Thursday, July 5, 2012

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT back to the FIA GT1 with renewed ambitions

Belgian Audi Club Press Release

From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, but with no time to sunbath! The 2012 race calendar of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is such that events follow one another with almost no interruption. After winning Round 3 of the Blancpain Endurance Series last Sunday at Paul Ricard, the Belgian squad is heading to the most South-Western track in Europe, the Autódromo do Algarve in Portimão. The beautiful circuit overlooking the Portuguese holiday resort is hosting the fifth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship. The Audis R8 LMS ultra of Laurens Vanthoor-Stéphane Ortelli and Frank Stippler-Oliver Jarvis will seek to re-launch themselves to the top, provided the balance of performance allows it!

Following the recent success in the Blancpain, a part of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has stayed in France for a 3-day physical/mental campus in the Alps. Unsurprisingly in this period, where the Tour de France dominates the sports scene, cycling is a big part of the training sessions. Between one session and the other, Laurens Vanthoor, told: "We will definitely be fit for the Portimão race! This training is quite useful, the weather is excellent and we are having a good time. Of course, everybody is trying to beat each other, and the boss [Vincent Vosse] thinks he is the fastest. That may be true only when we go downhill..."

The atmosphere in the team, in any case, is excellent, and the young Belgian looks forward to his first visit to the Portuguese track. "I have never been there", he explains, "but from what I have seen in footage and at the simulator, it is a very exciting track and one that should suit our cars. I just hope we will not be too penalized by the balance of performance. We will be arriving early in Portimão in order to have time to discover the track."

The young Belgian is echoed by his team mate on the other car Frank Stippler, who will also be a rookie in Portimão. "It is always a challenge when you go to a new circuit, especially when it's a difficult and exciting one such as Portimão", reckons the German, "but I am told it is a natural track on the hills, similar to Spa or the Nürburgring, and I like those! For the rest, we'll see where we will be with respect to the competition, but the objective is to be again with the front-runners. For sure, WRT is a very professional and determined team and I feel happy to be part of it."

Team Principal Vincent Vosse looks forward to this next FIA GT1 round: Portimão brought us well last year, as we won there our first European GT3 race. It's a track that should suit us well, as it has no long straights and has some fast corners. This said, it all depends, once again, on the balance of performance, and I must say that at the Ricard I saw some of our competitors going really fast. It didn't have such a dramatic impact in the Blancpain, as the races are longer and driver line-ups very diverse, but it is an issue in the FIA GT1. Our objective will be the same as always: to stay very focused on what we have to do and do it well, avoiding any mistake. We have the best driver line-up and a team that works hard and well, let's make a good use of that. It is essential, at this stage of the championship that we come back to the top of the standings."

The event will respect the traditional schedule of the FIA GT1, with the Qualifying Race taking place on Saturday at 13:15 (local time) and the Championship Race (both of 60 minutes) on Sunday at 14:15.

Photo credit: Markus Berns / SRO