The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is thrilled about the prospect of racing in Brands Hatch and has been preparing thoroughly this special event.
The Blancpain Sprint Series is back for the second event of the season, with a stellar venue: Brands Hatch. The historic and legendary circuit in Kent, welcomes back a SRO-promoted series for the first time since 1996. The track, superbly preserved in almost its original form, is one of the landmark tracks in the world and one that really enhances driving abilities. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, as all Blancpain Sprint Series competitors, is thrilled about the prospect of racing there and has been preparing thoroughly this special event.
The season-opener at Nogaro left the Belgian squad with some mixed feelings: while the Audis R8 LMS ultra proved competitive and Laurens Vanthoor-César Ramos won the Qualifying race, the harvest could have been more positive without a couple of incidents that were analysed carefully once the team came back home.
The two pairs competing in the Gold Cup, Vanthoor-Ramos and Enzo Ide-René Rast are completely geared up to go for good results in England, while the young duo composed of Mateusz Lisowski and Vincent Abril is eager to reconfirm its excellent debut in France. The two young guns are not only leading the Silver Cup for ‘under 25’ drivers, but are lying third in the overall standings, having already tasted the satisfaction of a podium finish.
The team has had a thorough debrief after Nogaro to learn from the two incidents that have eliminated car #1 in the formation lap of the Main Race and car #2 after the Qualifying Race in France. “We have done our homework and addressed those points”, confirms Sporting Director Pierre Dieudonné, “and I am sure the team has come out with useful improvements.
Despite its drops, rises and bumps, Brands Hatch has a few similarities with Nogaro, so we think we should be OK there, although you never really know until the first free practice session. We did race there a round of the British GT last year, therefore we have some data to start from, but clearly, Brands Hatch will be some kind of novelty for a majority of teams and drivers.”
Most of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT drivers have indeed no experience on the Grand Prix configuration (the longer one) of Brands Hatch. This is the case of Laurens Vanthoor, who explains: “I have raced there in F.3 in 2010, but on the short track, which does not include the faster section. I am really anxious to be there as I consider Brands something like the Nordschleife, Bathurst or Macau, I mean circuits for big boys, where there is no room for mistakes.
I don’t think not knowing the entire track will be a big issue. At this level of competition, a driver is trained to learn a new circuit fast during free practice and get into the qualifying session fully familiarized with it. The only pole I took in FIA GT, I remember, was at Donington, when I visited it for the first time…”
The young Belgian, in any case, feels already perfectly at ease with César Ramos, his new team mate this season. “César is an excellent and fast driver”, remarks Vanthoor, “we already get along very well and it has been easy to do so. We have more or less the same age, the same approach and the same ambition. We share all the information and the working spirit is excellent, also with our crew, which is also quite new, with a new engineer and many new mechanics. The team has experienced many changes during the winter and I must say we have done a further step forward in terms of professionalism.”
Definitely looking for revenge will be the drivers of car #2, René Rast and Enzo Ide, who lost a podium finish conquered on the track in post-race verifications at Nogaro. For Ide too, Brands entails a special plus: “I really look forward to it”, says the young Belgian, “I have been training on simulator, but that is never as good as reality. From what I can say, the track reminds me of Portimão and Zandvoort, two tracks I like very much. René and I are extremely eager to do well. In France we proved that the package is competitive and we aim at repeating that. Since Nogaro, the team has been working a lot to optimize the car set-up, as in France we noticed the car was behaving differently with different sets of tires. I am confident this is now solved.”
The track will certainly be an additional challenge for the two youngsters in the team, Mateusz Lisowski and Vincent Abril, but the Pole and the Frenchman have proven at Nogaro that they aren’t afraid of anything and that their talent is a reality. “They simply have to continue to do what they have shown to be capable of”, underlines Vosse. “They did a wonderful job in France, taking already the lead in the Silver Cup and proving they are a force to be reckoned with also in the overall race results. It’s great for the team to have such fresh blood with us.”
The British round will follow an unusual format, as after free practice and qualifying on Saturday, the two races will take place on Sunday, with the first kicking-off at 10:30 and the second at 14:45 (local time).
Blancpain Sprint Series - Round 2
Brands Hatch, United Kingdom - 17-18 May 2014
Timetable (all times local = CET-1)
Saturday 17 May 2014
10:00-11:00 Free Practice 1
12:45-13:45 Free Practice 2
Sunday18 May 2014
10:30-11:30 Qualifying Race (1 hour)
14:45-15:45 Main Race (1 hour)
Belgian Audi Club