Belgian Audi Club WRT keeps points leadership after difficult GT1 weekend

FIA GT1 World – Zolder Race Report                                   

There are not two race weekends alike: this old law of motorsports got proved once again in the second round of the FIA GT1 World Championship. After a stunning double one-two win in the opening round in Nogaro, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT lived a difficult weekend at home in Zolder. A wrong choice of tires left the Audis R8 LMS ultra of Jarvis-Stippler and Vanthoor-Ortelli out of the points in Race 1, while in Race 2, in their effort to climb up positions, the two cars had a contact, finishing 6th and 10th. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, however, retains the leadership in both the Drivers’ and Teams’ standings, ahead of the third round in one month time.  

This, and the fact that the team was able to significantly improve the handling of the car throughout the sessions, were the positive aspects of a frustrating home event, marked by alternating and unpredictable weather conditions that posed a serious challenge to everybody.  The Audis qualified well, on a damp track, with Stippler-Jarvis signing the second-fastest time (which became the pole when pole-setter Halliday got sanctioned with three positions on the grid) and Ortelli-Vanthoor in fifth. 

The start of Race 1 was given after a sudden shower, with the track completely wet and everybody on rain tires. Jarvis kept second position throughout his stint, behind Peter Kox, who was given a stop-and-go penalty for having jumped the start, while Ortelli took a cautious start and later settled in 7th position. Track conditions changed dramatically during the pit stop window, but by the time the two Belgian Audis stopped, the switch to slick tires was not the most obvious option and both cars put on rain tires. Stippler and Vanthoor rejoined the race in first and fourth position, respectively, but it took only a few minutes to realize that the track was drying fast and a second pit stop was necessary for both cars, which eventually ended 11th and 12th, respectively.

“It was a mistake and we have to admit it collectively as a team”, commented Team Principal Vincent Vosse. “Drivers and management took together the decision to stay on wet tires, and it was the wrong one. The drivers were maybe not too assertive on what the track conditions were, and the pit wall may have been too conservative… We will analyze what happened and correct the way we communicate via radio in such moments, when you have to take fast decision. We win and we lose together…”

Race 2 on Sunday brought at least some useful points. The race started on a damp but drying track. This time, the tire choice (slick) was correct and so was the choice to pit as late as possible, as Jarvis and Ortelli were 4th and 6th respectively at the beginning of the second half of the race. A slight off-track of Jarvis brought the two Audis together later in the race and in the heath for climbing up positions, there was a contact between the two cars. ./..

Eventually, Ortelli-Vanthoor took 6th and Jarvis-Stippler 10th. “It’s never pleasant to have a race incident between the two cars of the team”, commented Sporting Director Pierre Dieudonné, “but these things may happen when you have top level drivers that are true racers. Nobody wants taxi-drivers that wait for orders!”

Following a very intense start of the season, the team will now have some weeks for working at the factory and for drawing lessons before heading, as championship leaders, to Navarra in Spain for the third round of the FIA GT1 World on 25-27 May.

GT1 World - Round 2Zolder, Belgium20-22 April 2012

Results Race 1

1. Bartels-Buurman (BMW Z4) 36 laps in 1h00m41s9282. Jaeger-Pastorelli (Mercedes SLS AMG) + 0s5673. Halliday-Parisi (Porsche 911 R) + 20s5784. Makowiecki-Dusseldorp (McLaren MP4) +21s1195. Lauda-Mayr-Meinhof (BMW Z4) +21s46211. Stippler-Jarvis (Audi R8 LMS)   +1m10s25512. Ortelli-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS)  +1m39s628

Results Race 2

1. Halliday-Parisi (Porsche 911 R)  36 laps in 1h00m32s9532. Bartels-Buurman (BMW Z4) + 1s0303. Vilander-Salaquarda (Ferrari 458) +17s2564. Jaeger-Pastorelli (Mercedes SLS AMG) +29s0705. Makowiecki-Dusselsorp (McLaren MP4) +29s5806. Ortelli-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS)   +29s90010. Stippler-Jarvis (Audi R8 LMS)  +38s885

Drivers’ Championship Standings after Race 4 of 20

1. Ortelli-Vanthoor        41 points2. Parisy-Halliday                   313. Jaeger-Pastorelli                   304. Bartels-Buurman                   275. Jarvis-Stippler, Vilander-Salaquarda     24

Teams’ Championship Standings after Race 4 of 20

1. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT      66 points2. All-Inkl Münnich Motorsport                 493. AF Corse                    354. Exim Team China                   315. Vita4One Racing Team       29

Next FIA GT1 Round

Navarra (ES), 25-27 May 2012.