It was an Indianapolis 8 Hours full of contrasting emotions for Audi Sport Team WRT, as the Belgian squad missed the victory because of a last-minute drive-through. Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts and Christopher Mies in car #32 eventually crossed the line in 6th.

Like often in the US, the race was rich in full-course yellow periods and incidents. One of those, at an early stage, compromised the race of car #37, with Mattia Drudi, Robin Frijns and Nico Müller still able to recover to finish 12th.

The disappointment in the Team WRT camp was partially mitigated by the fact that the race was won by an Audi R8 LMS, further strengthening the lead of the German brand in the Intercontinental GT Challenge standings.

Team Principal Vincent Vosse commented: “It was a chaotic race, with a lot of incidents, which also affected our cars, especially the #37, whose race was compromised since the early stages. We don’t really understand the sanction inflicted to car #32 for allegedly ‘speeding under yellow’, but there is nothing we can do against that. We did a very solid race, despite too many pit stops, and we would have deserved the win.”

The Audi R8 LMS did well in the practice, with cars #32 and #37 always in the top-8 in free practice and qualifying and Mattia Drudi signing the fastest lap time in Q2. In the combined qualifying, car #37 was second and car #32 seventh, both making it to the Pole shootout where #32 took P5 and #37 P6 in the grid.

On Sunday, with dry weather, the start was smooth for the Audi Sport Team WRT cars, which swapped positions during the first lap, with Frijns taking 5th ahead of Mies. They both climbed up one position after some incidents and a full course yellow. Unfortunately, another incident involved Frijns in lap 18, when the Dutchman was hit at turn 1 by a McLaren having missed the breaking point. The contact resulted in serious damage in the front right and 4 laps lost for repairs. Car #37 rejoined in P37 with Mattia Drudi at the wheel. Mies pitted in lap 26, during another yellow period, with Charles Weerts taking over and climbing positions from P10 to P5 after some lively fighting with Niederhauser and Holton. In his second consecutive stint, Weerts further climbed up to third but an attempt to take second ended in making contact with Engel, with both cars spinning on the grass. It also brought a drive-through for car #32, which rejoined in P11.

By the 3-hour mark, car #32, with Dries Vanthoor at wheel, was 8th and car #37, driven by Frijns, in P20. The central part of the race was going to be quieter, with Mies stabilizing car #32 in fifth in his second double stint and Nico Müller recovering up to 14th in car #37, with pit stops and yellow periods influencing race positions and gaps. Dries Vanthoor took the wheel of #32 in lap 207, battling hard with Caldarelli for fourth and then climbed into the top-3 and took the lead shortly before the -45 minutes mark, having pitted only for fuel and after the leading Ferrari fell out of the race because of a mistake. Shortly after, though, the Belgian was hit by a drive-through less than 30 minutes from the end for not slowing down enough during a yellow. He rejoined in 6th, crossing the line in that position, after a final battle with Pier Guidi, while Frijns ended the recovery of car #37 in P12.

Christopher Mies: “Obviously, we were hoping for better results. We had the victory within reach and it was taken away from us, I don’t even know what happened exactly... It was quite an eventful race and hopefully, we’ll come back again next year...”

Dries Vanthoor: “It was a frustrating end to the weekend. It was tricky out there, we had setbacks and a couple of contacts, but still, we got into the lead. We still have to figure out what went wrong and why exactly we got a penalty. Otherwise, it was a very pleasant weekend with Team WRT and Audi Sport, and congratulations to our sister car for the win.”

Charles Weerts: “I don’t really know what to say, it was an eventful race for sure. At the beginning, we struggled to keep the pace of the Ferraris, but we managed to stay in the fight. I did a mistake when trying to overtake one of the Mercedes, and unfortunately, we crashed and I got a drive-through. We made our way back to the front and we had a good strategy. What happened at the end is really a mystery to me, it’s difficult for me to understand and accept. Still, we are happy for the victory of an Audi and let’s hope that at the next race it will be our time.”

Mattia Drudi: “It was a very good weekend … until the race. We worked hard to prepare the car at best for the race. The Pole shootout wasn’t the best but enough to get P6. Robin did a very good start before the McLaren crashed into our car. There was quite some damage to aero of the car, so we struggled throughout the race. It was a very good experience to race for the first time with Team WRT and I am happy for the Audi success.”

Nico Müller: “It was an exciting race, if I can say so, as after 20 minutes into it, we were already 4 laps down... It’s a pity, because we had the pace to do much better, but we still managed to finish the race and collect some points. It was a pleasure to be back with Team WRT and congratulations to our Saintéloc friends..”

Intercontinental GT World Challenge Round 2
Indianapolis 8 Hours, USA – 14-17 October 2021

Race Result
1. Niederhauser-Haase-Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS) 265 laps
2. Marciello-Juncadella-Boguslavskiy (Mercedes AMG) +11s958
3. Caldarelli-Bortolotti-Pepper (Mercedes AMG) +22s853
4. Baert-Panis-Legeret (Audi R8 LMS) +30s937
5 Pier Guidi-Ledogar-Nielsen (Ferrari 488) +49s508
6. Mies-Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) +51s655
12. Drudi-Frijns-Müller (Audi R8 LMS) + 4 laps

PHOTO: Audi Sport

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