It wasn’t the way the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT wanted to finish the GT World Challenge Europe season. The Audi R8 LMS struggled at Hungaroring, both on wet and on dry track, and the Belgian squad could only score a handful of points, with car #2 of Charles Weerts and Christopher Mies.

Now the focus is on the final round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Barcelona, in three weeks, hoping to have a positive wrap-up of the European season.

The weekend started promisingly for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT cars, with both #1 and #2 being among the front-runners. Unfortunately, qualifying for Race 1 would not deliver the sought results, as it proved difficult to find the right pace and also a clear lap in the traffic. The best-qualified car was #17, thanks to a great P13 by Tom Gamble, while Charles Weerts was 15th in car #2, Oscar Tunjo 17th in car #10 and Ezequiel Pérez-Companc only 22nd in car #1.

Race 1 on Saturday started, behind the safety-car, on a track soaked by rain. In difficult conditions and poor visibility, Gamble was faultless and climbed up to 11st before the pit stop window opened, with Tunjo in P14 ahead of Weerts, and Pérez-Companc maintaining P22. The Brit and the Argentine were on a late pit stop strategy, which allowed them to stop while in the top-5. Unfortunately, the pit lane was very crowded at the moment of quitting the stand and both #1 and #17 cars were inflicted a drive-through for unsafe release. Vanthoor and Davies served those when they were running 13rd and 20th respectively, with the Belgian crossing the line in P17, right behind Breukers. The best-placed car of the team was #2, with Mies having a solid stint to take P8 under the flag.

Race 2 presented better prospects, as Vanthoor had qualified 3rd and Mies 8th, with Breukers starting from P22 and Davies from P27. Still, it wasn’t to be. Vanthoor had a good start, but was engulfed among surrounding cars at first corner, and passed 5th at first lap. Shortly after, while battling with a Porsche and a Mercedes, he had a contact and went off-track, losing many positions, down to 25th. From there on, the race of car #1 was just trying to recover, with Pérez-Companc crossing the line in P16. Weerts and Mies had a more linear race, with the Belgian running 7th in the first part, a position that the German kept in his stint up to the finish. Breukers and Tunjo crossed the line in P14 and Gamble-Davies in P18. 

A more positive note came from the Nürburgring, where French trio François Perrodo - Mathieu Vaxivière - Emmanuel Collard, at the wheel of a Team WRT-prepared Audi R8 LMS, took an excellent 6th position in the VLN 4-hour race on the Nordschleife, which was their second outing outing in the famous German endurance series that takes place exclusively on the mythical old track in the Eifel.

Vincent Vosse: “It was not an easy weekend, we didn’t have the performance, and although cars #1 and #2 qualified decently for Race 2, only car #2 finished in the points both races. We could have done a little bit better, but it would have not change the fact that performance wasn’t there. Now we have to focus in trying to finish well the European season at Barcelona. It has been a frustrating season in the Blancpain, for sure, and I want to speak with my guys and analyze what went wrong and what we could improve. Maybe we have to rethink our approach…”

Dries Vanthoor: “Not a good weekend for sure. We had trouble in setting up the car, as seen in qualifying 1. In Race 1, we could only come back a bit. In Race 2, I didn’t have the best of gateways and then fighting with the Porsche and a Mercedes, there was some contact and I thought I had a puncture and we lost many positions. The race was gone, and it’s a bad end to a difficult season.”

Charles Weerts: “Today it was a shame we couldn’t do better than 7th, I think we had the potential to beat some of our rivals ahead, but on this track it is impossible to overtake. We struggled a bit with the balance during the entire weekend. Eventually, it wasn’t a bad maiden season for me, I showed some good things, and finish 6th in the standings, close to the top-5, which was my initial objective.”

Oscar Tunjo: “It was a tough weekend, we struggled a lot on the wet and not only. It’s frustrating to finish the season like this, especially after the silver Cup win at the Nürburgring. All in all, it was a good season, although three accidents prevented us to do better in the championship. I want to thank the team for all the good work and hope to be back.”

Shae Davies: “It was a tough weekend, we simply couldn’t find the right pace, I don’t know if it was track-related, but I see it was the case for all Audi cars. It has been a tough season, especially having to learn the car and the tracks, but I enjoyed the experience.”

Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe – Round 5
Hungaroring, Hungary, 6-8 September 2019

Race 1 results:

1 Marciello-Abril (Mercedes AMG) 29 laps

2 Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) + 2s352

3 Engelhart-Bortolotti (Lambo Huracán Evo) + 3s330

4 K. Van der Linde-Schmid (Audi R8 LMS) + 9s315

5 Mapelli-Caldarelli (Lambo Huracan Evo) + 9s921

Weerts-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) +30s405

    16 Tunjo-Breukers (Audi R8 LMS) +1m04s164

    17 Companc-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS) +1m05s330

      20 Gamble-Davies (Audi R8 LMS) +1m28s717

      Race 2 results:

      1 Marciello-Abril (Mercedes AMG) 33 laps

      2 Bortolotti-Engelhart (Lamborghini Huracan Evo) +16s754

      3 Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) +17s638

      4 Mapelli-Caldarelli (Lambo Huracán Evo) +18s503

      5 Boguslaviskiy-Fraga (Mercedes AMG) +36s557

        7 Weerts-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) +38s788

        14 Tunjo-Breukers (Audi R8 LMS) +58s096

        16 Companc-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS) +59s333

        18 Gamble-Davies (Audi R8 LMS) +1m10s537

        Photo: Patrick Hecq Photography