It was a sweet-and-sour fifth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT at the Nürburgring: while the team had hoped in better results, it finds itself in a much better position for the titles’ battle ahead of the final round.
Christopher Haase-Christopher Mies-Stéphane Ortelli took fourth place today in the Eifel, with team mates Marco Bonanomi-Edaward Sandström-Laurens Vanthoor finishing 6th among Pro cars.
The perfect situation thus to have a thrilling final and decisive round in Spain three weeks from now!
“It is a little bit paradoxical”, admits Team Principal Vincent Vosse, “we are much better off in the championship than when we arrived here, although we haven’t done particularly well. We lacked a little bit of performance, which on the contrary we had in the GT1 races.
Without the accident to the Marc VDS team, the championship would be over. But that’s racing, and you have to accept things as they come, the bad and the good ones.
The conclusion is that we’ll work full steam ahead in the forthcoming days to go to Spain perfectly geared and determined to fight for both titles!”
It was a mixed qualifying for the Belgian Audis, as car #2 took fourth (which become 3rd on the grid after a competitor was penalized), while car #1, tangled in traffic, could only achieve the 17th fastest time.
During the first lap, Bonanomi (#2) lost a couple of positions while Mies (#1) gained six, with both cars stabilizing in P6 and P11 in the first phase of the race, until the safety car was forced out by the big shunt of Hayek’s Lamborghini.
The Audis delayed the first pit stop, and from there on they started climbing positions gently. The turn of the race came on lap 37, when the VDS BMW #3 hit the barriers and retired, which prompted a change of strategy for car #1.
“I saw Palttala stuck in the gravel with a severely damaged car and I knew it was retirement for them”, explains Christopher Haase, then at the wheel of the car, “From then on, it became clear that the priority was to score heavy points for the championship, so we avoided taking risks and adopted a safe pace.” Ortelli eventually brought the car to fourth place.
Car #2 was making an excellent race, with Sandström taking over from Bonanomi and putting a couple of breath-taking overtakes, but the Swede’s pit stop turned sour by virtue of a fire blazing in the pit next WRT’s. “When I was driving in the pit lane, it looked a total mess.
There was smoke and a lot of people everywhere, so I missed the pit and we lost quite some time”, explains the Swede. Vanthoor then regained some positions to take the points of sixth place in the Pro category.
In the overall standings, though, things looked much better, with the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT taking the lead in the Teams” standings and Ortelli-Mies-Haase reducing to only three the points gap with respect to the leaders. Mid-October, the last and decisive round in Navarra will be hot!
Source: Belgian Audi Club Team WRT