The Endurance Cup of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS is back this weekend for the second round of the 2021 season and one of its most iconic races: the Paul Ricard 1000 Kms. The race in Southern France is the second-longest in the calendar after the Total 24 Hours of Spa and has become a prestigious fixture in the GT3 racing calendar.

Team WRT is heading to Le Castellet, with its three Audi R8 LMS entry, determined to fight for a good result and keep the lead in the GTWCE Teams’ overall standings.

The top position in the ranking (and the current second in the Drivers’ standings held by Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts) result from the excellent start of the season in the Sprint Cup, while the Endurance Cup season-opener at Monza left a taste of disappointment in the Belgian squad.

Team Principal Vincent Vosse comments: “At Monza we proved competitive, but for different reasons, did not get the results we deserved with the Pro car, while both Silver Cup cars finished in the top-4. We need to make up the points gap, and that is our objective at Paul Ricard, which has always been a challenging track for us but where we have also done well in the recent past. We need to have a nice, clean race and take home heavy points.”

The Circuit Paul Ricard, with its long straights, always poses a balance challenge to all teams and drivers and is not the most favourable to the Audi R8 LMS, but Team WRT has proven it can do well there. Contested on Saturday’s eve, the race has a format (almost 6 hours-long in normal conditions, half of it in full darkness) that provides all the ingredients and variables of endurance racing. It also attracts a huge entry, which this year reaches 47 cars.

There are no novelties in Team WRT’s line-up, with Kelvin van der Linde-Dries Vanthoor-Charles Weerts at the wheel of car #32, and cars #30 (Benjamin Goethe-Stuart Hall-James Pull) and #31 (Frank Bird-Valdemar Eriksen-Ryuichiro Tomita) fighting for top honours in the Silver Cup.

As always this season in the Endurance Cup, the ‘virtual’ Fanatec Esports Pro GT Series will take place prior to the real race, with Kelvin van der Linde and Ryuichiro Tomita representing Team WRT. Before that, there will be time for celebrations (with all due distancing and limited attendance), as Thursday night will take place the 2020 GTWCE Awards Ceremony that could not be organized end of last year. Team WRT will receive the Teams’ overall and Sprint Cup trophies, and Dries Vanthoor the Drivers’ Sprint Cup awards, also on behalf of Charles Weerts, who will only arrive at Paul Ricard on Friday noon, as he will be passing a university exam on Friday

morning. Also awarded will be Gil Botelho and Alexandre Riquier, the two Team WRT crew members that have won the Pit Stop Challenge last season.

Dries Vanthoor: “Always nice to go to the Paul Ricard. We were competitive there last year and hope we will be again this year. We have some points to catch back after Monza, so the objective is to do a good race and score a maximum of points to be back in the title race of the Endurance Cup.”

Charles Weerts: Paul Ricard is a nice track and a nice venue, I like it very much. It should be a good one for us, we have been competitive so far, I hope we can keep the momentum.”

Kelvin van der Linde: “I look forward to this one, a night race is always a special one. I hope to be on the podium of the Ricard 1000, it would be my first one, and hopefully on the highest spot. We can aim at that, as we have a strong car and a strong package.”

Benjamin Goethe: “I am exciting at the upcoming race at Ricard, it’s a track that suits our car, and if we can keep the pace that we had in Monza, it should be a good weekend for us.”

Frank Bird: “I’m buzzing to get back going again this weekend at Paul Ricard. We had a solid start in Monza in the first Endurance race. Hopefully, we can build on what we have learned and get a great result.”

James Pull: “I look very much forward to coming back to the race track, after a successful first weekend at Monza. It felt really good, we worked well together, let’s carry on with that partnership and try to get a good result.”

Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS - Endurance Cup Round 2
Circuit Paul Ricard 1000 km, France, 28-30 May 2021

Timetable (CET)

Friday 28 May 2021
09:00-10:00 Bronze test
15:00-16:30 Free Practice
20:40-22:10 Pre-qualifying

Saturday 29 May 2021
10:45-11:45 Qualifying
13:05-14:35 Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series (Qualifying + race)
18:00-24:00 Race (1000 kms)

Team WRT entries (Audi R8 LMS)
#30 Benjamin Goethe (DE) – Stuart Hall (GB) – James Pull (GB) Silver
#31 Frank Bird (GB) – Valdemar Eriksen (DK) - Ryuichiro Tomita (JP) Silver
#32 Kelvin van der Linde (ZA) – Dries Vanthoor (BE) – Charles Weerts (BE) Pro

PHOTO: Michele Scudiero

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10 months ago

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