TEAM WRT CONQUERS ALL SPRINT CUP TITLES AT BARCELONA
TEAM WRT CONQUERS ALL SPRINT CUP TITLES AT BARCELONA
It was a great weekend that fulfills all its ambitions for Team WRT. At Barcelona, after a final round rich in emotions, the Audi R8 LMS of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT secured all titles in the Sprint Cup of the GT World Challenge Europe: the Teams’ one, the Drivers’ crown, which Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts brought home thanks to two 2nd positions and the Pirelli Pit Stop Challenge.
From Barcelona, an emotional Vincent Vosse could hardly find his words: “It’s a fantastic moment, those Sprint Cup title are really making a lot of good to everybody. It’s great to be winning titles again, and those three achievements are really the result of fantastic team work by everybody, the drivers, the crews, the engineers, absolutely everybody. It has been a difficult weekend here at Barcelona, with a lot of uncertainties and set-back, but we never lost our nerves and everybody did his job to perfection. Eventually, the reward is here and it is well-deserved.”
The Barcelona weekend, a roller-coaster of emotions, will certainly be remembered by all the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT! It started with a big thrill in the paid test session of Thursday, where car #32 suffered an accident and was damaged beyond repair on the spot, which required sending a spare chassis from Belgium and missing Free Practice 1 on Friday. It still qualified 8th (with Charles Weerts) for Race 1, with Ryuichiro Tomita 9th in car #31, while in car #33, Hamza Owega was 7th in the Silver Cup.
Race 1 started on a greasy but dry track, with Weerts taking 5th in the very first laps before stabilizing in P7 and Tomita keeping 10th after a difficult kick-off. Hamza Owega was then in P8 in the Silver Cup. On a track where overtaking is not very easy, positions didn’t change much in a very compact group up to the pit stops. After those, Vanthoor found himself stuck behind Engel’s Mercedes, the most direct rival in the Sprint Cup standings and escorted by van der Linde. Despite all efforts and a safety car period in the very last minutes, positions did not change, with the two Audi R8 LMS crossing the line in P6 and P7, respectively, and Jusuf Owega crossing the line 7th in the Silver Cup.
Race 2 (with van der Linde qualifying 6th, Vanthoor 7th and Jusuf Owega 8th in Silver Cup) followed much the same pattern. Vanthoor ran 4th most of his stint, right behind the direct rival car, with van der Linde in P6 and Jusuf Owega 6th in the Silver Cup. Positions did not change at all in the second stint, with Weerts crossing the line in fourth and Tomita in 6th, while Hamza Owega finished 14th overall and 7th in the Silver Cup. With the double win of the Lambo, the situation in the standings became very closer ahead of the decisive Race 3, with Vanthoor-Weerts having a 3-point margin on Stolz-Engel and 3.5 over Altoè-Costa. All that though changed when both the two main opponents were inflicted a 35-second sanction for pit lane infringements, which totally modified the situation ahead of Race 3, for which car #31 had taken P2 in qualifying, right ahead of car #32, with car #33 sixth in the Silver Cup. The direct opponent now became the Mercedes of Boguslavskiy-Marciello, which was on pole for the decisive race that the Belgian squad certainly faced with some stress.
Marciello took the lead at the start, which saw an accident in the middle of the field and the intervention of the safety-car. After restart, Vanthoor kept P2, without being in a position to attack the leader but with his shoulders protected by van der Linde. Again, the pit stop did not change the order, with Weerts a solid second closing slightly on the leader and Tomita having to fend off the charge of the two Lambos, with Feller passing him only in the closing laps. Luckily, Weerts stayed completely cool securing the title. The Owega brothers conducted their best race of the weekend, finishing 11th overall. It was enough for the German brothers to take the third spot in the final standings of the Silver Cup.
Charles Weerts: “I am really happy and proud of what we have achieved all together. It wasn’t the easiest weekend, but we succeeded, and it is definitely a moment I will remember, as it is my first title. Performance-wise, we were not at the same level of some of our competitors, but the team worked to improve throughout the sessions, and we managed to secure this amazing result. I want to thank every single person in the team, and let’s enjoy the moment.”
Dries Vanthoor: “I couldn’t be happier, especially after a weekend that has not been easy at all. I still remember how we lost everything in the last five minutes in 2017. This time, things went the other way and at end, after qualifying well for Race 3, it was a matter of bringing it home, but I have never been so nervous in my entire life watching Charles’ final stint! A big thank you to everybody in the team, they are absolute legends and it’s a pleasure to work with all of them.”
Kelvin van der Linde: “Congrats to the entire team, it has been a great team result. At personal level, I am a little bit disappointed that we missed the top-3 in the standings, but let’s look forward. We have the Total 24 Hours of Spa right ahead of us and we can still achieve a lot in the Endurance Cup.”
Ryuichiro Tomita: “Thanks to the strength of the team, we were able to score points in every race and finish fourth in the standings, although we did not score enough to be in contention for the title. I want to thank Team WRT and Kelvin for their support during my first season in Europe, I was very happy to be able to debut in the GTWCE with them, and hope we will cooperate again next year.”
GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup – Round 4
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain, 9-11 October 2020
Race 1 results:
1. Costa-Altoè (Lamborghini Huracán) 31 laps
2. Feller-Grenier (Lamborghini Huracán) + 0s107
3. Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Mercedes-AMG) + 0s715
4. Pla-Hites (Mercedes-AMG) + 1s824
5. Stolz-Engel (Marcedes-AMG) + 2s082
6. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) + 2s372
7. Tomita-Van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) + 2s684
15. H.Owega-J.Owega (Audi R8 LMS) +11s296
Race 2 results:
1. Schöll-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS) 32 laps
2. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) + 4s598
3. Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Mercedes-AMG) + 9s990
4. Tomita-Van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) +10s054
5. Rougier-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) +10s276
12. H.Owega-J.Owega (Audi R8 LMS) +26s808
Race 3 results:
1. Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Mercedes-AMG) 32 laps
2. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) + 2s149
3. Feller-Grenier (Lamborghini Huracán) + 4s993
4. Tomita-Van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) + 8s773
5. Altoè-Costa (Lamborghini Huracán) + 9s615
11. H.Owega-J.Owega (Audi R8 LMS) +49s116
PHOTO: SRO MOTORSPORTS GROUP, MICHELE SCUDIERO
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