AUDI SPORT TEAM WRT TO SPA 24 HOURS WITH EVEN GREATER DETERMINATION
AUDI SPORT TEAM WRT TO SPA 24 HOURS WITH EVEN GREATER DETERMINATION
Time has come for the GT3 community to gather for the biggest race of the year, the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, and once again, all the superlatives are ready to be used to describe one of the greatest races in the world in one of the most iconic tracks in the world.
As always too, Team WRT approaches the rendez-vous in the Ardennes with the additional emotions that ‘home race’ entails, and this year, with the responsibility of being in a very favourable position in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe standings.
The Belgian squad will enter two Audi R8 LMS in the Pro category, under the banner of Audi Sport Team WRT, and two in the Silver Cup, under the Team WRT colours.
The 73rd edition of the ‘big one’ has retrieved its usual position in the calendar, at the very end of July, but will still be run under the unusual conditions dictated by the pandemic, although it will partially re-open to a few thousand spectators. Needless to say, the recent tragic floodings that have affected the region of the ‘three borders’ (Belgium, Germany, Netherlands) and in particular, the areas of Spa and Verviers, make even more unusual the overall atmosphere, with racing being a forceful sign of everybody’s will to return to normal life.
Since its inception, Team WRT has been a top player in the 24 Hours, clinching victory in 2011 and 2014 and taking podium finishes in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. No doubt that there is in the Beaudour-based squad a strong wish and determination to reconnect with that successful story, as Team Principal Vincent Vosse confirms: “We have always been in a position to win in all these years, but things have not gone our way in recent editions. There are always so many variables at Spa... What is sure is that we strongly want to be back at the top, even more so this year, as so many people close to us, friends, neighbours, fellow race teams, have been harshly hit by the recent natural disaster. Going back to racing is also a way to try to get back to normal life quickly, and I want to thank and congratulate everybody at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the their hard work to put back in activity the track. The 24 Hours is becoming more and more competitive, as proven by the quality of teams and driver line-ups, which keeps growing year after year. We are very well equipped too and have prepared well. We’ll do our best, and more, to make it work.”
Besides the importance and the prestige of the race in itself, Team WRT will be fighting also to maintain and possibly further improve its current positions in the different Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe championships. In the Overall standings, Team WRT has a 29-point lead among teams while Dries Vanthoor-Charles Weerts lead the Drivers’ ranking by 25.5 points. In the Endurance Cup, the pair is only 9 points away from the top, while Team WRT has a narrow gap, 3 points, among squads.
At Spa, the two factory Audi R8 LMS cars of the Belgian squad, running in Pro and targeting victory, will be sporting, as usual, the colours of Audi Sport Team WRT, and driven by Kelvin van der Linde-Dries Vanthoor-Charles Weerts (#32) and Robin Frijns-Dennis Lind-Nico Müller (#37), with the Dane being competing for WRT at Spa for the first time.
The two Team WRT entries will compete and fight for honours in the Silver Cup. Frank Bird-Valdemar Eriksen-Ryuichiro Tomita compose the regular line-up of car #31, while in car #30, a last-minute change proved necessary, and Stuart Hall will be replaced by young gun Franco Colapinto, from Argentina, who will join Benjamin Goethe and James Pull.
Track activity at Spa will commence on Thursday, with the kick-off of the race scheduled at 16:30 on Saturday.
Dries Vanthoor: “It’s Spa coming up, one of the biggest races for us, we all want to do well there and for sure, we can. Team-wise and line-up-wise, I don’t think there is anything to complain about… It’s all perfect and the team has prepared well to give us a car to fight for it. Of course, it is going to be a little special this year, with everything which has happened in the Spa region and elsewhere in Belgium, for that reason too we’d like to do well. If we do a good race and no mistakes, we can be fighting for the win, and let’s not forget about the points in the championship.”
Charles Weerts: “It’s the biggest week of the year for us, and I am looking forward to it. It will be long and tough, as always, but as a team, we are hands up and ready to take the challenge. We have been working well and for a long time to prepare Spa and make it a good one. Let’s give the best of ourselves and see what happens.”
Nico Müller: “Spa is an amazing race in any case, but even more so when you do it with Team WRT, as it is home race for them. Seeing how much motivation and passion every team member puts in this race makes you even more motivated to give your everything to win it. We have a great team behind us, a great car and a great line-up with Robin and Dennis, the preparation has gone well and we have one goal. We know we are super strong this year, but we also know Spa is never easy... We’ll take it day by day, hour by hour, and if in the final hours, we will be in a position to win, be sure that there won’t be anything left on our table...”
Dennis Lind: “It’s cool to be back to the 24 Hours, such an iconic race, with an iconic team and an iconic manufacturer, and I am very happy to share the wheel with Robin and Nico. I’m sure Team WRT is going to make an amazing job as usual, and I will try to do my best as well, but it’s a difficult race, where you need to make very few mistakes and also need a little bit of luck to make it through. If so until 16:30 on Sunday, I am sure we will be in a good position.”
Benjamin Goethe: “I am excited ahead what is, of course, the most special week of the year. I am sorry that Stuart cannot join us but happy to share the car with Franco and James, who are very quick drivers. Spa remains an unpredictable race, because of the weather and everything, but hopefully, we will have a good weekend.”
Franco Colapinto: ‘’This is an incredible opportunity. When I thought my season can’t be any crazier, I get a chance to race in the greatest GT race in the world in an Audi R8 LMS with one of the most successful GT teams on the grid. I’m grateful to Team WRT, ROFGO, and Bullet Sports Management for making this happen. I really do feel sorry for Stuart and wish him a speedy recovery. I will do my best to fit in and learn as much as I can from my more experienced teammates and continue the great work they have all done so far. I am under no illusions that this is going to be easy but I am really looking forward to such an opportunity.”
Ryuichiro Tomita: "The Spa 24 Hours is a dream come true for me and I'm really happy to be racing on this stage with such a great team as WRT. It's one of the most traditional races of the season and I can't wait to get started. I would also like to thank the circuit and the SRO for organising the event despite the recent floods and I wish recovery and safety to all the people of Belgium, the team's and my second home country.”Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS - Endurance Cup Round 3
TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, Belgium, 28 July – 1st August 2021
Thursday 29 July 2021
10:50-12:20 Free Practice 1
20:50-21:05 Qualifying 1
21:12-21:27 Qualifying 2
21:34-21:49 Qualifying 3
21:56-22:11 Qualifying 4
22:30-24:00 Night Practice
Friday 30 July 2021
19:50-20:20 Super Pole
Saturday 31 July 2021
16:30 Start of Race
Sunday 1st August 2021
16:30 End of Race
Audi Sport Team WRT entries (Audi R8 LMS)
#32 Kelvin van der Linde (ZA) – Dries Vanthoor (BE) – Charles Weerts (BE) Pro
#37 Robin Frijns (NL) – Dennis Lind (DK) – Nico Müller (CH) Pro
Team WRT entries (Audi R8 LMS)
#30 Franco Colapinto (AR) - Benjamin Goethe (DE) – James Pull (GB) Silver
#31 Frank Bird (GB) – Valdemar Eriksen (DK) - Ryuichiro Tomita (JP) Silver
10 hours ago
#Friday moments by 📸 Sergey Savrasov ⠀ #WRT #ELMS #4HPortimao https://t.co/mjWNXPmxWn