It was a weekend of contrasts for Team WRT on the two fronts where it was competing this weekend. At Magny-Cours, where the GT World Challenge Europe was returning after nine years of absence, for the second round of the Sprint Cup, the Audi R8 LMS of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT scored very useful points towards the goal of maintaining the leadership in the different standings of the series. Charles Weerts and Audi Sport driver Dries Vanthoor finished on the podium (P3) of the night race on Saturday and added a P4 in Race 2, while Ryuichiro Tomita and Audi Sport driver Kelvin van der Linde took a 5th and a 6th over the weekend. The Owega brothers, Jusuf and Hamza, rounded the score by finishing twice second in the Silver Cup.

Team Principal Vincent Vosse commented the weekend with these words: “In the GTWCE, we have done a good work, although we could have done better, as proven by another Audi team, but we lacked some performance in qualifying, which then always makes things more difficult in the races. But the team worked well, we had excellent pit stops and we stay ahead in the standings.”

Magny-Cours hosted again a major GT event, nine years after the only visit of the then Blancpain Endurance Series. The French track proved challenging for the Audi R8 LMS of the Belgian squad, although they could regularly visit the top-10 in the various free practice sessions. In Qualifying for Race 1, Charles Weerts was 6th in the Skechers-backed car #32, Ryuichiro Tomita 13th in car #31 and Jusuf Owega 19th in car #33.

Race 1, on Saturday night, started with a number of incidents favored by darkness and the narrow track, but luckily, the cars of the Belgian squad were not involved, with Weerts stabilizing in P3, Tomita in P11 and Jusuf Owega climbing up to P9 (and P2 in the Silver Cup, which he briefly led at the end of the stint). Pit stop were perfectly executed, but after those, Vanthoor found himself sandwiched in-between the Lamborghini of Siedler and the Audi of Vervisch. The fight was intense, but positions did not change, with Vanthoor taking a final P3. Van der Linde could gain a couple of positions finishing 5th, while Hamza Owega crossed the line 10th overall and an excellent 2nd in the Silver Cup.

On Sunday, Vanthoor qualified 9th and van der Linde 8th, with both having some little regret, while Hamza Owega was 5th in the Silver Cup. In the race, before the opening of the pits, Vanthoor climbed up to seventh, with van der Linde in 8th and Hamza Owega charging back to 4th in the Silver Cup. The WRT mechanics did some magic again with all cars gaining positions thanks to three quick but trouble free pitstop. In the second stint, things did not change much, on a track were overtaking is difficult: Weerts eventually crossed the line in 4th, Tomita in 5th and Jusuf Owega in 9th overall, securing third and another podium in the Silver Cup.

Ryuichiro Tomita: “It’s very nice to be in some of the world’s greatest tracks, such as Magny-Cours. We had quite a good pace but also some bad luck, but all in all, we scored good points. We now head to Zandvoort hoping in more good results.”

Charles Weerts: “We always want more but P3 and P4 are not bad results. We scored good points towards the championship and that is important.”

Dries Vanthoor: “Unfortunately, we cannot expect a lot when you start from the back, and today (ahead of Race 2) I didn’t have a good qualifying. Still, we collected valuable points over the weekend, and now we go to Zandvoort, a track we all know very well.”

Jusuf Owega: “It has been two tough races, ended with good results and two podium finishes. We were able to keep consistent pace, although the real key factor was the excellent pit stop, for which we thank the Team WRT crews, which did a fantastic job.”

GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup – Round 2
Magny-Cours, France, 11-13 September 2020

Race 1 results:

1.Stolz-Engel (Mercedes-AMG) 36 laps

2.Grenier-Siedler (Lamborghini Huracán) +11s558

3.Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) +12s148

4.Schöll-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS) +12s536

5.Rougier-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) +13s061

6.Tomita-Van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) +13s423
10.H.Owega-J.Owega (Audi R8 LMS) +33s211 (2nd in Silver Cup)

Race 2 results:

1.Palette-Gachet (Audi R8 LMS) 36 laps

2.Marciello-Boguslavskiy (Mercedes-AMG) + 8s243

3.Stolz-Engel (Mercedes-AMG) + 8s773

4.Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) +10s398

5.Tomita-Van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) +12s487
9. H.Owega-J.Owega (Audi R8 LMS) +34s228 (3rd in Silver Cup)