It was a great four-way battle in the final and decisive round of the GTWCE Endurance Cup at Barcelona, and at the end of a very closely-fought 3-hour race, there was more glory for Team WRT, who took – by one point – the Endurance Cup Teams’ title, its fifth crown in this year’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS.

By finishing third in the race, Robin Frijns-Dries Vanthoor-Charles Weerts, achieved this further success, with the two Belgians just missing out on the Endurance Cup Drivers’ title by 4 points.

More satisfaction for the Belgian squad came in the Silver Cup, with Frank Bird-Valdemar Eriksen-Ryuichiro Tomita finishing the race on the podium as 2nd and Benjamin Goethe-Stuart Hall-James Pull taking P6. Pull-Goethe are fifth in the class in the Endurance Cup and Tomita-Bird fifth in the GTWCE overall rankings of the class. Team WRT finishes as the Silver Cup runner-up team in the Endurance Cup.

Team Principal Vincent Vosse was a happy man after the fall of the curtain on the 2021 season: “Today we did the maximum we could with what we had in our hands, we could not have done better. We lacked speed, but we did a great job in a race very closely-fought and with a number of penalties. It was enough to secure another title, the fifth out of six possible, which is a great achievement. Without that puncture at Monza, we could have gotten all the titles, but we shouldn’t have regrets. I thank all the drivers and the entire team for their fantastic work, and I am also very happy with the results obtained in the Silver Cup.”

At Barcelona, it was clear that with 47 cars entered, the final round of the Endurance Cup was going to be very competitive and that was clear since the initial practice sessions. The three Audi R8 LMS of Team WRT progressed through those session to be in the top-20 in pre-qualifying, with car #32 as the best-placed in P9, while qualifying left some mixed feelings. Car #32 took P10 on the grid, as best Audi, with car #31 in P22 and car #30 in P37.

The start of the race was relatively smooth, except for Frank Bird who got slightly hit at the back in first lap. After the initial phases and already a full-course yellow, Robin Frijns was a solid 7th, with Bird in P22 and Benjamin Goethe 26th. Coping with a slow puncture, Bird was the first one to stop for driver change, handing the wheel to Valdemar Eriksen, while Stuart Hall jumped in car #30 five laps later and Frijns handed over to Charles Weerts one lap later. In the middle stint, in a race that saw the group staying very compact, Weerts gained one position up to 6th, with Eriksen and Hall being 5th and 7th respectively in the Silver Cup.

Perfect strategy in the second pit stop allowed Dries Vanthoor to be 4th at the beginning of his stint, with Ryuichiro Tomita climbing to 4th in the Silver Cup ahead of James Pull (6th). The final stint was a big fight at all stages, with a couple of full-course yellows and safety cars making gaps even smaller. In the closing laps, Vanthoor managed to take 3rd and secure the Endurance Cup Teams’ title, with cars #31, making it to the Silver Cup podium, and #30, as 2ndand 6th respectively.

Dries Vanthoor: “It was not an easy weekend, we did not have the pace of the Lambos and the Mercedes, just did not have the speed. Thankfully, we did a clean race, no mistakes and I could finish it off well. It was again a great team effort, thank you to the team.”

Charles Weerts: “A tough weekend for us, we suffered from performance throughout it, but as usual, we did our best in the race and it paid off with a good result. It’s a shame we missed the Drivers’ title in the Endurance Cup, but I don’t think we lost it here, and still, it has been a fantastic season for the team.”

Robin Frijns: “The weekend went pretty ok, considering that we were not the quickest on a single lap. We qualified so-and-so, but then recovered in the race and could finish third. We took out the maximum we could...”

Benjamin Goethe: “A little bit disappointed by the result, we would have wanted to finish on the podium, but we need to improve in qualifying. Once again, our race pace was okay but we really need to work on qualifying.”

Stuart Hall: “It was a tricky weekend, especially in qualifying, but things got better in the race, although the final result is not what we wanted. It has been an honour to drive for Team WRT and I am very happy of the progress done by Benji. Now, let’s work hard during the winter to come back stronger and quicker.”

Frank Bird: “It was a mega race for the last race of the season. I had a good start but I was hit by several cars, then had a slow puncture in the rear left, it was a difficult stint for me, but then Valdemar and Ryu did a great job and kept P2. It’s the best reward for all the hard work throughout the season, thank you to the entire team.”

Valdemar Eriksen: “I am really happy to finish off the season like that. It was a very long stint for me, as Frank did a very good job but had a puncture, so he pitted earlier. I was 80 minutes at the wheel, going around trying to keep tyres alive, which I think I did quite well, then Ryu finished the job and we took second. It’s been a very good season, I learnt a lot and hope to be stronger next year.”

James Pull: “We struggled a bit with the pace the entire weekend, especially in qualifying, we seemed to lack general grip compared to the others. In the race we made up a lot of positions, also thanks to a great strategy, and it’s the best result we could get given our starting position. It’s been a real pleasure working with Team WRT, everybody know it is one of the very best teams, and I hope to be back next year.”

Ryuichiro Tomita: "It was a good weekend, we finally got a good result in the Endurance Cup and I was happy to sign my best qualifying ever. It’s nice to get our best result at the final race. It has been a season of ups and downs, which went better in the Sprint Cup than in the Endurance, and hopefully next year I can be back with this great team.”

Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS - Endurance Cup Round 5
Barcelona 3 Hours, 8-10 October 2021

Race Result
1. Marciello-Fraga-Gounon (Mercedes-AMG GT3) 95 laps
2. Bachler-Engelhart-Cairoli (Porsche 911 GT3-R) + 2s174
3. Frijns-Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) + 4s036

4. Bortolotti-Mapelli-Caldarelli (Lamborghini Huracan) + 9s511
5. Engel-Stolz-Bastian (Mercedes-AMG GT3) +9s984
12. Bird-Eriksen-Tomita (Audi R8 LMS) +19s952 2nd Silver Cup
18. Goethe-Hall-Pull (Audi R8 LMS) +26s545 6th Silver Cup