The special relationship between Team WRT and the track of Misano, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, got confirmed beyond expectation in the third round of the Fanatec GT World Cup Europe Sprint Cup. The Belgian squad took a double win like last year, taking both races with Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, but also brought home a first Silver cup win this season with Frank Bird and Ryuichiro Tomita and a P3 overall in Race 2 for Benjamin Goethe and Kelvin van der Linde. The fourth ‘crown’ came in the Pirelli Pit Stop Challenge, with the Team WRT crews signing a 1-2-3 in both races!

Team Principal Vincent Vosse was clearly a happy man on Sunday eve: “We had indeed a very pleasant and perfect weekend; Misano confirmed to be a special place for us. This excellent result, with a double race win for Dries and Charles, put us again ahead in the championship standings, both Drivers’ and Teams’, and is an excellent boost ahead of the 24 Hours of Spa. I want to praise all the drivers for their excellent performance and the entire team, who has done a wonderful job. The pit stops were again crucial, they are a little bit special here, as we race anti-clockwise, but we had prepared well for that too.”

As expected, the Audi R8 LMS felt immediately at ease on the Italian track, with car #32 leading the free practice session, with car #30 in third and car #31 in P11. It was P3, P6 and P12, respectively, in prequalifying, confirming the trend. In Qualifying for Race 1, Charles Weerts brilliantly took the pole, with Frank Bird qualifying 15th and Benjamin Goethe 18th.

At the start and in the initial laps of Race 1, Weerts kept control of the situation, despite strong pressure from behind, while Bird took an impressive kick-off, climbing up to P8. Goethe got unfortunate though being involved in first lap drama, dropping to the back of the field, after a competitor hit him from behind. The situation did remain stable until the pit stop, with Weerts pitting relatively late (lap 15) and the Team WRT performing again a perfect pit stop, the fastest of the race. Vanthoor got back to the track with a gap of a handful of seconds that gave him breathing space, but everything came back to square one after a safety car period. Still, the Belgian was able to take the flag as winner. The other two cars had bad luck, as Ryuichiro Tomita, who was running 8th (2nd in Silver), had to stop in the pits with a drivability issue while Kelvin van der Linde, in P10, had to slow significantly in the last lap to reset the ECU, eventually crossing the line in P23.

The Sunday started under good auspices, with car #32 qualifying third, car #30 sixth and car #31 tenth. At the start and the first laps, Vanthoor maintained 3rd and van der Linde 6th, with Tomita climbing to P7, in a strong team show for the Belgian squad. In lap 16, with a great move, Vanthoor took second from Kujala and started closing the gap to the leader. The pit stops were again perfectly managed, with cars #31, #30 and #32 stopping in a sequence between laps 18 and 20, and the crew of car #32 being again the fastest of all. Weerts went back to the track with a 6-second advantage and doubled his gap throughout his stint, securing a double win. Goethe and Bird held excellent positions after the pit stop, 3rd and 4th, respectively. The Brit put the show at that moment, as he battled fiercely with Engel to maintain the position, resisting to all attacks and a contact that ended with a puncture for the Mercedes. The Brit took the Silver Cup win, finishing 4th overall right behind Benjamin Goethe, who signed his first podium at that level of competition.

Charles Weerts: “A really good weekend for us, with two wins. Misano proved to be a good place for us and it’s very good for the motivation and the mindset of everybody ahead of the 24 Hours of Spa. Let’s continue to push like this!”

Dries Vanthoor: “I’m very happy with the double win, Misano never let us down and we take maximum points. I am really thankful to the whole team, the car was outstanding and the guys did a fantastic job at the pit stops.”

Benjamin Goethe: “I am very happy of this first podium. We were unlucky in Race 1, but we worked well with the team to improve the car for today and finally we got this first podium finish, which is well-deserved, I think, especially by the team, who did a mega work.”

Kelvin van der Linde: “I’m very happy for the whole team, it’s a 1-3-4, we hardly could have done better. We really won the race at the pit stops, so a big thumbs up for the whole team and for Benji on his first podium.”

Frank Bird: “Overall, a fantastic day for the team, with a 1-3 overall and our first win in the Silver Cup. The pit stop were perfect and I could undercut a few positions. I did a little mistake in the second lap of my stint, but overall very happy with my performance.”

Ryuichiro Tomita: “We were a little bit disappointed with Race 1, we had some issues, but we had a good recovery. Today the car was very good, and the pace too. We had a good qualifying and I could gain some positions at the start, then the pit stop was perfect and Frank did a great job. Every car of the team got a podium, it is very good and very encouraging ahead of Spa.”

GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup – Round 3
Misano Adriatico, Italy – 2nd-4th July 2021

Race 1 Result
1. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 34 laps

2. Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) + 1s170
3. Roussel-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) + 3s485
4. Panis-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS) + 4s899
5. Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Audi R8 LMS) + 7s094
23. Goethe-van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) + 1 lap
26. Bird-Tomita (Audi R8 LMS) + 9 laps

Race 2 Result
1. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 38 laps
2. Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Mercedes AMG) +11s060
3. Goethe-van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) +18s025
4. Bird-Tomita (Audi R8 LMS) +18s605 (1st Silver Cup)
5. Lappalainen-Aitken (Lamborghini Huracán) +24s758