Thursday, September 20, 2012

Title battle heats up at Nürburgring for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

Belgian Audi Club Press Release

The Blancpain Endurance Series is heading towards one of the world's endurance temples for its fifth and penultimate round: the Nürburgring. The legendary track nested in the Eifel hills will set the scenery for the first part of the final battle for the titles, with the decisive last round taking place in Navarra, Spain, on 14 October. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is fully involved in this battle, as the Belgian squad currently lies second in the Team standings, only two points behind the leader, and is fully determined to retain the crown conquered last year. In the Drivers standings, Christopher Haase-Christopher Mies-Stéphane Ortelli are also second, with a gap of 15 points, and in contention for the title, while Edward Sandström and Laurens Vanthoor, who team up with Marco Bonanomi, are fourth but further away in terms of points. With the round of the FIA GT1 World Championship taking place in parallel, the Nürburgring round is going to be quite challenging for the Belgian team!

"The moment of truth is approaching in the Blancpain Endurance Series and we go to the Nürburgring fully committed to defend our chances and to do everything it takes to retain the title", confirms Team Principal Vincent Vosse. The team will have a difficult task in Germany, as it will be involved in both the Blancpain's and the FIA GT1's events. "Everything has been planned in accordance", confirms Sports Director Pierre Dieudonné, "and while it is not usual to run four different cars and two separate teams of mechanics and engineers at the same event, we feel ready to take up the challenge."

The two three-driver line-ups both include a member having to race in both events this weekend. On car #1, the best-placed in the championship, it is Stéphane Ortelli playing the marathon-man role, but the Monegasque is used to tough missions and quite keen to go back to the Eifel. "It is a circuit I like, but a very peculiar one", he explains, "For whatever reason, it is a track with very little grip and one where gaps are always quite reduced. On top, as we all know, weather is unpredictable and constantly changing and this could play a role. But it is a track dear to me: it is here I returned to racing in 2008, after the horrific accident I had in Monza with a LMP1, and in a way, it is the place where I was reassured of still being a racing driver!"

Laurens Vanthoor, on car #2, will be the other driver committed to two events, alternating the role of Ortelli's team mate (in the FIA GT1) and rival (in the Blancpain), although ‘rival' is really not the good word. "The most important is to do well in both events", reckons the Belgian, "and the success of the team in both series. In the Blancpain, car #2, although still in contention for the title, is not as well placed as car #1. We haven't discussed team strategy at all, but it goes without saying that we are here to defend the interests of Audi and WRT in the first place."

With free practice and pre-qualifying on Saturday, the Nürburgring race will see qualifying taking place on Sunday morning and the 3-hour race starting at 14:30 after GT1 action will be over.