Friday, May 31, 2013

The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in full shape for Silverstone’s challenge

Belgian Audi Club Press Release

All the emotion of the Blancpain Endurance Series is back this weekend, as the world's GT élite travels to England for the second round of the 2013 season, which is scheduled on another legendary track: Silverstone. In Monza's season-opener, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT had a positive start, although results were influenced by race incidents and the best-placed of the WRT Audis finished fourth after losing the podium in the last corner. The Belgian squad is crossing the Channel determined to better, on a track that should be more favourable to the R8 LMS ultra. The three cars of Laurens Vanthoor-Stéphane Ortelli-René Rast, Edward Sandström-Frank Stippler-Christopher Mies and Nicky Mayr-Melnhof-Matt Halliday-Rahel Frey are all entered in the Pro category, where competition is particularly fierce.

"We are very happy to resume activity in the Blancpain", states Team Principal Vincent Vosse, "as this is really the top GT competition at the moment and a series I personally like very much. It's always nice to go to Britain, which is the cradle of modern motorsports and there are always so many fans, and Silverstone has always been a track where we have done well. The fact that it's a flowingly fast track suits the Audis well, although we know the R8 is not the fastest car in terms of pure performance. Last year we achieved two podium finishes, and we aim at being on the podium this time too. The competition, though, is extremely strong, once again, and there are plenty of very good cars and teams, with excellent drivers and great ambitions, but that's what we are too!"

With 60 cars entered, the Blancpain will indeed feature again a fabulous grid, and the battle will be fiercer than ever. A key addition will be the works car from Aston Martin, which will certainly aim at shining on home soil. "It will be certainly one of the cars to be watched more closely", confirms Sporting Director Pierre Dieudonné, "although not the only one, of course. But we know we also are among the strong teams. For the rest, there haven't been many developments since Monza. Only very minor adjustments have been made to the Balance of Performance, which in the Blancpain is working reasonably well. Needless to say, weather conditions may play a role, and the forecasts seem to point to changing conditions, but that is something pretty usual in Britain and nothing that can scare a ... Belgian team!"

Among the drivers, spirits are high and one man is looking for revenge. Edward Sandström shared with Mies and Stippler the best-placed WRT car at Monza and drove the last and incredibly lively stint, managing to preserve the third place from the fierce attacks of rivals until the last corner. Since then, the Swede has overcome the slight disappointment and reflects on what happened: "It was, of course, frustrating to lose the podium so close to the finishing line and because of the obstruction of a slower car", he concedes, "but it was still a good race and a good result. I fought well in the last stint, not only against rivals, but also against some pick-up problem, and there is always something to be learnt. Maybe when I stumbled into that slower car, I should have been less conservative, but I wanted to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Anyway, fourth was not a bad result with regard to the championship, especially at Monza, which was probably the most challenging circuit for us".

"Now we go to Silverstone", goes on Edward, "It's a track I adore, I am always excited at going there, and I think we will be competitive, despite the very strong opposition. The Audi always performed well there, especially in the fast corners such as Becketts, Copse and Stowe, and the WRT Team is working perfectly, in an excellent atmosphere. With 60 cars on the track, qualifying well will be important and also a challenge, as you cannot have a clear lap for yourself, and you need to choose the right group of cars to be with."

The weekend format, as usual, foresees free practice and pre-qualifying on Saturday, with qualifying on Sunday morning and the 3-hour race kicking off at 2:50 pm UK time (one hour later in continental Europe).

Photo credit: Belgian Audi Club