Sunday, August 18, 2013

FIA GT: 1-2-3 Pro Cup Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in Slovakia Ring Championship Race

By Tarek Ramchani

Slovakia Ring hosted two great FIA GT Series races today. The Qualifying Race was held earlier this morning followed by the main Championship Race later in the afternoon. Audi performed very well in both events.

In the Qualifying Race the Audi R8 LMS ultra cars from Belgian Audi Club Team WRT battled very hard with the McLaren MP4-12C from Sebastien Loeb Racing and the Lamborghini Gallardo from Reiter Engineering. After a very competitive race the #11 Audi R8 LMS ultra shared by Laurens Vanthoor and Stéphane Ortelli finished second, behind race winners Sebastien Loeb and Alvaro Parente. The sister #12 Audi R8 LMS ultra driven by René Rast and Nikki Mayr-Melnhof was fifth. The #13 Audi of Frank Stippler and Edward Sandstrom finished ninth after a drive through penalty. It was a though race for the Portuguese Team Novadriver, their #14 Audi was damaged and finished in seventeenth position.

The main Championship Race in the afternoon turned out to be very good for the Audi squad. Stéphane Ortelli lead the race from the start with much happening behind him. Their was early contact between the pole-sitting McLaren MP4-12C of Sebastien Loeb and the Lamborghini Gallardo of Peter Cox, this eliminated both cars from contention. Unfortunately Ortelli had to serve a drive through penalty for jumping the start. When Laurens Vanthoor took over the car he was able to recover and brought the car back to the front of the pack, and even caught up to his teammates. Meanwhile the race had a surprising new leader, the #2 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 from HTP Gravity Charouz. Behind the Czech SLS the Audis were grouped together and started to battle each other. No team orders at the Belgian customer team, and a fierce fight started on track between René Rast, Frank Stippler and Laurens Vanthoor. The three drivers were fighting for second overall on track, but also for the Pro-Cup class win, and most impotently for big points in the overall championship standings. Rast lead the WRT pack to the checkered flag, whilst Vanthoor was able to pass Stippler for third place, with only a few minutes before the checkered flag. It was a great 1-2-3 finish for WRT in the Pro Cup class. Up front the HTP Mercedes-Benz took a comfortable overall win with drivers Sergey Afanasiev and Andreas Simonsen. Team Novadriver again faced a very unlucky race and they were forced to retire after only a few laps into the race.

The next event of the FIA GT Series will be in Spain, hosted at the popular Navarra Circuit in September.

Photo credit: FIA GT Series