The “Big one” is coming ! Like every year, the attention of the GT racing circles and fans in this final week of July is all for the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The event officially starts today with the Bronze test.

It is “the GT race” and even more so for Team WRT, as it is also the home race for the Belgian squad, which this year is celebrating its 10th anniversary and its 10th participation to the race.

Four Audi R8 LMS will be fielded and followed by WRT: as customary, two will sport the colours of Audi Sport Team WRT and two will be under the banner of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT.

The relationship between Team WRT and the Total 24 Hours of Spa is not only close but also rich in high moments: in the nine editions contested so far, the squad has won twice (in 2011 and 2014) and been on the podium on four other occasions. The objective this year will be to keep up with this tradition of success and to relaunch a 2019 Blancpain GT Series campaign that has proved challenging and also unlucky so far. Still, the recent positive results, including a win at Misano and a podium finish at Zandvoort, demonstrate that the team has been able to bounce back.

At Spa, one of the two Audi Sport Team WRT cars will be entrusted to Robin Frijns, René Rast and Nico Müller, a trio of DTM and GT3 Audi drivers that needs no presentation. The other will combine youth and speed with Team WRT regulars Dries Vanthoorand Álex Riberas associated with Frank Stippler.

These two cars will have Thierry Tassin as Sporting Director, who ahead of the big event comments: “I expect a race closer than ever. As usual, there will be at least 20 cars in fight for victory, but the gaps will be minimal. The level of competition is such that overtaking is becoming more and more difficult, even in traffic with cars that are not among the front-runners. The other factor that will play a role this year is the extreme temperatures, especially in the days ahead of the race. Even if the forecasts point to a more normal situation during the weekend, the track will still be extremely hot from the previous days, as it needs time to cool down. This will have an impact on cars, tyres and men.”

Among the two Belgian Audi Club Team WRT cars, one is entrusted to Charles Weerts, at his debut in the race, Rik Breukers and Norman Nato, the latest recruit of WRT. The other will aim at Silver Cup honours in the hands of Shae Davies, Paul Petit and Alex MacDowall, who have been regularly visiting the top-5 in their category in recent outings.

Pierre Dieudonné, who will follow these two cars as Sporting Director, confirms the general feeling: “More than ever, this will be a year where being perfect will be mandatory if one wants to fight for the win. Every second will matter, and therefore every small mistake will have an impact. And this will be true as from qualifying on Thursday and Friday, two days that will be very hot. Even if it is a 24-hour race, the positions on the grid will play a role, especially if we have safety-car periods early in the race, which is often the case with so many cars on track. If we compare ourselves to an orchestra, we will have to perform a perfect symphony, with everybody perfectly executing their score.”

Interesting to note, Sporting Directors Tassin and Dieudonné and Team Principal Vincent Vosse sum up 8 wins at Spa as drivers, which certainly make Team WRT’s management team an acknowledgeable one on the subject!

Vincent Vosse (Team Principal): “Spa is obviously the biggest and most important race of the season, and we go there fully prepared and with the greatest motivation. We have basically finished on the podium every year except for the very first and the last two and we have always been leading the race at some point, even in 2017 and 2018. This year there will again be more than twenty potential winners and we’ll fight hard to be in the very top positions, although we are not the top favourites. Many things can happen, and do happen, in a 24-hour race, so any prediction is difficult to make. In any case, we’ll go for it !”

Dries Vanthoor: “It’s a big race, it is so for Audi, it is for WRT, for which it is home race, and it is for me too, of course! I have raced it three times so far, always on the forefront, but the race hasn’t been so nice to me so far in terms of results. I hope it will be different this time and that we will have a little bit of luck on our side. We have a reliable car, a strong line-up and a great team, so we should be in a position to aim for a very good result, and hopefully, a win.”

Charles Weerts: “It is going to be a big and very special moment for me to contest my first Total 24 Hours of Spa and I am really excited at the prospect. I know it is not going to be easy, as this will be my first 24 Hours race, the first time I will drive at night and also my first real race at Spa! I have prepared as much as I could and done quite some testing on the track, but I believe taking the Raidillon flat-out at 3 in the morning and with traffic around will be quite something! I have followed also a special physical preparation programme aimed at improving endurance and fast recovery, and also a special diet. It also happens to be home race, so there will be quite some family and friends coming, but I’ll try to keep pressure as low as possible. The objective is to finish the race and have minimum trouble; if that happens, the result shouldn’t be too bad, as we have a very good package and we have done our homework…”

Blancpain Endurance Cup – Round 4
Total 24 Hours of Spa, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – 23-28 July 2019

Timetable (all in local time = CET)

Tuesday 23rd July 2019
14:55 - 17:55 Bronze Test

Wednesday 24th July 2019
18:00 - 22:00 Street Parade

Thursday 25th July 2019
11:10 - 12:40 Free Practice
16:15 - 17:15 Pre-qualifying
20:00 - 21:20 Qualifying
21:40 - 23:10 Night Practice

Friday 26th July 2019
18:15 - 18:45 Warm-up
19:05 - 19:35 Super Pole

Saturday 27th July 2019
16:30 Start of Total 24 Hours of Spa

Sunday 28th July 2019
16:30 Finish of Total 24 Hours of Spa

Audi Sport Team WRT entries
#1 Robin Frijns (NL) – Nico Müller (CH) – René Rast (DE)

#2 Dries Vanthoor (BE) - Frank Stippler (DE) – Álex Riberas (ES)

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entries
#10 Charles Weerts (BE) – Rik Breukers (NL) – Norman Nato (FR) 

#17 Shae Davies (AU) – Paul Petit (FR) – Alex MacDowall (UK) Silver Cup

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It’s all about the details!👌🏻 Name this track...👇🏻 ⠀ #WRT #AudiSport #DTM #WeLoveDTM #GTunited2020 #FeelTheRoar