The FIA GT1 World Championship is going to set history this weekend, as its next round will be the first FIA world event to take place on a circuit in Russia. The première reflects the growing interest of Russians for motorsports and the importance that this huge market is taking in the automotive world and motor racing. A brand new circuit means ‘unknown territory’ for everyone and this may bring very interesting and open races. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT sees this situation as an opportunity to do well and return to the podium, something that was shortly missed at the last event at the Slovakiaring, despite the excellent work of Stéphane Ortelli-Laurens Vanthoor, Frank Stippler-Oliver Jarvis and the entire team. The Belgian Audis R8 are really eager to get back where they should be…
Located in Volokolamskiy, 70 km North-West from the Red Square, the Moscow Raceway was inaugurated only a few weeks ago, with an event of the World Series FR 3.5, and it is hoped that the unavoidable technical problems that arose in that first event have been solved. The track is 3,931 meters long and has been designed by international expert Herman Tilke. No surprise, then, that it is a mix of fast and slower sections, with corners of almost all typology. “We will have to see how it works with GT cars in terms of rhythm”, says Laurens Vanthoor, “if the succession of braking and acceleration is not too harsh, it should suit the Audis.” The young Belgian, as his team mates, has tried to learn as much as possible about this unknown track, using TV footage and simulations, but has the advantage of having received direct advice from former single-seater colleagues that raced there in the inaugural event.
“We expect to be faced with some difficulties and it can’t be otherwise when you go to a brand new circuit, in a country where there is still little tradition of competition and event organization at this level”, explains WRT Sports Director Pierre Dieudonné, “Logistics are not easy either. It has been a long journey for our trucks, which traveled on convoy and under escort with the trucks of the other teams from the Russian border to the circuit, but so far everything is under control.” Weather conditions may also play a role, as predictions point to rainy and cold weather.
The objective, for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, is to do well and to aim at the podium. “We had a good pace in Slovakia two weeks ago and only external factors prevented to be on the podium”, continues Dieudonné, “I hope we can capitalize on that. The small weight compensations announced by the FIA ahead of this round could help, although they do not solve the fundamental issues with the balance of performance. What is sure is that, contrarily to others, our fighting spirit is intact. We are not in the best position in the two championships, but as long as we can make it, we’ll fight for them!”
The event will follow an unusual 2-day format schedule, with both the Qualifying Race and the Championship Race taking place on Sunday, at 9:15 and 13:15 respectively (in Central European time, which runs two hours behind Moscow’s time. Also to be noted is that as from this race the FIA GT1 World and the FIA GT3 Europe are merging grids.
Source: Belgian Audi Club