It was an excellent weekend in the Netherlands for Team WRT, as Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts took pole, win in Race-1 and second in Race-2, retaking the points lead in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup, both for themselves and for Team WRT, by 0.5 points. There was more satisfaction for the Belgian squad, with two Silver Cup podiums and points finishes for Benjamin Goethe-Thomas Neubauer, who stay in the race for the junior class honours.

Vincent Vosse was a satisfied team principal at the moment of leaving Zandvoort: “It was exactly what we needed to re-launch our championship campaign in the Sprint Cup, with a second overall win, very heavy points and three more podium finishes, including the two in the Silver Cup. The team and the drivers did a fantastic job, there is nothing to say. Now, we are off to Spa for the test days ahead of the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday, and we need to focus on these very important sessions.”

The Audi R8 LMS of the Belgian squad proved at ease on the Dutch track since free practice, with three cars in the top-5 in pre-qualifying. Unfortunately, #46 was more unlucky, as an off-track early in the practice session brought significant damage and required a change of chassis, leaving the drivers out of track activity on Friday.

On Saturday, qualifying confirmed the good impressions, with Charles Weerts in car #32 signing his first pole of the year in the GTWCE Sprint Cup, Thomas Neubauer taking P8 (and P3 in the Silver Cup) in car #30, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer in P15 in car #33 and Valentino Rossi posting the 20th time but having to start from P23 in the grid because of the changed chassis.

At the start of the race, Weerts maintained the advantage and kept control of things during his entire stint, which he concluded with a 3.5-second advantage. The initial phases were to be more lively for the other Team WRT cars, with Neubauer sliding to P12 and Simmenauer in P15, fighting hard with the Mercedes of the championship leaders, which eventually hit the Frenchman at the exit of the Tarzan corner, sending him into a spin and to last position, P24, right behind Valentino Rossi.

The pit stops were perfectly executed. They allowed Dries Vanthoor to keep the lead and the Belgian resisted all attacks at the restart after a safety-car period in the last quarter of the race to take the second win of the season and retake the sprint Cup points lead. Christopher Mies emerged as 14th after the pit stop and had a brilliant stint, eventually taking P9 ahead of Benjamin Goethe, 10th and third in the Silver Cup. On his side, Frédéric Vervisch gained some positions to put #46 in P14.

On Sunday, Vanthoor qualified 4th, Mies 11th, Vervisch 14th and Goethe 21st with a red flag towards the end of the session impeding several drivers to finish their quickest laps.

In the race, Vanthoor took and maintained third throughout his stint, with Mies in P9 in the initial stages. Unfortunately, the German would suffer a rear puncture dropping to 20th. Goethe was 14th (3rd in Silver) ahead of Vervisch. Weerts and Goethe were the first to pit among the Team WRT cars, with #32 rejoining in second. Weerts maintained that position, securing an excellent harvest of points. Car #33, with Simmenauer, had difficulty climbing back positions and another puncture suggested some kind of technical issue and advised to retire in the penultimate lap. Thomas Neubauer crossed the line 10th, taking another Silver Cup podium, and Vale Rossi crossed the line in P16.

Dries Vanthoor: “A good weekend for us, with a first and a second, a lot of good points and back in the lead of the standings, although narrowly. Our opponents remain very strong but let’s see what happens at Misano, where we generally do well.”

Charles Weerts: “It was a nice weekend, we are back in the lead, which is important, it was crucial to get a lot of points here. Let’s keep the momentum!”

Thomas Neubauer: “We took good points this weekend, but I had a very bad start in Race 1 and after it was difficult to catch up, despite the good work of Benji. We still lack some luck and some experience from my side; In Race 2, the strategy was perfect, but on a track like this it was impossible to pass the two rivals in front of us.”

Benjamin Goethe: “Two times third is not a bad result, it means good points, but we would have hoped on something better. My qualifying today was not good, but we managed to recover. Now let’s focus on Misano and hope to win there.”

Valentino Rossi : ‘’It was a difficult weekend, we expected to be stronger because the feeling when we tested here in the winter was good. My pace was good at the end but not enough to be in the top-10, we hope to do better next time.”

Fréderic Vervisch: “It was of course a difficult weekend because we lost a lot of practice time, but the team did a great job to give us another car, and we did what we could starting from the back. We finished the races and we gained a lot of experience.”

Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer: “I was stuck in traffic in Qualifying 1 and then in the race I was tipped by another car, but we managed to recover up to P9. Today, there is not much to say, Chris had a good pace but then we had two punctures and I was hit by another car, so we had to retire.”

Fanatec World GT Challenge Europe powered by AWS - Sprint Cup Round 3
Zandvoort, Netherlands – 17-19 June 2022

Race 1 results:

1.Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 35 laps

2.Gounon-Pla (Mercedes AMG) + 2s812

3.Gachet-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) + 5s166

4.De Pauw-Jean (Ferrari 488) + 8s604

5.Panis-Niederhauser (Audi R8 LMS) + 8s9449

9.Simmenauer-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) +11s687

10.Goethe-Neubauer (Audi R8 LMS) +16s882 (3rd Silver)

14. Rossi-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS) +21s723

Race 2 result:

1.Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Mercedes AMG) 36 laps

2.Weerts-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS) + 0s498662

3.Marschall-Schothorst (Audi R8 LMS) + 6s310

4.Gounon-Pla (Mercedes AMG) + 6s584

5.Lind-Abril (McLaren 720S) + 7s510

10.Neubauer-Goethe (Audi R8 LMS) + 16s990 (3rd Silver)

16.Rossi-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS) +23s857

DNF Mies-Simmenauer (Audi R8 LMS) 29 laps (mechanical)

Photo: Brecht Decancq

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10 months ago

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