It has been a very good weekend for Team WRT under the Italian sun and on the Adriatic shore at Misano in the fourth round of the GTWCE Sprint Cup. Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts posted a double win (and double pole) to bring their seasonal toll of victories to four and reinforce their leadership (up to 11.5 points) in the Silver Cup standings. Benjamin Goethe and Thomas Neubauer took one win and one third in the Silver Cup, on top of an overall podium in Race 1. There were two heavy points finishes for Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Christopher Mies, while local hero Valentino Rossi and Frédéric Vervisch rounded the weekend with an excellent P5 in Race 2, for now the best result for car #46.

WRT Team Principal Vincent Vosse was happy but measured after the race: “We clearly lost one overall podium and a Silver Cup win in the last lap of Race 2, but overall, it was a strong weekend for us. Car #32 had a perfect show, although nothing is done towards the championship and we have seen last year that, as the Audi in Misano, the Mercedes is very strong in Valencia. The data also show that the Mercedes has done the fastest race lap this weekend so we can’t rest. Our other cars have had very solid outings and I am very happy for Vale, who takes his best result so far in front of his fans.”

The hot weekend on the Adriatic started well for the Audi R8 LMS cars of Team WRT, which proved fast since the initial sessions. The good form was confirmed in Qualifying for Race 1, with Charles Weerts putting car #32 in pole. Thomas Neubauer did the same in the Silver Cup, posting an excellent P6 overall, with Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer in P8 in car #33 and Valentino Rossi qualifying car #46 in P15.

The start of Race 1 saw no problems for all Team WRT drivers, and a safety-car period had to start before the end of lap 1 because of cars stranded in the track after contacts at the back of the grid. The restart was perfectly handled by Weerts, who progressively built a gap of 5 seconds in his stint. Neubauer climbed up to 4th, with Simmenauer in P9 and Rossi gaining two positions up to P13. Cars #30 and #33 were the first to pit, with #32 and #46 doing it shortly after. Unfortunately, in his last lap, Rossi had a contact with a Mercedes. The car managed to do its pit stop but Vervisch had to come back immediately to the pits with an issue on the front left and eventually retired. In the lead, Vanthoor basically kept the 5-second advantage, while Goethe managed to seize P3 overall, with no one able to threaten the Silver Cup win. Mies, who started his stint in 7th gained a position after a perfect move on one of the Ferraris.

The Sunday started with similar good auspices as car #32, with Dries Vanthoor at the wheel, took pole position for the first time in the Sprint Cup since 2019, with Christopher Mies third in #33, Fred Vervisch 12th in #46 and Benji Goethe 19th in #30.

Race 1 start would start exactly as Race 1, with a perfect kick-off of Vanthoor from the pole and the safety-car deployed before the end of lap 1. It was perfect start also from Mies, in P3, and most of all, from Vervisch, who gained five positions, with Goethe gaining two. After restart, Vanthoor started to pull away at the pace of 2-3 tenths per lap (up to 6 seconds before the pit stop), with Mies third, Vervisch fighting hard with Costa for P6, and Goethe climbing up to P13 by the opening of the pit stop window. Car #30 would be the first one to stop, with the other cars doing it towards the end of the window. Weerts started his stint strongly, bringing the advantage to 9 seconds, while Simmenauer was third, Rossi an excellent 5th and Neubauer 9th and on top of the Silver ranking. Nothing much happened up to the last five minutes of the race when a safety-car period left only one final flying lap of racing, during which Weerts and Rossi kept their position but Simmenauer and Neubauer lost respectively one and two, with the latter finishing third in the Silver Cup.

Dries Vanthoor: “A good weekend for us, with a maximum of points, this is what we came here for. It’s a little bit of a pity that the Mercedes got second twice, but we know they are strong. We have some margin ahead of Valencia, let’s see how it will go as we know the Mercedes was really quick there last year.”

Charles Weerts: “A perfect weekend for us. Two races: two wins, to poles! Thanks to Dries and all the team for the great job. We extended our lead, which gives us a little breathing space ahead of the last round in Valencia, but nothing is done as this is a track more favorable to our opponents. Let’s bring it on!”

Thomas Neubauer: “The Saturday race was very good, with third row and first pole in Silver and then the win. It’s what we needed after a difficult start of the season, sorry to say this again but it’s what it is. In Race 2, we had a very good pace, Benji did a great job, but then after the safety-car, the Ferrari drivers played some game and we lost the win…”

Benjamin Goethe: “Obviously, I am very happy with the results in Race 1, with P3 overall and the win in the Silver Cup, which was well-deserved, I believe. In Race 2, I wasn’t happy with my qualifying but we managed to come back and were leading again in the Silver Cup. Unfortunately, there was some incident in the last lap and we finished third, which is disappointing.”

Valentino Rossi : “I am happy as we took our best result so far in Race 2. Our starting position wasn’t very good but Fred managed to advance five positions in lap 1. The pit stop was very fast and my pace was good, I could keep the position and P5 is a good result. On Saturday, I had a good start but than lost two positions because of an incident ahead of me. I was stuck behind a Mercedes, I tried to overtake but it was impossible and when we came to the pits for the driver change, I touched it slightly, puncturing the tyre and having some more damage, as we had to retire.”

Fréderic Vervisch: “Very happy with the result in Race 2 after a disappointing qualifying session and a difficult Race 1. It’s the best result for us in Sprint, here at home for Vale. He managed his stint very well, resisting well to the pressure, especially at the end. The podium is getting closer.”

Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer: “In Race 1, P6 was quite a good result considering where we came from and a difficult qualifying. In Race 2, we were P3 and I tried very hard to pass the Mercedes, but he closed well the spaces. At the restart for the final lap after the safety-car, I felt something strange in the front left and could not keep the position, I don’t know what happened.”

Christopher Mies: “It’s a little bit disappointing to miss the podium in the very last lap. We definitely had the pace to make P2 or P3 in the second race. On Saturday, starting from further back in the grid, P6 was a solid result. It looks like that J-B and I will have to wait for the last round to be on the podium…”

Fanatec World GT Challenge Europe powered by AWS - Sprint Cup Round 4
Misano Adriatico, Italy – 1-3 July 2022

Race 1 results:

1.Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 37 laps

2.Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Mercedes AMG) + 5s608

3.Goethe-Neubauer (Audi R8 LMS) +16s399 (1st Silver)

4.Gachet-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) +17s983

5.Schothorst-Marschall (Audi R8 LMS) +28s343

6.Simmenauer-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) +28s501

DNF Rossi-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS) 22 laps (damage)

Race 2 results:

2.Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 37 laps

2.Boguslavskiy-Marciello (Mercedes AMG) + 2s125

3.Gachet-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) + 2s979

4.Simmenauer-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) + 3s388

5.Rossi-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS) + 4s350

10.Neubauer-Goethe (Audi R8 LMS) + 6s383 (3rd Silver)

Photo: Michele Scudiero