What an incredible Sunday for Team WRT at Brands Hatch! All expectations ahead of the fourth round of the Sprint Cup of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS were exceeded. Thanks to a win in Race 1 and P2 in Race 2, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts secured the Sprint Cup Drivers’ title, their second in a row, and so did Team WRT in the Teams’ standings, as, mathematically, it cannot be ‘overtaken’ in the last round scheduled at Valencia. Last but not least, Team WRT crews netted the 2021 Pirelli Pit Stop Challenge.

The excellent weekend was completed by another win and second place in the Silver Cup, obtained by Frank Bird and Ryuichiro Tomita, who also were third overall in Race 1. Benjamin Goethe-Christopher Mies scored points in Race 2, with all the Team WRT cars finishing both races.

Team Principal Vincent Vosse was celebrated the achievement: “It’s a fantastic weekend, as we take both Sprint Cup titles with still one round to go, take race wins and podium finishes both overall and in the Silver Cup. Clearly, things went our direction and we benefitted from some luck, as events unfolded against our main rivals. Everybody saw that without those incidents, we did not have enough pace to do a pole or to win. Still, the team has done an outstanding job, the drivers were faultless, the pit stops were perfect... I am very proud of everybody.”

The Audi proved at ease, as in previous visits, on the British track, with the three cars in the top-8 in free practice and in the top 15 in pre-qualifying, which saw a bad accident of Benjamin Goethe at Westfield. Despite the car going upwards, damages were repairable for the first qualifying session, where car #32 took P3, car #31 P12 and car #30 P20.

Start of Race 1 was relatively smooth but a couple of cars stuck in the gravel prompted a full-course yellow after two laps. Charles Weerts was 4th at that time, after being very cautious in the initial phases, with Frank Bird already up to P8 (4th among the Silver) and Benjamin Goethe 21st. Not much happened up to the pit stops that the drivers performed in sequence in laps 19, 20 and 21, respectively.

Vanthoor gained one position in the exercise, running third at the beginning of the second stint, Tomita two (6th and 2nd in Silver) and Mies one (20th). With the two front-runners fighting fiercely, Vanthoor managed to close the gap and threaten them, but a contact between the two first, while lapping another car, provoked the violent crash of the leading McLaren and the race ended behind the safety-car. The P2 collected by car #32 became victory when the Mercedes of Marciello was handed a post-race penalty for the mentioned incident.

The Lambo that finished fourth was also sanctioned, with car #31 inheriting P3, overall podium and the Silver Cup win. Car #30 was classified 18th.

The Team WRT Audi cars were in good position on the grid of Race 2 (Vanthoor 3rd, Tomita 6th and Mies 10th) and basically kept these positions through the entire first stint, except for exception of Tomita, running 7th. Car #32 and #31 pitted in laps 18 and 17, respectively, while Mies stayed on track as much as possible (until lap 22), putting on very fast laps.

In the second part of the race, Vanthoor kept third, which was enough for securing the title. A puncture hitting the leading car (and main championship rival) didn’t change anything to the outcome of the title battle but meant finishing second. Bird kept the P6 he had after the driver change, collecting a second Silver podium (2nd) while Goethe finished an excellent ninth.

Dries Vanthoor: “I feel quite emotional, don’t know what to say… To be back-to-back champion, one round before the end, is just amazing. It proves how well we prepared the season and what a fantastic job Team WRT and Audi have done, I am so happy to be part of this team. This weekend we weren’t the quickest, but everybody did a great job and Charles is just an amazing kid… It’s so cool and I am so happy…”

Charles Weerts: “Great weekend. We knew it was going to be challenging and aimed at some good results and extending our lead, but not necessarily at securing the title already. We did it, thanks to two great results, first and second, and I am really happy. We worked a lot and well for this, the team did an amazing job and I think the titles are well-deserved.”

Benjamin Goethe: “Really a nice weekend, it was my first time at Brands Hatch and it’s a cool track. Congratulations to Charles, Dries and the entire team for the titles, it’s a great achievement. In Race 1, we struggled a bit with the car, we were off-pace, but we did some set-up changes ahead of Race 2 and the car was much better, all in all I am happy with the weekend.”

Christopher Mies: “I was very happy to be back with Team WRT, it’s always a pleasure and we had a lot of fun. First of all, congratulations to the team, Dries and Charles for the titles, well deserved. For us, Race 1 was a little bit conditioned by the accident that Benji had in the morning, but we were able to finish. In Race 2, we had a really good pace, everything went well and I really enjoyed the fast laps I could perform.”

Frank Bird: “A mega weekend for my home race, I m really very happy. I was a little bit nervous coming here, did not know what expect, but the car was very good, a real pleasure to drive. P1 and P2 in the Silver Cup and an overall podium, it’s really a great weekend for us!”

Ryuichiro Tomita: “I came to Brands Hatch a little bit stressed, because I never drove on this track before, but we did a great job together with the team and eventually, we ended on the podium in both races. It’s a great result, we did not expect it. We have created a great atmosphere and we are looking forward to another great weekend at Valencia for the last race.”

GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup – Round 4
Brands Hatch, United Kingdom, 28-29 August 2021

Race 1 Result
1. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 40 laps

2. Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) + 0s407
3. Bird-Tomita (Audi R8 LMS) + 8s487 (1st Silver)
4. Pérez Companc-Breukers (Lamborghini Huracan) + 9s730
5. Panis-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS) +10s438
18. Goethe-van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS) +39s733

Race 2 Result
1. Stolz-Engel (Mercedes AMG) 40 laps
2. Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) + 1s925
3. Umbrarescu-Gounon (Mercedes AMG) +15s340
4. Puhakka-Tunjo (Mercedes AMG) +16s438
5. Bird-Tomita (Audi R8 LMS) +16s888 (2nd Silver)
9. Goethe-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) +30s244

PHOTO: Michele Scudiero

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