Two podium finishes for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT at Silverstone reinforce leadership
Laurens Vanthoor, Robin Frijns, and Jean-Karl Vernay took a brilliant second place at Silverstone
Mission accomplished for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT at Silverstone, in the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, which yielded two podium finishes for the squad. Laurens Vanthoor-Robin Frijns-Jean-Karl Vernay took a brilliant second, reinforcing their leadership in the Drivers’ overall standings.
Stéphane Ortelli-Frank Stippler-Stéphane Richelmi also reached the podium, after an excellent race, to take third and strengthening the overall leadership in the Teams’ standings. The positive outing in England was completed by the third car of Nash-Gaillard-Hallyday finishing 18th in the Pro-Am Cup, where a fourth WRT-entered car (Bottemanne-Schothorst-Koebolt) took an excellent 7th.
It wasn’t easy and we had to fight a lot in heavy traffic, but the most important is the championship and we have scored very valuable points.
Belgian Audi Club Team WRT team principal Vincent Vosse was happy at the end of the British weekend: “We put two cars on the podium and scored heavy points for the championship, we cannot ask for more. The entire team did a wonderful job, in difficult conditions, with so many cars on track and in the pits. We were a little bit unlucky with car #1, as the last pit stop was delayed by one lap because of a full course yellow period, which gave the decisive advantage to the winning McLaren, but that’s part of racing. We continue on a positive path and that is the most important”.
The Audis R8 LMS ultra proved at ease on the fast Northamptonshire track since free practice and qualified well, with Vanthoor taking 3rd and Richelmi 6th, while Nash was 14th in the Pro-Am category.
The initial phases of the race, with 61 starters, clearly demanded great caution. On car #1, Jean-Karl Vernay took the start with used tires, losing some positions at the beginning against rivals on new tires, but gaining them back later. After a solid stint, the Frenchman handed the wheel to Robin Frijns, whose stint was disturbed by a gearbox electronic problem which obliged the Dutchman to reset the system, losing around 20 seconds.
Laurens Vanthoor concluded the race in his usual flamboyant style climbing up positions, despite the delayed final pit stop because of full course yellow period, right after the McLaren had pitted. Eventually, only 23 seconds separated the two cars under the chequered flag, but the young Belgian wasn’t disappointed: “It wasn’t easy and we had to fight a lot in heavy traffic, but the most important is the championship and we have scored very valuable points.”
Car #2 finished with podium honours a race that saw Frank Stippler, Stéphane Richelmi and Stéphane Ortelli running on similar pace to the top front-runners, despite some ground lost in the heavy traffic at the beginning. In the final stint, Ortelli performed a terrific overtaking on the Nissan, which eventually brought third place after the ISR Audi was penalized. James Nash, Philippe Gaillard and David Hallyday had a consistent race in Pro-Am, finishing 18th despite a drive-through for a very minor pit stop infringement, while the Team WRT car of Bottemanne-Schothorst-Koebolt, finished an excellent 7th in the class.
The season continues with the Blancpain Sprint Series and a next round that has a special taste for the entire squad: Zolder! The stop in Limburg is scheduled for 6-7 June.
Blancpain Endurance Series – Round 2
1. Estre-Van Gisbergen-Bell (McLaren 650S) 84 laps
2. Vernay-Frijns-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 23s281
3. Ortelli-Richelmi-Stippler (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 44s793
4. Bonanomi-Salaquarda-Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS ultra) - 48s407
5. Plowman-Walkinshaw-Dolby (Nissan GT-R) - 56s787
23. Bottemanne-Koebolt-Schothorst (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 83 laps (7th Pro-Am)
42. Nash-Gaillard-Hallyday (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 81 laps (18th in Pro-Am)
Drivers’ provisional standings after Round 2 of 5 (Pro Cup):
1. Vernay-Frijns-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 43 points
2. Stippler-Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 30
3. Van Gisbergen-Estre-Bell (McLares 650S) 26
4. Meyrick-Kane-Smith (Bentley Continental) 20
5. Walkinshaw-Dolby-Plowman (Nissan GT-R) 16
6. Richelmi, N.Müller (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 15
Teams’ provisional standings after Round 2 of 5 (Pro Cup):
1. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 43 points
2. Von Ryan Racing 31
3. Bentley M-Sport 28
4. MRS Racing 20
5. ISR 17
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