The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT ready to take up the challenges of the 2019 Endurance Cup with renewed line-ups and new Audi R8 LMS

The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT ready to take up the challenges of the 2019 Endurance Cup with renewed line-ups and new Audi R8 LMS


The 2019 Blancpain GT Series is served! It’s time to resume racing activity for the world’s GT élite and respecting the tradition, it is the legendary Monza track hosting the season-opener of the Endurance Cup. The Italian track may have changed its official name (now Monza Eni Circuit), it hasn’t lost any of the attributes that have made it one of the world’s top temples of speed. This year too, a very competitive and closely-fought championship can be expected. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is ready to take the challenge, with three units of the 2019 version of the Audi R8 LMS and renewed driver line-ups, one entered in the Pro class and two in the Silver Cup. Carrying the Belgian flag will be two young talents: Dries Vanthoor, already a confirmed star in the Blancpain, and Charles Weerts, who is making his debut at the highest level.

With 49 cars entered in the season-opener, the Endurance Cup is again proving its success, and traffic on track will be again a factor to take into consideration. The competition level is as high as ever, which promises close racing and an exciting show for the fans.

Ahead of the Italian round, Sporting Director Thierry Tassin reflects: “Monza has never been a friendly track for the Audis, and still, last year we were able to give the R8 its first win there. We will try to repeat the feat, although it is going to be very difficult. It will be the first time at Monza with the new version of the R8; we know the car is better than its predecessor in braking zones and acceleration, but also that to achieve that, something has been lost in top speed, as everything in a race car is always a matter of balancing contrasting factors. Monza will be a reality check. We haven’t had much time to test with the brand new cars we are using for the season, but we have done our utmost to be ready. The high number of cars entered is a factor that plays a role and needs to be managed both on the track and in the pits, in qualifying and during the race, especially at first corner! Another key factor could be the weather, and the cool temperatures that are being predicted could help us. Rain would even be better!”

The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is entering three cars in the Endurance Cup, with a double title bid: for overall honours with the car entered in Pro and for the Silver Cup, which has become one of the most interesting challenges in the Blancpain environment, with the other two cars.

In the #2 car, the Pro one, Dries Vanthoor and Spain’s Álex Riberas will welcome a new team mate, Ezequiel Pérez-Companc. The young Argentine has already a solid experience in GT racing and in the Blancpain but is new to the team and to the Audi R8 LMS. “The team, Álex and I will make everything to support him and make his adjustment fast”, confirms Dries Vanthoor. The young Belgian adds: “I don’t really know what to expect from this first round of Monza, but I am sure that the level is going to be extremely high this season and that we will have to fight hard. Last year, we were able to win thanks to a very clean race, despite Monza not being the most favorable track for the Audis. This year, we need to see how the new car will work, and whether the expected gains in corners compensate the supposed slight loss in top speed.”

In the Silver Cup, one of the cars (#10) will be in the hands of Charles Weerts, associated with México’s Ricardo Sánchez, who has good experience in GT3 and LMP3 racing, and Dutchman Rik Breukers, who lived a sensational start of the season, with GT wins at the Dubai and Daytona 24 Hours and at the Sebring 12 Hours. For Weerts, who comes from single-seaters and made his debut in GT3 racing at the FIA GT Nations Cup last December, this will be his Blancpain christening. The 18-year-old is clearly anxious to be at Monza: “I am anxious to be in Monza, excited and also confident. I have worked a lot with the team during the winter in order to be ready and I also have been training a lot physically. I have tested on different tracks, and I must say that in the last tests, at Spa and Monza, I got an excellent feeling with the new aero package of the car. The first time I drove the 2019 car, at the Paul Ricard, it was difficult to understand the behavior of the car, but now it’s OK. Of course, there are still many things to learn, like driving in wet conditions, taking a rolling start, racing in heavy traffic, but all that will come…”

The other car (#17) entered in the Silver Cup is entrusted to a talented trio of new comers to the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, composed of Shae Davies, who has shone in tin-top series in his native Australia, Frenchman Paul Petit, who graduates from LMP racing, and Briton Alex MacDowall, who has an ELMS GT title under his belt on top of FIA WEC and WTCC experience.

The Monza event will span over Saturday and Sunday, with the 3-hour race kicking-off at 3 pm on Sunday.

Blancpain Endurance Cup – Round 1

Monza, Italy, 13-14 April 2019

Timetable (all in local time = CET)

Saturday 13 April 2019
11:30-13:00 Free practice
17:15-18:45 Pre-qualifying session

Sunday 14 April 2019
09:40-10:40 Qualifying
15:00-18:00 Race (3 hrs)

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entries
# 2 Dries Vanthoor (BE) - Álex Riberas (ES) – Ezequiel Pérez-Companc (AR)
#10 Charles Weerts (BE) – Rik Breukers (NL) – Ricardo Sánchez (MX) Silver Cup
#17 Shae Davies (AU) – Paul Petit (FR) – Alex MacDowall (UK) Silver Cup

source: Team WRT
photos: Patrick Hecq Photography

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