The fifth round of the season will take place on the shores of the Atlantic.
Two weeks after a lively event in Slovakia, the Blancpain Sprint Series is back at the other end of Europe, as the fifth round of the season will take place on the shores of the Atlantic, in the hilly and beautiful Autódromo do Algarve. It is still full summer in Southern Portugal at this time of the year, so it can be expected that warm weather will add to the technical difficulties of the track.
With only two events left after this round, Portimão is bound to clarify the situation with regard to the bid for the titles. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has retaken the lead in the Teams’ standings, but needs something like a perfect weekend to stay in the race on the Drivers’ rankings.
Currently, the best-placed of the team’s pairs is the one composed by Enzo Ide and René Rast, who lie fourth in the standings, 34 points from the top, with Laurens Vanthoor and César Ramos in a more challenging position after the misfortunes in the Main Race at Bratislava.
I definitely like Portimão and it’s there that I won my first race for WRT, in the European GT3 Series back in 2011, so I hope this is a good sign.
Enzo IdeMateuz Lisowski
In the Silver Cup, and Vincent Abril will defend their strong leadership, while the fourth car of the team will see Fabian Hamprecht’s second outing with WRT, alongside Stéphane Ortelli.
Team Principal Vincent Vosse has a clear view on the objective for the weekend: “We need something like a perfect weekend. So far, in the Sprint Series, we have often been doing very well in qualifying and in the Qualifying Race, but we have been missing great results and heavy points in the Main Races, for a variety of reasons, not always under our control.
We need to put all the pieces of the puzzle in the right place again, like we did many times in the past, and for sure, we are capable of doing it. I don’t know how competitive we will be in Portimão: it is not the track we know best and we haven’t raced there last year. As we all know, it is a great track but not easy. Still, we go there determined to fight hard.”
We have been doing poles and podiums, but haven’t been very successful in the Main Races lately, because of small mistakes, race incidents, bad luck or whatever that was.
Car #2 of Enzo Ide and René Rast, as said, is the best-placed in the standings and both drivers are determined to play all their cards: “We will do the utmost to reduce the gap”, says Enzo, “it’s of course a pity that we left some good points in the way in Slovakia, but I hope that we are done with our share of bad luck…I definitely like Portimão and it’s there that I won my first race for WRT, in the European GT3 Series back in 2011, so I hope this is a good sign.”
The other young Belgian of the squad, Laurens Vanthoor is less optimistic about his and César Ramos’ chances, but equally determined to do well. “The situation in the championship doesn’t reflect our competitiveness and that is of course frustrating”, he admits, “We have been doing poles and podiums, but haven’t been very successful in the Main Races lately, because of small mistakes, race incidents, bad luck or whatever that was. We have to be realistic: it is going to be very difficult to make up the gap, but you never know, you have to try until the very end. And we definitely have to go for the Teams’ title!”
In the Silver Cup, the two Belgian Audi Club Team WRT young guns, Vincent Abril and Mateusz Lisowski, may be enjoying a more comfortable position, as they are strong leaders in the standings, but their motivation remains higher than ever. Looking at what achieved so far in the season, Vincent Abril reflects: “It has been a positive year so far, I think we have done a good job. We knew after winter testing that we had the right speed, what we didn’t have is the experience, but that’s coming! It’s really nice to be in a team like WRT, where you are and feel totally supported.
That reflects on the performance and makes things much easier. With Mateusz Lisowiski, we complement each other perfectly, you can say he is a more aggressive kind of driver than me, and that I am the wiser of the two, although being younger than him! Portimão is yet another track we don’t know, so we’ll try to make maximum use of the free practice sessions. The objective is to do well in the Silver Cup but also in the overall results. I fear the heat a little bit, I much prefer racing in cool conditions, and I wouldn’t mind a storm to break out at some point…”
The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT will have on the grid another very young gun, as Fabian Hamprecht will perform his second and last scheduled outing with the team, alongside Stéphane Ortelli on the #9 car. The young German is certainly eager to make the most out of this opportunity: “We showed good pace and consistency throughout changing conditions in Slovakia but unfortunately race incidents stopped us, so I really look forward to a good performance at Portimão, a track I don’t know.
For me, it has been an honour to have the possibility of doing two races for such a professional and successful team as WRT, and I thank them for the support. If things come together nicely, I would be delighted of further cooperating in the future.”
The Portuguese round will follow a traditional format, with the Qualifying Race kicking off on Saturday afternoon at 13:45 and the Main Race taking place Sunday at 14:45, at local time, Portugal being one hour behind with respect to Central Europe.
Belgian Audi Club Team