It was a very positive home race weekend for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, as it leaves Zolder with on win and three other podium finishes, after putting all three cars in the top five on both races.
Frank Stippler-Edward Sandström took a third today and a fifth yesterday, the same results that Nicky Mayr-Melnhof-André Rast obtained in reversed chronological order. The excellent weekend of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT was completed by the squad’s mechanics, who won today the Pit Stop Challenge, after putting again a faultless show during this crucial race phase and being the fastest team on the pit lane.
With this weekend’s great results, the Belgian Audi Club is strengthening its leading position in both the Drivers’ and Teams’ standings.
“We all want to win and we came very close to it today in the Main Race”, comments Team Principal Vincent Vosse, “Laurens tried everything in the closing laps, but he simply could not find the opening. So, congratulations to our rivals.
The win in the Main Race eluded us by a very close margin, and we can only be happy with the very good results we had over the weekend, which reinforce our positions in both championships.
Most of all, after these two first rounds of the series, we are proving competitive and consistent and this is encouraging in the championship’s perspective.”
Since the practice sessions, the Audis R8 LMS ultra seemed comfortable on the very technical Limburg track, with Vanthoor qualifying 4th, Stippler 7th and Rast 8th. The Qualifying Race saw the young Belgian taking second in the opening phase before attacking Rosina and claiming the lead in lap 12.
From there on, first place was secure and Stéphane Ortelli finished the race 10 seconds ahead of everybody. Third and on the podium were René Rast and Nicky Mayr-Melnhof.
The car was second just after the pit-stop but had to concede the position to the Lambo. Nicky Mayr-Melnhof, though, defended brilliantly his podium position until the end, while Stippler-Sandström took fifth.
In the Main Race on Sunday, the start was extremely closely-fought but the Lambo of Kox managed to squeeze on the inside of first corner, passing Ortelli.
“I know Laurens’ fans will hate me for this, but it was really a close one, and it would have been silly to try to close the door”, admitted the Monegasque.
In the first half of the race, Ortelli and Sandström remained extremely close to the leading car, while Mayr-Melnhof ran 10th.
After yet another an excellent pit stop, Vanthoor quickly catch Rosina and started a breath-taking duel with the Slovak, but despite all his attempts, he could never pass: “I tried everything I could, it was an exciting fight, always fair-play, but it was impossible to pass.
They were on shorter gear ratios and that gave them the extra something at the exit of the corners that allowed him to stay in front in the straights. I knew my only chance was at braking, and I almost succeeded in turn 2 in the last lap, but Rosina drove very well and did no mistake.
It’s always a little bit frustrating to get so close to victory in your home race, but that’s racing. It was important not to take risks and to think about the championship, which is the real objective.”
Stippler-Sandström kept their third position, finishing on the podium, after a race in which “the car felt much better than on Saturday, despite some little problems with the tires at the end of my stint”, as explained by the German driver.
The fifth spot rewarded today’s performance of Mayr-Rast, with the German putting on a beautiful battle with Kumpen during the second stint. “I was faster than him and eventually I managed to pass him with quite a clean move, after that my pace was pretty OK, we are happy with the weekend.”
The pair has now been confirmed in its “Pro” status, and put on their count the theoretical Pro points they would have gained at Nogaro. Their promotion entails that they are formally entered by Team WRT, as a team cannot have more than two cars entered in the series.
Sporting Director Pierre Dieudonné was a happy man after the race. “What a great job from our drivers and the entire team”, he said. “Today we saw an exciting battle, fought with great fair-play, that seduced fans at the track and at home. It’s the kind of race that makes you fall in love with the sports, regardless of the result.”
The other Belgian Audi Club member entered in the FIA GT Series, Anthony Kumpen, also had a very good weekend in front of his home fans. Together with Enzo Ide, at the wheel of the Phoenix Racing R8, he took 8th on Saturday and 6th today.
Belgian Audi Club Team