Four Audi R8 LMS ultra entered in the Blancpain Sprint Series and three in the Blancpain Endurance SeriesNew Audi R8 LMS to join in selected enduro eventsDriver line-ups combine experience and youth, with Robin Frijns and Jean-Karl Vernay as most recent stellar additionsVanthoor-Winkelhock-Rast to defend their title at Total 24 Hours of Spa
The 2015 GT season is about to start and the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is ready to take up the challenge of doing as well, or possibly better, than in 2014! The Belgian squad closed 2014 with an impressive string of titles, which included double (Drivers’ and Teams’) titles in the overall Blancpain GT Series, the Blancpain Endurance Series and in the Silver Cup of the Blancpain GT Series, where it also clinched the Teams’ honours in the Pro Cup. Last but not least, it conquered a resounding win in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, undisputedly the most prestigious GT race in the world. Defending all these titles will be a challenging task but also a very exciting one!
The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is prepared for the endeavour, as shown today in its premises in Baudour, Belgium where the 2015 racing programme was unveiled to the press. The entire team is proud to embark in what is the sixth year of partnership between the Belgian Audi Club, Team WRT and the Audi brand, and also the sixth consecutive season in SRO-promoted championships. With a renewed and strengthened driver line-up, the outfit is more committed than ever to excellence and thrilled to have soon the possibility of taking to the track the new generation of the Audi R8 LMS racer.
Team Principal Vincent Vosse today summed up the mood of his troops: “We are anxious to be on the track again after the winter break. We have been recently testing at the Paul Ricard and twice at Misano Adriatico, but we look forward to the adrenalin that only real racing can give. We are ready and extremely motivated. I am proud of the work that everybody has done during this preparation phase and I am also proud of the excellent line-ups we have put together. They represent, I believe, a perfect combination of experience and youth. We are very happy to have a family of drivers that have been many years with us, such as Ortelli, who is part of the team since the very beginning in 2010,
Stippler, Vanthoor, Ide, Mies or Sandström, and also to having been able to attract people of the likes of Richelmi, Frijns and Vernay, just to make some names, who bring much-valued fresh blood. Both things mean a lot to us.“
Vosse goes on: “Clearly, 2015 will be an interesting season. On one hand, we have the very exciting task to defend many titles after a very successful 2014 campaign; on the other, it will be a year of transition, as the new generation of the Audi R8 LMS comes gradually into the scene. I am sure it will represent a significant step forward, in terms of performance and reliability, as the new car is the fruit of everything Audi engineers have learnt in the past years, and it is a privilege for us to have the possibility to run the new car in selected events. It is also a key year for Team WRT, as we have expanded into new arenas, successfully debuting in ice races at the Trophée Andros over the winter, or assisting a Japanese team in preparing the R8 LMS ultra they bought from us and that will race in the Japanese GT300 series.”
While the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has further strengthened its staff, key top managers have not changed, with René Verbist overseeing all technical aspects and Pierre Dieudonné and Thierry Tassin sharing sporting directorship duties. The squad is therefore perfectly fit to embark on the racing programme outlined below.
Blancpain Sprint Series
The team will enter in the 7 rounds of the Blancpain Sprint Series four Audis R8 LMS ultra, all in the Pro category. Car #1 will be entrusted to Laurens Vanthoor and Robin Frijns, with the Belgo-Dutch 23-year-old driver and former FR 3.5 Champion doing his debut in GT racing. Car #2 will be for Enzo Ide-Christopher Mies, with the two “Stéphanes of Monaco”, Ortelli and Richelmi, sharing car #3 and Frank Stippler-James Nash pairing in car #4.
Blancpain Endurance Series
Three cars will be also entered in the Blancpain Endurance Series. While the car entered in Pro-Am will be entrusted to French GT drivers Laurent Pasquali and Sacha Bottemanne and young Dutchman Max Koebolt, who all debut in the team, the two Pro cars will have somehow changing line-ups, which will be announced ahead of every event. Still, the most usual line-up configuration will see Laurens Vanthoor, Robin Frijns and another new addition, French GT star Jean-Karl Vernay share #1 and Stéphane Ortelli, Stéphane Richelmi and Frank Stippler driving car #2.
It is in this championship that, with the support of Audi Sport, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT will have the opportunity to race the new Audi R8 LMS, recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. One unit will be used at Monza (with Nico Müller joining Stippler and Ortelli at the wheel) and another will be entered at the Ricard 1000 km race for Laurens Vanthoor-Markus Winkelhock-René Rast.
Total 24 Hours of Spa
Although part of the Blancpain Endurance Series, the Total 24 Hours of Spa is a race completely apart, as we all know. For the Ardennes enduro, Vanthoor-Winkelhock-Rast will defend their title at the wheel of the new Audi R8 LMS, a model that also Ortelli-Stippler-Müller will have, with Frijns-Richelmi-Vernay being entrusted an R8 LMS ultra.
ADAC 24 Hours of the Nürburgring
This year too, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT will live the excitement of the “Green Hell” and be part of Audi’s offensive, with two new R8 LMS. The line-ups for the ‘Ring are Laurens Vanthoor-Edward Sandström-Nico Müller-Christopher Mies on one hand, and Laurens Vanthoor-Pierre Kaffer-Niki Thiim-Chister Jöns on the other.
The first 2015 outing is round the corner, as the Blancpain Sprint Series kicks-off on Easter weekend (4-6) at the Circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro, Southwest France. As customary, the Coupes de Pâques races of 1 hour each take place on Easter Sunday (Qualifying Race at 14:15 CET) and Monday (Main Race at 13:10). Follow all the action (including live timing and commented TV webstreaming) on www.blancpain-gt-series.com