The Hockenheim round of the Endurance Cup of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS brought another title for Team WRT, as Benjamin Goethe, Thomas Neubauer and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, with their podium finish (3rd) of today secured the Silver Cup crowns (Drivers and Teams). There was more satisfaction in the overall results, as Nico Müller-Valentino Rossi-Frédéric Vervisch took a brilliant 5th, like at the Paul Ricard. The German race though also brought disappointment, as car #32 of Kelin van der Linde-Dries Vanthoor-Charles Weerts, which had conquered pole position and led the initial part of the race, was forced to retire by a technical issue.

Team WRT Principal Vincent Vosse commented: “It was a weekend with a bit of everything. The Audis proved strong and everything was aligned for car #32, but it wasn’t to be. These things happen. On the positive side, our young guys of car #30 took another podium in the Silver Cup and the class titles while car #46 had a fantastic weekend and took a very nice top 5, proving the great progression, , which is great.”

The weekend in Germany started with positive feedback for the Audis of Team WRT with #32 at the top end of free practice session. Qualifying confirmed the good form, as car #32 took an authoritative pole, with each of the three drivers leading their session. Car #30 also took pole, in the Silver Cup, thanks to a P8 overall lap time, while car #46 qualified an excellent 10th. Car #33 was 26th (3rd in the Gold Cup) and car #31 took P31.

Charles Weerts made a perfect start from the pole, but a number of contacts occurred in the group, affecting also Valentino Rossi, and one McLaren crashing against the barriers prompted a long yellow flag period. In that phase, behind the leader Weerts, Benji Goethe was 13th, Rossi 20th, Finlay Hutchison 29th and Arnold Robin 30th. 

The race resumed after 15 laps (30 minutes) and soon after Arnold Robin was hit and sent into a spin at restart, rejoining at the very back. Weerts led with authority in the first stint, with Goethe in P10 and third in Silver, but both cars encountered issues at the first-hour mark, with Weerts having to concede positions because of a gearbox problem. He made it to the pitstop but Kelvin van der Linde had to come back to the pits retiring immediately after. In the same sequence, Car #30, bothered by the Car #32, had a lengthy pit stop, losing 30 seconds.

The beginning of the second hour saw Fred Vervisch in P9, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer 21st right ahead of Proctor and Maxime Robin 39th. Vervisch, with a couple of great moves, climbed to P6 by lap 54, joining the furious battle for second. The Belgian came to the pits and handed over the wheel to Nico Müller, who found him 7th in the heated fight during the last hour, gaining two positions to finish 5th. Thomas Neubauer finished in the top 10 overall, clinching 3rd in the Silver Cup and securing the titles in the Silver Cup, while Ryuchiro Tomita was 8th in the Gold Cup and Diego Menchaca brought car #31, which lost four laps in the final part of the race to have the rear wing changed, to 12th in the Silver Cup. 

Charles Weerts: “It was a very good weekend in terms of pace and performance. We had an exceptional qualifying, with the three drivers posting the best lap time in their respective session, which is quite rare, and obviously getting the pole. In the race we were strong but then there was this downshift issue. It came quite early in the race, but then it seemed solved and all of a sudden it came back stronger, I only had third and fifth. It’s a shame, because the win was in our reach, but that too is racing.”

Benjamin Goethe: “It feels very good to be champions in the Silver Cup. It wasn’t the objective for this race, but now it’s done, despite losing 30 seconds in the first pit stop, but J-B and Thomas did a mega job to recover and the entire team kept spirits up.”

Thomas Neubauer: “We had a good qualifying and our goal was not to do mistakes and score heavy points for the championship. Eventually, we secured the Silver Cup title, which is great. We kept fighting after the long first pit stop we had and it paid off”.

Lewis Proctor: “We were happy with the pace and the team did a fantastic job. There was a lot of rubbing during the race and unfortunately our back wing got damaged. It took four laps to replace it and we lost a good result.”

Maxime Robin: “It’s not the result we had hoped before Arnold got touched in the first stint. P8 is the best we could do today, so the championship is over in the gold class and we will go for a race win at Barcelona.”

Nico Müller: “The race wasn’t that clean, a lot happened on the track. We had podium pace in terms of absolute performance, and Vale did again a mega job, he took another step forward. At the end, a good result, fifth, but still, it tastes bitter-sweet, as we could have been on the podium. It’s getting closer…”

Frédéric Vervisch: “It was a good weekend since free practice, the Audis were strong and us as well. We qualified well, it was a good race for us despite some little setbacks. Eventually, we didn’t get the podium, it will be for next time.”

Valentino Rossi: “It was a good race and a good weekend. On this track we were competitive. I did a mistake in my stint, went into the gravel, lost positions and then had a contact which cost us a 5-second penalty. Fred and Nico were very strong and recovered well. Unfortunately, we narrowly missed the podium, we will try again next time.”

GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – Round 4
Hockenheim, Germany – 3-4 September 2022

Race results:
1. Mies-Legeret-Niederhauser (Audi R8 LMS) 101 laps
2. Winkelhock-Schramm-Marschall (Audi R8 LMS) + 2s614
3. Bachler-Picariello-Cairoli (Porsche 911 R) +14s193
4. Engel-Stolz-Schothorst (Mercedes AMG) +15s037
5. Müller-Rossi-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS) +15s378
10. Goethe-Neubauer-Simmenauer (Audi R8 LMS) +29s905 (3rd Silver Cup)
24. A.Robin-M.Robin-Tomita (Audi R8 LMS) +1 lap (8th Gold Cup)
37. Hutchison-Menchaca-Proctor (Audi R8 LMS) +6 laps (12th Silver Cup)
DNF Vanthoor-van der Linde-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 31 laps (mechanical)

Photo: Michele Scudiero, Brecht Decancq

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