The Sprint Cup of the Fanatec GT World Cup Europe powered by AWS started with an excellent weekend for Team WRT at Magny-Cours. Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts were almost dominant throughout the entire weekend and brought home a superb win in Saturday’s night race after starting from the pole with Weerts. In Race 2, they conquered another podium finish (2nd) after a spectacular move from Weerts in the last lap.

It was a weekend of more mixed fortunes for Frank Bird-Ryuichiro Tomita and Benjamin Goethe-Kelvin van der Linde, but the former managed to score one point and a P4 in the Silver Cup in Race 2.

Team Principal Vincent Vosse was a happy man on Sunday evening: “We had a very good weekend with car #32 and it was the perfect way to start the Sprint Cup season. The team did an excellent job, and that last lap move from Charles in Race 2 was really spectacular. Car #32 really had a perfect weekend! It was a little bit more difficult for the other two cars, with some little issues and mistakes here and there, but the potential showed, on a track were overtaking is difficult, is promising. Most importantly, we lead the rankings in the Sprint Cup and are very close to the top in the GTWCE overall standings.”

The Belgian Audi R8 LMS were competitive straight away from free practice, with car #32 leaving a very strong impression, as it topped the rankings in free practice, pre-qualifying and qualifying, with Charles Weerts taking the pole position. Car #31 qualified in P9 with Frank Bird, while Benjamin Goethe brought car #30 to P19 in the grid.

Saturday’s night race had virtually no story for car #32, as Charles Weerts took an excellent start and kept the lead throughout his stint. The strategy to delay the pit stop as much as possible proved effective to increase the gap and Dries Vanthoor just had to control things and finish the excellent job. Frank Bird was in the top 10 most of his stint but shortly before mid-race the young Brit went off-track and it took some time to rescue his car from the gravel trap and clean it at the pits. The incident cost two laps, with Ryuichiro Tomita eventually taking P24 but lapping as quick as the leaders. Car #31 narrowly missed the points, finishing 11th after a consistent race in the top 20. Benjamin Goethe and Kelvin van der Linde had a good pace but could not extricate themselves from the traffic.

On Sunday, on a warm Spring day, Dries Vanthoor qualified car #32 in P4, with car #31 and #30 sharing ninth row on the grid.

In the initial laps of Race 2, Vanthoor kept P4, which became P3 after the retirement of one of the cars ahead, while van der Linde and Tomita climbed back to 12th and 15th, respectively. The team was on a late pit stop strategy to avoid traffic, with car #32 pitting among the very last, in lap 22. Charles Weerts was back in the race in P3, just a couple of seconds before a full-course yellow period, unfortunately caused by an off-track of Benjamin Goethe. Car #30 ended its race against the barriers. Later on, the race was marked by another safety-car period, which left only a couple of laps of real racing. Enough for Charles Weerts to perform a perfect overtake on Boguslavskiy few corners from the flag and steal a final P2. Frank Bird also gained positions in the closing moments, securing 4th in the Silver Cup and important points.

Charles Weerts: “Overall, it was a very good weekend for us. I am very happy about the pole position, it was one of my objectives this weekend, then P1 and P2 in the races were excellent results for us and the team. We’ll see how things go in the next races, but it is a great start of the season.”

Dries Vanthoor: “We got a lot of points thanks to P1 and P2, I don’t think we could have had a better start of the season, as we fight to retain the titles. Today, to be honest, it was a little bit more difficult, there was a lot of wind, which was upsetting, but we kept pushing and Charles did an amazing job to get P2.”

Frank Bird: “A positive weekend overall, we showed good pace in the Silver Cup and overall as well. In Race 1, it was my mistake, but we recovered well today and we showed good potential.”

Benjamin Goethe: “I’m very disappointed with the crash in Race 2, it was my mistake and I am sorry for the team, who did a fantastic job. On the positive side, we progressed well throughout the weekend, finding things to improve the car.”

GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup – Round 1
Magny-Cours, France – 7-9 May 2021

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

2. Feller-Costa (Lamborghini Huracan) + 6s468
3. Rougier-Fontana (Lamborghini Huracan) +19s229
4. Pérez Companc-Breukers (Mercedes AMG) +28s157
5. Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Mercedes AMG) +29s905
11. Goethe-van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) +42s864
24. Bird-Tomita (Audi R8 LMS) + 2 laps

Race 2 Result
1. Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) 33 laps
2. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) + 3s051
3. Boguslavskiy-Mariello (Mercedes AMG) + 4s490
4. Wilkinson-Barnicoat (Aston Martin Vantage) + 5s267
5. Tereschenko-Pla (Mercedes AMG) + 5s465
10. Bird-Tomita (Audi R8 LMS) + 7s763
DNF Goethe-van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) 21 laps (Off-track)

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10 months ago

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