As anticipated, the Slovak round of the FIA GT1 World Championship proved challenging for the Audis R8 LMS ultra of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, but the drivers of the Belgian squad managed to salvage some useful points from the struggle. In a track not favorable to the R8s, further penalized by the current balance of performance, Oliver Jarvis-Frank Stippler took a 6th and a 5th in the two races, while StéphaneOrtelli-Laurens Vanthoor were 6th in Race 2, despite being handicapped by a poor top speed. The feeling among team members on Sunday afternoon was that little more could be done, under the circumstances…
“It’s exactly that”, confirms Sports Director Pierre Dieudonné, “we did the best we could, and although there is a little sense of frustration, we are satisfied to bring home good points and have the impression that we have done the maximum we could. It was a solid race from our drivers, who have the merit to never give up, and of the entire team, but when you are penalized in top speed, there is little more that you can do. It’s something that handicaps you at the start, in every re-acceleration at the exit of corners, in the straights, everywhere. It is very difficult to win duels and overtake in these conditions, so the only thing you can do is to defend, and that’s what we did.”
The first qualifying sessions had been quite positive for the Audis; eventually, Frank Stippler put the #33 in P4 on the grid, while the #32 was eighth, after StéphaneOrtelli went off at high speed but with little damage in his first flying lap.
At the start of Race 1, under warm and humid weather, Vanthoor lost several positions, finishing his stint in 11th, while Jarvis retained an interesting P4. The second stint sawOrtelli battling with the Lambos and Bartels, stabilizing in P10 before the rain started to fall. An off-track definitely killed the points hopes of the #32, which was then called to the pits to put wet tires. It eventually finished 11th. On the #33, Stippler couldn’t contain the assaults of three rivals with faster cars in the re-acceleration sectors, but thanks to two retirements, the German kept a good 6th position, despite a slight off-track on the slippery surface in the last lap.
Race 2 was a little bit more comforting, as both cars managed to finish in the top 6. It was a difficult start for car #33, with Stippler englued among quicker cars and lying in 13th position in the initial laps. On the contrary, Ortelli, on the #32, managed to pass a couple of rivals to stabilize in 6th position. The Monegasque then had two fierce duels with Parisy first and Ide later, coming into the pits for the driver change, at the very end of the window, in P8. Stippler had been among the first ones to come in, and thanks to a timely and perfect pit stop, the car gained a few positions, starting the second stint in P6. Jarvis gained one more position to finish 5th, and the same did Laurens Vanthoor right behind him. The young Belgian gave life to a very lively duel with the second Vita4One BMW, whom he eventually passed.
The race calendar of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT now foresees a two-week break before the next race, which will be the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, at the end of the month, at the Circuit Paul Ricard, in France.
GT1 World - Round 4Slovakiaring, Slovakia9-10 June 2012
Results Race 1
1. Salaquarda-Vilander (Ferrari 458) 25 laps in 1h01m26s5482. Enge-von Thurn (Lamborghini Gallardo LP560) + 4s5683. Bartels-Buurman (BMW Z4) +16s1064. Basseng-Winkelhock (Mercedes SLS AMG) +19s7775. Halliday-Parisy (Porsche 911 RSR) +26s6936. Jarvis-Stippler (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +37s84711. Ortelli-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +1m21s780
Results Race 2
1. Bartels-Buurman (BMW Z4) 29 laps in 1h01m24s8662. Makowiecki-Dusseldorp (McLaren MP4) + 2s9513. Basseng-Winkelhock (Mercedes SLS AMG) + 5s6004. Salaquarda-Vilander (Ferrari 458) +17s2605. Jarvis-Stippler (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +30s5116. Ortelli-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +33s464
Drivers’ Championship Standings after Race 8 of 20
1. Bartels-Buurman 70 points2. Makowiecki-Dusseldorp 64 3. Basseng-Winkelhock 574. Ortelli-Vanthoor 505. Salaquarda-Vilander 476. Jäger-Pastorelli 477. Jarvis-Stippler 40Teams’ Championship Standings after Race 8 of 20
1. All-InklMünnich Motorsport 104 points2. Hexis McLaren 913. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 904. Vita4One Racing Team 865. AF Corse 59
Next FIA GT1 Round
Autódromo do Algarve, Portimão (Portugal), 7-8 July 2012.