Britain brought again a very good result for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, as two of its Audis R8 LMS ultra finished on the podium, exactly as last year, and the third one took eighth, in the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series held at Silverstone. Stéphane Ortelli-Laurens Vanthoor-René Rast finished second, ahead of team mates Frank Stippler-Edward Sandström-Christopher mies, while Niki Mayr-Melnhof-Rahel Frey-Matt Halliday drove the 8th-placed car. It was once again a very strong team show, with the Audis R8 LMS ultra being beaten only by the newly-arrived works Aston Martin. These excellent results reinforce the position of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in both championships.
The weekend had started positively since free practice, with the three cars systematically in the top 12. Ortelli and Sandström topped Qualifying 1, with Vanthoor and Mies taking third in Q2 and Q3, respectively. Eventually, Mies was in P3 on the grid, Rast in P8 and Halliday in P11.
On a beautiful spring day, the start of the race saw WRT drivers on the very front. Mies was fourth, while Ortelli fought for 5th and Rahel Frey was 8th after gaining a couple of positions. In between laps 27 and 29, the three cars pitted in with Stippler, Vanthoor and Mayr-Melhnof taking the wheel. They ran in 2nd, 3rd and 6th position respectively, although the leading Aston Martin seemed unapproachable.
The # 1 Audi would eventually pass the sister car to lead the opposition to the Aston, with Vanthoor reducing somehow the gap to less than 20 seconds, while Mayr-Melnhof kept busy fighting in a lively group and had to concede two positions. “I think we have been managing our tires a little bit better”, said Ortelli in the pits, “and this has allowed us to get nearer the Aston, although it is not really thinkable to catch it up.”
The final hour brought little changes, with Rast, Sandström and Halliday basically preserving their assets, given also the fact that the Aston is not a championship contender.
The good day of the Belgian Audi Club was completed by the positive results obtained by other members: Enzo Ide and Anthony Kumpen (Phoenix Racing) came in ninth and Ronnie Lantinne finished in P27, on an R8 of the French team Saintéloc.
The next round of the Blancpain will take place at the Paul Ricard on 29-30 June, one month before the biggest event of the year, the Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Belgian Audi Club