The string of successes, in this restart of the 2020 racing season, continues for Team WRT. After wins in the season-opening rounds of the GTWCE Endurance Cup and ADAC GT Masters, the Belgian squad has managed to win also at the first event of the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup, and not once but twice! The #32 Audi R8 LMS backed by Skechers conquered two of the three races scheduled at Misano, under the warm sun of the Adriatic. Audi Sport driver Dries Vanthoor and defending youngest race winner in the series Charles Weerts, imposed themselves twice (in Races 1 and 3), with Audi Sport driver Kelvin van der Linde and Ryuichiro Tomita adding one more podium finish and more heavy points, while Hamza and Jusuf Owega had an excellent debut in the Silver Cup, netting two podium finishes.

“It’s just fantastic, what more could we ask for?”, wondered a delighted Vincent Vosse, Team Principal of WRT, almost short of words: “When things go well, generally, there is little to say. Today I just want to praise the entire team, not only the drivers but all the crews, as they did a wonderful job, and pit stops were crucial to get the results we got here at Misano; It is an unbelievable start of the season, but we need to stay humble and focused.”

The weekend started with good signs and feedback, with all three cars making systematically the top-10 throughout the free practice sessions and pre-qualifying, and the Audi R8 LMS proving competitive.

On Saturday, for the late evening Race 1, Charles Weerts qualified fourth, Ryuichiro Tomita fifth and Jusuf Owega 4th in the Silver Cup (13th overall). The first two kept their position during the initial dozen of laps, then both climbed one position while Jusuf Owega ran as high as 10th before the window for driver change opened. Cars #31 and #32 were called to pits in lap 19, car #33 one lap later. In the second part of the race, Dries Vanthoor jumped to a close second right ahead of Kelvin van der Linde, while Hamza Owega was a solid third in the Silver Cup before hitting a spinning Mercedes stranded in the middle of a corner. The front of the car sustained heavy damage, which required lengthy repairs in the pits, but P3 in the Silver Cup was eventually retained. A late safety-car period would change the face of the race, with both Vanthoor and van der Linde seizing their chance and passing the Bentley until then in the lead to conquer a great 1-2.

On Sunday, on a very hot afternoon, Race 2 was relatively uneventful for Team WRT cars. Van der Linde, who qualified second, kept the position during his stint but saw all his efforts

to pass the leader unsuccessful. Tomita took over with the same determination and great fighting spirit, but his efforts were also vane and he incurred in an off-track that cost him a few positions. He climbed back to a final 7th. Car #32, which qualified 5th, ran 4th basically throughout the entire race, while car #33 of the Owega brothers made it to the top-10, taking an excellent P2 in the Silver Cup.

Race 3 was truly won by the entire team, thanks to perfect and timely pit stops. Car #32 was fourth in the grid, with Charles Weerts gaining one position during his stint. A perfect call for the pit stop allowed Dries Vanthoor to jump in P1, a position that he kept up to the finishing line. Car #31, starting from P9, also gained positions thanks to the pit stop to finish an excellent 5th, while Hamza and Jusuf Owega brothers put on again a very solid race from P12 on the grid, to finish 10th and bring home another podium (2nd) in the Silver Cup.

Driver Quotes

Charles Weerts: “The weekend went really well, with two wins and one fourth, we need to thank very much our mechanics, which have done an amazing job. The car was also very good and now we should keep the momentum in the championship.”

Dries Vanthoor: “I am very happy with how the things went, it is very good for the championship. Everybody did a good job, Charles has progressed a lot, but what the guys did today in the pit stops is simply insane, they are real legends, they work so hard and never stop training. It’s unbelievable!”

Ryuichiro Tomita: “It has been a great first weekend of racing in Europe for me and I thank everybody at Team WRT for the support. Everybody has been very helpful. Clearly, I did some mistakes, especially in Race 2 and Qualifying 3, but I also learnt a lot and showed some good things. I am extremely motivated to continue improving.”

Hamza Owega: “It was a real pity that I hit the car stopped in the middle of the track in Race 1, I simply could not see it because of the position and the blinding light. Still, we take good points and two great podiums, so it’s a good weekend after all.”

GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup – Round 1
Misano Adriatico, Italy, 7-9 August 2020

Race 1 results:

1. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 35 laps

2. Tomita-van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) +0s871

3. Gounon-Panciatici (Bentley Continental) +4s366

4. Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) +5s242

5. Rougier-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) +5s589

18. H.Owega-J.Owega (Audi R8 LMS) +10 laps (3rd in Silver)

Race 2 results:

1. Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Mercedes AMG) 36 laps

2. Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) + 0s375

3. Rougier-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) + 0s981

4. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) + 1s258

5. Altoè-Costa (Lambo Huracan + 2s412

7. Tomita-van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) + 4s286

10. H.Owega-J.Owega (Audi R8 LMS) +13s345 (2nd in Silver)

Race 3 results:

1. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 36 laps

2. Rougier-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) + 0s712

3. Mosca-Drudi (Audi R8 LMS) + 1s342

4. Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) + 2s710

5. Tomita-van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) + 3s071

12. H.Owega-J.Owega (Audi R8 LMS) +13s345 (3rd in Silver)


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10 months ago

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