“We couldn’t even dream such an end of the season”: happiness was all over in the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT stand at the end of a Baku weekend that was simply perfect.
After dominating Qualifying, the Audis R8 LMS ultra of the Belgian squad brought home both the Qualifying and the Main Races with Laurens Vanthoor and César Ramos, finally breaking the “Sunday jinx”. The great collective success translated in bringing home no less of five titles of the six still open: as a team, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT won the Blancpain GT Series overall crown, as well as the ones in the Sprint and Silver Cup competitions. Among drivers, Mateusz Lisowski and Vincent Abril secured the Silver Cup for under-25 drivers but, most of all, Laurens Vanthoor succeeded in clinching the Blancpain GT Series overall honours. All these titles add to the two in the Blancpain Endurance Series (Teams and Drivers) already conquered and to the win at the Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps to form an extraordinary 2014 harvest that will be difficult to repeat
Team Principal Vincent Vosse was almost dizzy as partying broke out in the team’s pit in the Azeri capital’s street track: “It’s an incredible result! To go back with five titles is beyond any expectation, I don’t know what to say… What is most rewarding is that finally we could win on Sunday, and both races, as they were exceptionally scheduled both on Sunday. The team did a fantastic work to get the kind of result we needed, I have no words to congratulate and thank everybody, the drivers, the engineers, the mechanics, everybody. And it wasn’t easy, as we had to rebuild the car of Abril-Lisowski in the night, working until 5 am, and change the engine on Rast-Ide’s machine in-between races, which was done in a record 1h35! What a season, it is going to be hard to repeat this!”
The Audis R8 LMS ultra of the Belgian squad already made a great impression in qualifying, with Stéphane Ortelli clinching a superb pole on the half-damp track, right ahead of Laurens Vanthoor completing the first row after having been the fastest in free practice under the rain. “I was disappointed to hear on the radio I was in P2”, admitted the Belgian, “but when I heard the pole was for my good friend and former team mate Stéphane, my disappointment was almost gone!”. The Monegasque, on his side, could not hide his satisfaction: : “The track is very intense, with little room for error. I have raced on a fair share of street circuits in my career and I have to say that this one is very exciting.”
Enzo Ide on car #2 took P20 while Vincent Abril lived almost a nightmare after doing a mistake on the treacherous track and hitting the wall half-way in Q1, with the car reporting heavy damage.
The Qualifying Race, early on Sunday morning, started with dry buy chilly conditions, with Ortelli keeping the advantage over Vanthoor, while an accident at the back prompts the safety-car out. It is the pit stops changing the positions in the lead, with the Lambo exiting first but Ramos passing him soon after at the hairpin, as Rast completes the fabulous catch-up initiated by Ide taking car #2 from P19 in lap 1 to P3 under the flag after passing team mate Richelmi, who regains P3 when the engine of car #2 weakens in the final lap. No luck again for the Team WRT youngsters, as a gearbox problem stops the car shortly after the driver change in a race spent at the back of the field.
Vanthoor and Ramos were clearly in the ideal position for the Main Race, but the Belgian was not thinking about the overall Blancpain GT Series Drivers’ title: “With a 23-point gap, it is going to be very difficult, things are not entirely in our hands!”.
The team, for sure, kept busy in-between races, as they decided to change the engine on the car of Rast-Ide, which gave signs of fatigue at the end of Race A1. The operation was done in a record 1 hour and 35 minutes! The intervention, though, caused car #2 to start from the back of the grid, as per the championship rules.
Ramos kept the lead at the start, with Richelmi third, while Abril started from the pitlane because of a late technical adjustment to be made. The hero of the initial laps was without no doubts René Rast, who after 6 laps was already in P8! Unfortunately, the German got tangled with Götz when fighting for 7th with both cars touching the walls and having to retire.
Pit stop went without any trouble for the leading R8, while car #9 lost some valuable time, with Ortelli having to concede one position to Winkelhock ten minutes from the end. With Vanthoor keeping his cool on a track quite greasy, the Belgian takes a brilliant win and the title, with also Lisowski securing the Silver Cup by bringing to the finishing line a car #4 far from being in good shape.
For Vanthoor, the unexpected had just happened! “I’m very happy! We finally managed to win a Main Race! The 100.000€ prize money is the icing on the cake and of course I’m very happy to have clinched the overall GT-title. I hope to continue with the team next year as they proved to be the best by winning so much this season!”
This year’s success leaves the ladder quite high for next season for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, but 2015 will be taken care in due course. It is now time for some-well deserved celebrations!
Blancpain Sprint Series - Round 7
1-2 November 2014
Qualifying Race Result :
1. Ramos-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 34 tours en 1h00m44s
2. Adam-Soucek (Aston Martin Vantage) +1s726
3. Ortelli-Richelmi (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +16s535
4. Ide-Rast (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +30s353
5. Ragginger-Holzer (Porsche 997 GT3 R) +49s107
17. Lisowski-Abril (Audi R8 LMS ultra) DNF (Silver Cup)
Main Race Result :
1. Vanthoor-Ramos (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 35 laps in 1h00m12s112
2. Soucek-Adam (Aston Martin Vantage) +2s225
3. Mayer Melnhof – Winkelhock (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +22s380
4. Richelmi-Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +30s245
5. Ragginger-Holzer (Porsche 997 GT3 R) +38s236
17. Lisowski-Abril (Audi R8 LMS ultra) + 6 laps (3. Silver Cup)
DNF Rast-Ide (Audi R8 LMS ultra) + 33 laps Accident
Final Drivers’ standings Blancpain GT Series after Round 12 of 12:
1. Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 200 points
2. Buhk (Mercedes SLS) 190
3. Götz (Mercedes SLS) 160
4. Ramos (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 157
5. Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 120
6. Ide-Rast (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 114
Final Drivers’ standings (Pro Cup) after Round 7 of 7 :
1. Götz (Mercedes SLS) 142 points
2. Buhk (Mercedes SLS) 126
3. Bleekemolen-Proczyk (Lambo FLII) 115
4. Vanthoor-Ramos (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 100
5. Ide-Rast (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 71
6. Bueno-Jimenez (BMW Z4) 55
7. Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 57
… Abril-Lisowski (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 28
Final Drivers’ standings (Silver Cup) after Round 7 of 7 :
1. Lisowski-Abril (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 174 points
2. Colombo-Fumanelli (BMW Z4) 154
3. Toril (Mercedes SLS) 143
Final Teams’ standings Blancpain GT Series after Round 12 of 12:
1. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 284 points
2. HTP Motorsport 236
3. Grasser Racing Team 121
4. Saintéloc Racing 78
Final Teams’ standings (Pro Cup) after Round 7 of 7 :
1. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 193 points
2. HTP Motorsport 146
3. Grasser Racing Team 121
4. BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil 72
5. BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert 50
Final Teams’ standings (Silver Cup) after Round 7 of 7 :
1. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 174 points
2. ROAL Motorsport 154
3. Fortec Motorsport 132
4. HTP Motorsport 79