It wasn’t a lucky weekend for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in the penultimate round of the FIA GT1 World Championship. The Audis R8 ultra definitely had a good pace on the Eifel track and could hope to go home with more podium finishes than the second position obtained by Stéphane Ortelli-Laurens Vanthoor in Race 1. Unfortunately, a slower pit stop costed the victory to car #32 and a podium finish to Frank Stippler-Oliver Jarvis, eventually 7th. In Race 2, car #33 was ousted from the race in turn 1, while Ortelli-Vanthoor finished 6thafter having to stop with a punctured tire in the opening lap. Still, damages are reduced in the Championship standings, as the team reinforces its third place in the Teams’ rankings and Ortelli-Vanthoor remain fourth in the Drivers’ standings in the last round, at Donington Park, next weekend.

The Audis R8 LMS ultra proved competitive since the free practice sessions, with both cars qualifying well and fighting for the pole. Eventually, Vanthoor took second and Jarvis third on the grid. The Englishman seemed almost surprised of being in the top spots of the timing sheets, as he explained: “We have been struggling to find set-ups that give heat to the tires, the first laps on the track are really tricky, but I guess others are having the same problem”.

Qualifying race on Saturday saw two formation laps: when cars were released, Ortelli made a perfect kick-off, almost taking the lead at the first corner, but the race was neutralized seconds after, when Bleekemolen hit massively the barriers. The safety car pulled off after 15 minutes, and with the leading McLaren suffering a suspension failure, Ortelli and Stippler were leading the pack. Unfortunately, the pit stops did not turn out well for the Audis, with #32 rejoining second and the #33, further afield in 7th, because of a sticking wheelnut. These were also the final positions, with the first seven cars finishing within a narrow 15” window. There was, of course, some frustration in the Belgian camp, but Stéphane Ortelli remained philosophical about it: “It’s unfortunate we lost the lead at the pit stops, but we weren’t quick enough and the Lambo squeezed past. Our guys worked really hard, they were quick and efficient but our rivals were just quicker, so congratulations to them”, admitted the Monegasque with fair-play.

The Championship race on Sunday, unfortunately, was going to be even more frustrating, as car #33 had to retire at first corner, when Jarvis was sent off track by Pastorelli. The Brit was clearly disappointed: “My start was ok but after the first turn the Mercedes chopped across the front. I had nowhere to go and had to abandon due to suspension failure. Big disappointment for the whole team as the performance was ok this weekend. Hopefully Donington will be better!”, he concluded. Laurens Vanthoor, on car #32, was not really luckier, losing three s in lap 1. The reason became clearer as the Belgian pitted to replace a tire punctured by debris. Rejoining the race at the back of the field, the rest of the race for Vanthoor and Ortelli was devoted to climbing up positions, with the car eventually finishing in sixth, after the Monegasque signed the fastest lap.

Wrapping up the weekend, Team WRT Sports Director Pierre Dieudonné commented:

“It wasn’t a lucky weekend for us. We lost Race 1 in the pit stops and today, our two cars fell innocent victims of race incidents. It’s a pity because Laurens and Stéphane had a good tempo which should have most probably have led to a podium finish in normal circumstances. Anyway, the only good news is that Hexis, who were threatening us in the team standings, didn’t take any points so we’ll go to Donington to defend a final podium position in the championship.”

The British track will indeed host the closing event of the FIA GT1 World next weekend, and the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is determined to finish the season on a high.

GT1 World - Round 8

Nürburgring, Germany

22-23 September 2012

Results Race 1

1. Rosina-Kox (Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4) 28 laps in 1h00m53s948

2. Vanthoor-Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra) + 2s525

3. Winkelhock-Basseng (Mercedes SLS AMG) + 8s512

4. Buurman-Bartels (BMW Z4) + 8s962

5. Demoustier-Parente (McLaren MP4 12C) +12s507

7.Stippler-Jarvis (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +15s869

Results Race 2

1. Salaquarda-Vilander (Ferrari 458) 31 laps in 1h01m51s376

2. Winkelhock-Basseng (Mercedes SLS AMG) + 6s437

3. Rosuina-Kox (Lamborghini LP560-4) + 9s932

4. Bartels-Buurman (BMW Z4) +19s071

5. Lauda-Mayhr-Meinhof (BMW Z4) +33s481

6. Ortelli-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +51s272

DNF Jarvis-Stippler (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 0 laps (accident)

Drivers’ Championship Standings after Race 16 of 18

1. Winkelhock-Basseng 143 points

2. Buurman-Bartels 142

3. Düsseldorp-Makowiecki 110

4. Ortelli-Vanthoor 102

5. Pastorelli-Jaeger 87

6. Salaquarda-Vilander 80

6. Jarvis-Stippler 75

Teams’ Championship Standings after Race 16 of 18

  1. All-Inkl Münnich Motorsport 230 points
  2. Vita4One Racing Team 198

3. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 177

4. Hexis Racing 156

5. AF Corse 107

Next (and final) FIA GT1 Round

Donington Park (UK), 29-30 September 2012.

For more information on the FIA GT1 World: