The weekend at the Nürburgring, for the fourth round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe series, definitely ended in a frustrating way for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. The Belgian squad seemed bound to a 1-2 win in Race 2, but a contact between Ezequiel Pérez-Companc and Charles Weerts ruined the race of both.

The incident cast a shadow on a weekend that provided many satisfaction, from heavy points and fastest lap in Race 1, and pole position, wins in the Pirelli Pit Stop Challenge and in the Silver Cup in Race 2, thanks to a great race of Rik Breukers and Oscar Tunjo. The World Challenge Europe series is on a back-to-back double event, with the Hungaroring round scheduled next weekend.

The weekend started with the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT cars performing well in free practice, as proven by the fastest time of car #1 in the second session. In Qualifying for the first Race, Charles Weerts took 7th on the grid, with Pérez-Companc 10th, and Tom Gamble and Rik Breukers in P16 and 17, respectively.

Race 1, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Eifel, was not very eventful but showed close racing. Weerts and Companc ran together, in 8th and 9th, in the initial phase, with Gamble in P14 and Breukers in P17. The Dutchman and Weerts were the first to pit, followed by Companc and Gamble one lap later (lap 15). After all driver changes, Mies was fourth and Vanthoor 7th, with Dries able to gain two positions and catching his team mate. The two Audi ran together in the final laps, very close to the third but not able to attack him, to eventually take 4th and 5th. The other two cars also gained some positions to finish right off the points, with Oscar Tunjo 11st (3rd in the Silver Cup) and Shae Davies 12nd.

Race 2 on Sunday offered more opportunities, as Dries Vanthoor had taken the pole, with Mies third right behind him on the grid, Tunjo in P11 and Davies in P25. On a much cooler but dry day, Vanthoor and Mies took a perfect start and led since the beginning, with the Belgian managing to pull away slightly to build a 4.5-second advantage by lap 15. On car #10, Tunjo took a tremendous start to lead the Silver Cup straight away, in an excellent P7 overall, with Davies further aback. Pit stops went perfectly, allowing Pérez-Companc and Weerts, separated by 2.6 seconds, to keep control of the race. As the second stint evolved, Weerts was able to catch Companc, but both got under increasing pressure from the Aston that was charging from the back. At the beginning of lap 23, the British car was really threatening and Weerts tried to pass at first corner braking, on the inside. The two Audi had contact and the Aston passed both WRT cars, which had to retire because of the damage sustained. Luckily, Breukers won in style the Silver Cup, taking 6th overall, while Gamble finished 17th overall and 6th in the Silver Cup.

Vincent Vosse: “It could have been a glorious weekend, but it ended in a very frustrating and disappointing way. This kind of incidents is part of racing, we all know that, but to lose what could have been a 1-2 like this, is hard to accept. We’ll have to analyze what happened and talk to the drivers. For the rest, we had a lot of positive things too, with one pole, one fastest lap, the win in the Silver Cup and in the Pirelli Pit Stop Challenge, but of course, this does not mitigate the frustration…”

Dries Vanthoor: “It was a good weekend, in the sense that we were quick all the time and had a good car. P5 in Race 1 was good, as was the pole for today’s race and the race, up to lap 22. Not much to say, up to the next one.”

Christopher Mies:“On Saturday, finishing P4 very close from the podium, from P7 in the grid, was good. Today, we had a very good pace, Dries was faster in the first part of the race, so I let him go, then in the second part of the race there was this unfortunate contact. It happens, but it is a shame as it cost us a 1-2.”

Rik Breukers: “A good weekend for us. We took P3 in Race 1 from P5, and today it was a perfect race despite our position in the grid, we win the class and take P6 overall, thanks also to a very good pit stop, we are very happy.”

Shae Davies: “Not the best weekend for us, there is work to do on all aspects, car and drivers, and there is no much time before next race. We hope things will go better at the Hungaroring.”

Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe – Round 4
Nürburgring, Germany, 29 August-1st September 2019

Race 1 results:

  1. Caldarelli-Mapelli (Lambo Huracán Evo) 31 laps
  2. Engelhart-Bortolotti (Lambo Huracán Evo) + 9s047
  3. Gachet-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) + 9s154
  4. Weerts-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) + 9s657
  5. Companc-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS) +10s246

11. Breukers-Tunjo (Audi R8 LMS) +30s445
12. Gamble-Davies (Audi R8 LMS) +32s073

Race 2 results:

1. Kirchhöfer-Collard (Aston Martin Vantage) 31 laps

2. Gachet-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) + 1s655

3. Caldarelli-Mapelli (Lambo Huracan) + 2s122

4. Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) + 2s914

5. Panis-Hawksworth (Lexus RC-F) +19s207

6. Breukers-Tunjo (Audi R8 LMS) +20s955

17. Davies-Gamble (Audi R8 LMS) +58s158

DNF Mies-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 23 laps (contact)
DNF Vanthoor-Companc (Audi R8 LMS) 22 laps (contact

Photo: Patrick Hecq Photography