What an incredible start of the season and of its European Le Mans Series campaign for ORLEN Team WRT! After a stunning maiden win outright at the season-opener in Barcelona, the Belgian squad has imposed again its Oreca 07 Gibson in the second round at the Red Bull Ring. Louis Delétraz, Robert Kubica and Yifei Ye again mastered all events in a race full of emotions.

The contrasting note came from Oschersleben, where Team WRT was involved in the first round of the ADAC GT Masters. A number of factors prevented the Audi R8 LMS driven by Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts to bring home the results that the potential shown by the package should have yielded.

Team Principal Vincent Vosse commented: “To conquer a second consecutive victory in the ELMS, in our first campaign, is simply great. We always have the ambition and determination to win, we work towards that goal, but we know how difficult it is and where we stand compared to competition. Today we won again, and that always means that you have done a good job, but we still have little things to improve here and there. What is sure is that the drivers and the entire team have been fantastic, the car was good and we took the right decisions during the race... It was more difficult for our GT team at Oschersleben. Although we showed some good potential, we did not score good points. Sometimes you have contrasting weekends...”

ELMS: Another weekend to remember

On the beautiful Red Bull Ring, in the Styrian Alps, ORLEN Team WRT was aiming at confirming the excellent start of the season, but was certainly not thinking in a second success... Still, things started well for the squad, with P5 in free practice 1, P10 in Free practice 2 and an excellent P5 in qualifying. That proved that the car was working well and it showed in the 4-hour race, although the initial phases were not easy. On a sunny day, Yifei Ye was at the wheel at the start and had to concede a couple of positions in the agitated action in the first corners. First lap, though, brought incidents and the safety car. At the restart, the Chinese driver was very effective, overtaking a few cars to climb positions from P9 up to P4 and then P2 after a first pit stop only for refuelling. Robert Kubica took over in lap 64, shortly before a severe storm brought chaos to the track, with the safety car back in action and all cars pitting for wet tyres. A longer stop by the leading car put the ORLEN Team WRT machine in the lead and from them the duel with the G-Force car was fierce, with the top position being exchanged several times. Louis Delétraz took the wheel in lap 120 and conducted the final duel, completing the successful and winning overtake in impeccable manner.

Louis Delétraz: “It’s amazing to have a second victory, the team and my teammates have done a terrific job. It was a tough race, especially for Robert who had to cope with the rain when it was heaviest. The rain kept coming and going also for me, I had to stay always on intermediate tyres, for longer than I would have wanted, but I could pass Colapinto and finish the job. Two out of two is great and good for the championship.”

Robert Kubica: “A second win is incredible, I think nobody could have imagined that. It was not an easy Sunday, with terrible conditions, but we took the good decisions at the right moment and it paid off. It’s difficult to have everything perfect, and we didn’t, but in the crucial moments we did the right thing. Now comes the Paul Ricard, let’s focus on that, continue to improve, but before that, I think we deserve to enjoy the moment and some celebration, because, mentally, it has been an exhausting weekend for everybody...”

Yifei Ye: “I’m extremely happy about what we achieved today, conditions were not easy today. It was the first time I was starting the race, against more expert drivers, lost a couple of positions, but kept calm and tried to be safe, but could climb back many positions. We got a little bit stuck in the first pit stop and then the very chaotic situation because of the rain, when Robert was at the wheel. The team took all the good decisions and my teammates did a very good job, and the result is just great!”.

European Le Mans Series – Round 2
Red Bull Ring 4 Hours, 14-16 May 2021

Race Result
1. Delétraz-Kubica-Ye (Oreca 07 Gibson) 149 laps

2. Rusinov-Colapinto-De Vries (Oreca 07 Gibson) + 21s155
3. Falb-Andrade-Merhi (Aurus 01 Gibson) +1 lap
4. Yoluc-Sargeant-Eastwood (Oreca 071 Gibson) +1 lap
5. J.Lahaye-M.lahaye-Hériau (Oreca 07 Gibson) + 1 lap

ADAC GT MASTERS: Just out of the top-10…

The 2021 ADAC GT Masters kicked off at the Oschersleben Arena, again with a very high-profile field of 27 cars, but there was little luck for Team WRT, who this years is present with a single Audi R8 LMS entry for Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts. On a track that has never been the friendliest to the Audi, the weekend started promisingly for the Belgian squad. Qualifying 1, though, was disappointing, with Charles Weerts not in a position to do better than 14thafter a red flag hampered him (and some other competitors) to achieve their quickest laps. In Race 1, car #32 paid the toll to the mid-grid position, on a track where overtaking is challenging, and despite gaining some positions, ended in P11.

Sunday was characterized by heavy rain. Dries Vanthoor qualified third and Race 2 started behind the safety car amid huge sprays of water. Vanthoor kept his position at the start, but two race incidents in first lap prompted the safety car to intervene again and one more time after that. Vanthoor arrived to the pit stop period in P4, with the team betting for staying on wet tires. This allowed Charles Weerts to be competitive in the initial laps of his stint, staying in the top-5, regularly being the quickest on track, but the change of weather conditions, with the track drying, completely changed the physiognomy of the race in the closing stage, with Weerts dropping to another final P11.

Dries Vanthoor: “It was a rather frustrating and unlucky weekend, I must say. We had good potential, but a red flag at the wrong moment ruined Charles’ qualifying for Race 1. We lost quite a few spots there, and when you start in the middle of the grid, the race is just like sitting in a train… It was better for me in qualifying 2, but our tyre choice was not the correct one and we also were held-off by the team next to us in the pits. The race was gone anyway… Now we need to work to make sure that the good potential we have is converted in good results.”

ADAC GT Masters - Round 1
Oschersleben Arena, 14-16 May 2021

Race 1 Result
1. Marciello-Buhk (Mercedes AMG) 41 laps
2. Bortolotti-Costa (Lamborghini Huracan) + 2s604
3. Feller-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) +10s736
4. Yelloly-Krohn 5BMW M6) +11s978
5. Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) +11s978
11. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) +15s651

ADAC GT Masters - Round 1
Oschersleben Arena, 14-16 May 2021

Race 2 Result
1.Ammermüller-Jaminet (Porsche 911R) 35 laps
2. Yelloly-Krohn (BMW M6) +22s640
3. Hackländer-Wishofer (Porsche 911 R) +29s604
4. Walilko-Gounon (Mercedes AMG) +33s069
5. Feller-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) +33s389
12. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) +1m27s260

PHOTO: Sergey Savrasov, ADAC GT