Thursday, April 17, 2014

BSS: The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT heads to friendly Nogaro for the Blancpain Sprint season-opener

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Press Release

Just one week after the season-opener of the Blancpain Endurance in Monza, it is now time for the sister GT Series, the Blancpain Sprint to kick-off.
The traditional season-opener takes place at the Circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro, South-West France, in an event that is very appropriately labelled ‘Coupes de Pâques’, as races take place on the Sunday and Monday of Easter’s weekend. This is definitely a place where the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT returns with pleasure, as the squad has very fond memories there, having collected no less than three double wins out of the four races in the last two years! To keep that form will be difficult, but the entire team is determined to shine and encouraged by the competitiveness shown by the Audis R8 LMS ultra at Monza only a few days ago. Team WRT starts the season taking up the challenge of preparing four cars. The three machines of the Belgian Audi Club are entrusted to Laurens Vanthoor - César Ramos and René Rast - Enzo Ide, who compete in the Gold Cup, and to the duo of young guns composed by Vincent Abril and Mateusz Lisowski, who are entered in the new Silver Cup for drivers under 25 years of age. The fourth car sports the colours of G-Drive Racing.

As Blancpain Sprint Series’ current Champions in both categories (Drivers and Teams), the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is starting the season with some responsibilities. “We are the reigning champions”, underlines Team Principal Vincent Vosse, “and it is obvious that we want to retain the titles. So, the ambition is exactly the same, although we face the challenge of coming with a much-renewed team and four cars to take care of, something that we haven’t yet done in the past during a full campaign. But at WRT, we like new challenges!”

Driver line-ups have indeed been renewed, with Laurens Vanthoor and César Ramos in car #1 and René Rast and Enzo Ide in car #2 for the two Audis entered in the Gold Cup. Sporting Director Pierre Dieudonné is confident about the quality of the quartet. “Monza has proven that Laurens is really one of the top drivers in GT, his race stint was faboulous and he really seems at his best. César is also young, fast and determined, and his familiarization with the Audi and with the team is going perfectly. René, we all know how good he is, and Enzo, who is back with us and knows us well, has progressed a lot. So, I am really not concerned about the drivers.”

The novelty lies in the third car of the Belgian Audi Club, which will be entrusted to two of the most talented young drivers in the GT scene, France’s Vincent Abril and Poland’s Mateusz Lisowski, whose added ages barely reach the … 42 years mark. “One of the most exciting things in motorsports is to bring up young and talented drivers”, explains Vosse, “We have always done it with pleasure at WRT. This is why when SRO came up with the idea of a Silver Cup specifically dedicated to drivers under 25, we immediately said ‘yes’. It’s a new challenge for WRT and let me tell you: I definitely think that with Vincent and Mateusz, we have some top-class material!”

As said, WRT will this year also prepare a fourth car that will run under the colours of G-Drive Racing for Roman Rusinov and Stéphane Ortelli. At Nogaro, though, it will be Frenchman Grégory Guilvert replacing the Russian driver, who will be racing in the WEC.

In order to be perfectly efficient, the team has been strengthened and organized differently from the past, with the two Belgian Audi Club cars entered in the Gold Cup under the sporting supervision of Pierre Dieudonné and the two other machines’ crews directed by Thierry Tassin.

Nogaro, a natural track with an interesting combination of slow and fast corners, has been favourable to the Audis R8 in the past and is particularly liked by the drivers. “We know the circuit well”, says Vosse, “and we should be competitive, but we need to see how we will perform against the competition. At Monza, a high-speed track less favourable to our car, we were better than expected this year, but we have to see the Balance of Performance and how the new system of variable BoPs according to the track profiles, will work.”

As customary in the Blancpain Sprint Series, there will be a Qualifying Race (on Sunday at 3:15) and a Main Race (in this case, on Monday at 2:15), both of 1-hour duration, but with the Main Race giving more points than the qualifying one.       

Blancpain Sprint Series - Round 1

Nogaro, France  
18-21 April 2014

Timetable (all times local = CET)

Friday 18 April 2014
15:55-17:15 Free Practice 1

Saturday 19 April 2014
10:05-11:25 Free Practice 2
15:15-16:10 Qualifying
17:20-18:20 Qualifying

Sunday 20 April 2014
14:15-15:15 Qualifying Race (1 hour)

Monday 21 April 2014
09:00-09:20 Warm-up
14:15-15:15 Main Race (1 hour) 

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

#1   Laurens Vanthoor (B) – César Ramos (BR)
#2   René Rast (D) – Enzo Ide (B)  
#4   Vincent Abril (F) – Mateusz Lisowski (PL) (Silver Cup)

Additional WRT-prepared car (entered by G-Drive Racing)

#3   Grégory Guilvert (F)  – Stéphane Ortelli (MC)

More info on the Blancpain series, live timing and live commented TV streaming of each race on

Photo credit: Patrick Hecq Photography