Mission achieved for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Southern France: the Belgian squad brings home the overall Teams’ title of the GT World Challenge Europe, which adds to the Teams’ and Drivers’ crowns already secured in the Sprint Cup of the GTWCE, and is the 40th title conquered by the squad in its eleven years of existence.

The 1000 kms race that concluded the Endurance Cup of the GTWCE saw the three Audi R8 LMS of the Belgian squad take excellent results, with a close 4th and 5th overall and a P4 in the Silver Cup, with podium finishes eluding them by a handful of seconds. With a little bit more luck in the very animated opening laps, things could have been better. Still, it was a brilliant team performance, which also yields runner-up honours for Charles Weerts and Audi Sport driver Dries Vanthoor in the overall Drivers GTWCE standings and fourth spot for the other pair of Audi Sport driver Mirko Bortolotti and Kelvin van der Linde, in the Drivers’ competition of the Endurance Cup.

Wrapping-up the weekend and the season, Team Principal Vincent Vosse commented: “It’s great to take another title, the third in the GTWCE this year, and the overall Teams one, which is probably the most meaningful as it rewards the work done by teams over the entire season. I am proud of the achievement and even more so, by the excellent work done by the entire team and all drivers, which has been outstanding. Here too, we have performed extremely well, ahead of all other Audi teams, it has been a tough race, always flat-out. It’s a pity that there were these first lap incidents, which haven’t been sanctioned at all, because we could have obtained a little bit more, but that does not change my assessment. Clearly, over the entire season, we pay the points not gained at Spa, but we cannot change that. I just want to say a last word to thank and congratulate the entire SRO team for their efforts this year and for allowing the season to happen in the well-known difficult conditions of 2020”.

The weekend in France started with good feedback about the competitiveness of the Audi R8 LMS on this always difficult track (and car #31 posting the 10th-fastest lap) and things worked even better in pre-qualifying, with car #32 in P4, car #31 in P3 and car #33 in P7 (and fastest in Silver Cup). Qualifying broadly confirmed the good form, with the #32 Skechers-livered car securing second row, the #31 in Bio-Circle colours taking P11 and car #33 P24, sixth among Silver Cup contenders.

The race kicked-off in dry although fresh conditions (although some sprays of rain will occur later) and inevitably, given the 40-car grid, lived a very heated passing through corners 1 and 2, with many little contacts and cars cutting over the kerbs. Unfortunately, Christopher Mies in car #32, was one of those pushed off-track in an impressive 360° spin, luckily without any other damage than losing positions. In lap 1, the German was 19th and started a difficult recovery in the traffic, with Rolf Ineichen in an excellent P13 that he kept for a while, before dropping aback in the intense traffic. Benjamin Goethe also started to climb up through the field from P27 in first lap.

The race developed smoothly for the three Belgian Audi Club Team WRT cars. By mid race, shortly before the pit stop marking the half-second stint mark, Charles Weerts was a close 4th, with Kelvin van der Linde in P7 and Stuart Hall an excellent 15th, second in the Silver Cup.

In the final stint, after all pit stops (lap 160), Dries Vanthoor was fourth only 16 seconds behind the leader and right ahead of Mirko Bortolotti, with Rik Breukers fourth in the Silver Cup. The three charged hard to try to gain positions, but despite reducing considerably their gaps, the situation did not change.

Mirko Bortolotti: “We had a tough race on the #31 car but we managed to finish fifth and with this result, we end up in the top-5 of the Endurance Cup. I am glad we could contribute to the teams’ title win by Team WRT.”

Charles Weerts: “We had a good qualifying and a strong race, everybody did a good job and the car was very good, so we can be happy. It’s just a pity that we suffered this contact at the beginning, we would have finished on the podium and maybe fight for the Drivers’ overall title, but even so it has been a good last race and a good season.”

Dries Vanthoor: “We had a difficult start, with Chris being hit, but then he came back strongly and the car had a great pace. In my stint, I gave it everything to try to get into the podium but we just missed it out by a little.”

Benjamin Goethe: “I am quite happy with our race and my performance. It was looking good for a podium finish in the Silver Cup but then some bad weather set us aback. P4 is not a bad result, it’s just a pity that we missed the podium for so little. It has been a tough but good season, I learnt a lot and want to thank Team WRT for all their efforts.”

Rik Breukers: “We had a very good start of the race, with Benji and Stuart doing a great job, then we lost a little bit of time, also in one of the pit stops, but we still could fight for third. I pushed very hard, and in the last half-hour, after the team asked me to change some of the settings, we had a really good pace, but it wasn’t enough. Still, P4 is a good result, given how close the race has been.”

GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – Round 4
Circuit Paul Ricard 1000 kms, France, 14-15 November 2020

Race results:

  1. Pier Guidi-Ledogar-Blomqvist (Ferrari 488) 179 laps
  2. Campbell-Pilet-Jaminet (Porsche 911 R) + 1s690
  3. Lind-Mapelli-Caldarelli (Lambo Huracán) + 9s001
  4. Mies-Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) +14s432
  5. Bortolotti-Ineichen-van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) +42s236

19. Breukers-Goethe-Hall (Audi R8 LMS) + 1 lap

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