and two good results on the track.”

Gordon Shedden: We pushed hard all weekend with no success. We need to understand the problems in detail to have solutions before going to Asia.”

DTM – Round 4
Norisring, Germany, 5-7 July 2019

Race 1 Result
1. René Rast (Audi) 69 laps

2. Nico Müller (Audi) +34s498
3. Joel Erksson (BMW) +34s692
4. Loïc Duval (Audi) +39s521
5. Bruno Spengler (BMW) +42s111

13. Jonathan Aberdein (Audi) + 3 laps
DNF Pietro Fittipaldi (Audi) 0 laps (contact)

Race 2 Result
1. Bruno Spengler (BMW) 70 laps

2. Jamie Green (Audi) + 5s765
3. Mike Rockefeller (Audi) + 6s833
4. Robin Frijns (Audi) +11s695

5. Philipp Eng (BMW) +16s636
14. Jonathan Aberdein (Audi) + 1 lap
15. Pietro Fittipaldi (Audi) + 2 laps

FIA WTCR - Round 6
Vila Real, Portugal, 5-7 July 2019

Race 1 Result
1. Norbert Michelisz (Hyundai i30N) 11 laps
2. Yann Ehrlacher (Lynk&Co 03) + 2s291
3. Augusto Farfus (Hyundai i30N) + 3s009
4. Rob Huff (VW Golf GTi) + 3s538
5. Nicky Catsburg (Hyundai I30N) + 7s630
10. Jean-Karl Vernay (Audi RS 3 LMS) +17s248
17. Gordon Shedden (Audi RS 3 LMS) +29s525

Race 2 Result
1. Mikel Azcona (Cupra) 11 laps
2. Ma Qinghua (Alfa Romeo Giulietta) + 4s832
3. Esteban Guerrieri (Honda Civic) + 5s538
4. Jean-Karl Vernay(Audi RS 3 LMS) + 6s812
5. Nicky Catsburg (Hyundai i30N) + 7s482
21. Gordon Shedden (Audi RS 3 LMS) +34s815

Race 3 Result
1.Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic) 14 laps
2. Yvan Muller (Lynk&Co 03) +2s295
3. Yann Ehrlacher (Lynk&Co 03) +2s647
4. Mikel Azcona (Cupra) +2s959
5. Jean-Karl Vernay (Audi RS 3 LMS) +6s816
DNF Gordon Shedden (Audi RS 3 LMS) 1 lap (mechanical)

PHOTO: Audi Sport

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