Mission accomplished! The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has achieved the objective sought, to conquer the double title of the second edition of the Blancpain Endurance Series. In a dramatic season finale in Navarra, where the race had to be neutralized and then shortened because of torrential rain, the Belgian squad secured its second Teams’ title in the series, while Stéphane Ortelli-Christopher Mies-Christopher Haase took the Drivers’ crown, succeeding former Team WRT driver Greg Franchi in the roll of honour.
Despite the pouring rain, there were obvious celebrations and accolades in the team’s pits just after the race. Still a little bit stunned by the success, Team Principal Vincent Vosse was struggling to find the right words: “We made it, and it’s fantastic for all of us, at Audi and in the team! This is really the best reward for all the good and hard work put by the drivers and the entire team during the entire season. We can be proud of the achievement and of the progress shown. It has been a tough weekend. Although we were competitive since the beginning, gaps have been always so close that nobody could foresee the outcome. The race then has been a nice fight, where we have always been in front of our main rival, and the final part of the race, under the deluge and behind the safety car, has not changed anything, although it would have been nice to have a normal end of the season. Our three cars performed extremely well and the final result says how vital it has been, from a strategic point of view, to enter a third car. I also want to congratulate our friends of the Marc VDS team, who have done a terrific season and must be now disappointed to lose the title for such a short margin. But that’s sports…”
Things had started well, with the three Audis qualifying in the top 12 and the Marc VDS BMW, leading the Drivers’ standings, having to take P15 on the grid because a 10-places penalty resulting from the previous race.
The sky is grey and threatening at the start of the race on Sunday afternoon, but the track still dry. Albuquerque, on car #6, leads the Audis’ assault, stabilizing in third position after 20 laps, with Mies 7th on car #1, while Bonanomi on the #2 is fighting with the direct rival car, driven by Leinders. The Italian will lose the position on lap 30, but a great first pit stop by the WRT team puts the Audi back in front of the BMW. At the beginning of the second stint, Haase is third just in front of Stippler, with Sandström in seventh.
By the half-race mark, some drops of rain start to fall. It will become harder shortly before the second pit stop, which goes with no hiccups for the Audis. Ortelli is now third ahead of Jarvis, while Vanthoor makes a spin. As rain becomes torrential, the safety car is deployed shortly after the second-hour mark. Positions, of course, do not change, but the race is definitely red-flagged few minutes before its natural end, as a number of cars are off-track or trapped in the gravel, including Vanthoor’s.
“It was about time!”, commented the newly-crowned Stéphane Ortelli, “it was becoming difficult to stay on the track and visibility was very poor. I was counting down the minutes left. Still, the car was very good in these difficult conditions and we did great pit stops. These two titles are really the result of a team’s effort and belong to everyone at WRT! I want to thank my team mates, “the Christophers” and say that I feel really proud to be part of such a squad! I think the turning point of the championship has been the success at the Paul Ricard. That day we proved, first of all to ourselves, that the BMW could be beaten, and since then we have been ahead of them.”
The international season of the Belgian Audi Club is now finished and the sight already on 2013…
Source: Belgian Audi Club Team WRT