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A frustrating weekend in France for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT
Posted by: newsla on Jul 01, 2013 - 06:37 AM
Sports Cars
A frustrating weekend in France for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

The third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, celebrated at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Southern France, turned out to be one of the most frustrating weekends for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. With all the Audis R8 LMS ultra not in a position to compete with most rival cars, the Belgian squad could not opt for top positions and brings home only two points, gained by Stéphane Ortelli-Laurens Vanthoor-René Rast thanks to their final 9th position. The other two cars of Matt Halliday – Rahel Frey – Nicky Mayr-Melnhof and Edward Sandström – Frank Stippler – Christopher Mies finished further aback, in 13th and 17th position in the Pro class respectively. In the overall standings, the impact is somehow less harmful, as the two top cars lose only one position in the Drivers’ standings, and so does too Team WRT in the Teams’ rankings. The entire squad is now focused on the Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the stellar race of the season, and determined to fight back.


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There was a sense of helplessness in the Team WRT stand after the race as a frustrated Vincent Vosse wrapped up the situation: “The drivers and the team performed impeccably throughout the weekend, but we couldn’t achieve anything significant”, said the Team WRT principal, “I think it was visible to everybody that the Audis were simply not in a position to compete with most of the other cars. I think the balance of performance was very unfavourable and needs to be revisited.”

It was clear from the free practice sessions that the R8s were penalized in the long straights that are so crucial at the Paul Ricard, suffering from very low top speeds. In qualifying, things went a little bit better thanks to efforts of the drivers: Christopher Mies qualified in 8th in the Pro category, with René Rast taking 11th and Matt Halliday16thon the class grid.

In the race, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT cars were never among the front-runners but fought throughout the race as best as they could. Ortelli-Rast-Vanthoor could get into the top ten at the very end and clinch two valuable points, despite a drive-through inflicted to Vanthoor for undertaking beyond the track limits. The young Belgian was not very happy with the sanction: “In fact, I had been behind a lapped car for a couple of laps, trying to pass him”, he explained, “but the driver systematically ignored the blue flags. Eventually, I could pass him but he tried to overtake me again a couple of corners later. I went off-track to avoid contact and that’s where I re-passed him.”

Car #13 of Edward Sandström – Frank Stippler – Christopher Mies, the best placed in the championship, came 27th overall and 17thin the Pro class to finish line, one lap down from the front-runners. “It definitely wasn’t the weekend the entire team had expected”, admitted the Swede, “but that’s what it is. Our car suffered a little electrical problem which slowed us a bit after the first stint, but that is not enough to explain such a gap.”

Matt Halliday – Rahel Frey – Nicky Mayr-Melnhof, in car #13, had a quitter race if compared to their team mates finishing in P21 overall (P13 in the Pro class), also one lap behind.

The team heads back to Belgium determined to focus on what comes next in this very busy part of the season. Preparation for the Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, which takes place in one month time, is well underway. In between, the team will be at Zandvoort next weekend for the FIA GT Sprint third round.

Blancpain Endurance Series - Round 3
Paul Ricard, France
29-30 June 2013

Race Results (Pro):

1. Leinders-Buurman-Martin (BMW Z4) 81 laps
2. Sims-Dusseldorp-Parente (McLaren MP4 12C) + 7s420
3. Luhr-Kane-Dumbreck (Nissan GT-R) +42s335
4. Ramos-Zampieri-Rigon (Ferrari F458) +44s714
5. Buhk-Ludwig-Day (Mercedes SLS AMG) +46s484
9.Ortelli-Vanthoor-Rast (Audi R8 LMS ultra) +1m34s86220s981
13.Halliday-Frey-Mayr-Melnhof(Audi R8 LMS ultra) +1 lap
17. Sandström-Stippler-Mies (Audi R8 LMS ultra) + 1 lap

Drivers’ Championship Standings (Pro) after Round 3 of 5

1. Zampieri-Rigon-Ramos (Ferrari F458) 45 points
2. Leinders-Buurman-Martin (Ferrari F458) 31
3. Sandström-Stippler-Mies (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 27
4. Turner-Mücke-Makowiecki (Aston Martin) 25
5. Ortelli-Vanthoor-Rast (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 24
Sims-Dusseldorp-Parente (McLaren MP4 12C) 24
15. Halliday-Frey-Mayr-Melnhof 4

Teams’ Championship Standings (Pro) after Round 3of 5

1. Kessel Racing 47points
2. Marc VDS 45
3. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 32
JRM 32
5. Hexis Racing 27

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