Two podium for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in Portugal

It was a positive weekend for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT at Portimão for the fifth round of the Blancpain Sprint Series, but not the perfect one that the squad had sought. Enzo Ide-René Rast took 3rd in the Qualifying Race and 5th in the Main Race but have lost ground in the Drivers’ standings, while Laurens Vanthoor-César Ramos crossed the line in a nice 2nd in the Main Race and were 4th on Saturday. Unfortunately, their 2nd on Sunday became a 9th after a post-race penalty of 30” imposed on Vanthoor for overtaking outside a white line. That promoted Fabian Hamprecht-Stéphane Ortelli into 3rd, while Mateusz Lisowski-Vincent Abril keep the lead in the Silver Cup, after taking another race win in the class on Saturday. Still, the main take-away from this weekend in the Algarve is that the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is still in full contention for the Teams’ title, with only two round (Zolder and Baku) still to be raced.

“We go away with some good results but none of the cars had the perfect weekend we had been dreaming of”, concludes Team Principal Vincent Vosse, “and therefore we are a little bit frustrated. It looks like that this season it is difficult to put all the pieces together for one of our teams throughout an entire weekend. But there were good things here too, like the two podiums and the win in the Silver Cup in Race 1, and although our best-placed car in the Drivers’ championship has seen the point gap from the top increase, we need to look at the positive: we are fighting for the title in the Teams’ standings and leading the Silver Cup, and these are the key objectives for the remainder of the season.”

The Audis R8 LMS ultra were at ease on the difficult and technical Portuguese track, but “we lack some straight line speed for sure”, as indicated by Enzo Ide.In qualifying, Rast took third, with Ortelli and Vanthoor sharing third row and Lisowski in P12.

The Qualifying Race was relatively uneventful for the #2 and #1 cars, with Rast keeping the third position of the grid throughout his stint, while Vanthoor gained fourth when he passed a Lambo. After the pit stops, Ide and Ramos completed the job, finishing third and fourth respectively. For car #9, the start had been more hectic as Ortelli was involved in typical first lap action, being forced to an off-track and jumping on kerb, which broke one of his wheels forcing him to a pit stop that cost a full lap. Car #4 kept leadership in the Silver Cup throughout the race, stabilizing in P8 overall. Vincent Abril improved that two laps from the end, with a beautiful overtake on Thomas Jäger. “There was additional reason to try to pass Thomas”, admitted the Frenchman, “as I had my main rival in the Silver Cup right behind me and pushing! It went well and that gave me some breathing space”.

Again in warm and humid conditions, the Main Race did not start ideally for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT machines, as the #4 was immediately lost in lap 1 after Abril got in contact with a Mercedes, which prompted the safety car into the track. Ide and Ramos hadn’t had the best of starts and things got worse when the Belgian had to go off-track to avoid hitting seriously his team mate. “It was in a fast corner and I think César’s gearbox went into neutral. There was nowhere I could go except out of the track to avoid a shunt!”, explained Enzo.

The three R8s arrived at the pit stop in P6 (Ramos), P8 (Hamprecht, who had passed Zanardi with a nice move) and P15 (Ide). Vanthoor, Ortelli and Rast would charge hard in their stint to climb through the field successfully. Two laps from the end, Vanthoor outbrakes Bleekemolen for P2 in spectacular fashion, while Ortelli finishes fourth and Rast sixth. After the race, though, a 30-second penalty was imposed on Vanthoor, for having gone out of limit tracks when overtaking Bleekemolen. Sporting Director Pierre dieudonné was philosophical about it: “Laurens hadn’t received any warning prior to this incident and he was a half second faster than Bleekemolen, he would have passed him anyway, but OK, we accept the decision…”

The Blancpain Sprint Series’ next round will be at home, as it will take place in Zolder on 18-19 October. In the meantime, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT will participate in the Nürburgring 1000 kms, on 20-21 September, the final and decisive round of the Endurance championship.

Blancpain Sprint Series - Round 5

Autódromo do Algarve, Portimão, Portugal

6-7 September 2014

Qualifying Race Result :

1. Proczyk-Bleekemolen (Lambo FLII) 32 laps in 1h01m29s099

2. Götz-Buhk (Mercedes SLS) + 0s819

3. Rast-Ide (Audi R8 LMS ultra) + 4s061

4. Vanthoor-Ramos (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +10s658

5. Afanasiev-Dusseldorp (Mercedes SLS) +12s626

7. Lisowski-Abril (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +23s966 (1. Silver Cup)

17. Hamprecht-Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra) + 1 lap

Main Race Result :

1. Götz-Buhk (Mercedes SLS) 33 laps in

2. Proczyk-Bleekemolen (Lambo FLII) +11s576

3. Hamprecht-Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +23s435

4. Rusinov-Enge (Lambo FLII) +23s753

5. Ide-Rast (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +26s407

9. Vanthoor-Ramos (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +40s332

DNF Lisowski-Abril (Audi R8 LMS ultra) Accident

Provisional Drivers’ standings (Pro Cup) after Round 5 of 7 :

1. Götz (Mercedes SLS) 116 points

2. Buhk (Mercedes SLS) 100

3. Bleekemolen-Proczyk (Lambo FLII) 93

4. Ide-Rast (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 65

5. Bueno-Jimenez (BMW Z4) 51

6. Baumann-Jäger (BMW Z4) 45

7. Vanthoor-Ramos (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 41

8. Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 36

… Abril-Lisowski (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 28

Provisional Drivers’ standings (Silver Cup) after Round 5 of 7 :

1. Lisowski-Abril (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 131 points

2. Colombo-Fumanelli (BMW Z4) 117

3. Toril (Mercedes SLS) 84

4. Wolf-Stolz (Mercedes SLS) 53

Provisional Teams’ standings (Pro Cup) after Round 5 of 7 :

1. HTP Motorsport 116 points

2. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 110

3. Grasser Racing Team 99

4. BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil 66

5. BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert 50