Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT to battle for the titles in Navarra with 3 cars

Belgian Audi Club Press Release

The moment of truth has arrived for the Blancpain Endurance Series, as teams and drivers head to Navarra, the beautiful track in Northern Spain, for the final and decisive round of the 2012 season. Titles will be decided this coming weekend and the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is determined to retain the crown conquered last year. The Belgian squad is well-positioned to fight for the laurels in both standings: in the Teams championship, it leads by 4 points after the last round at the Nürburgring, and in the Drivers category, Stéphane Ortelli-Christopher Haase-Christopher Mies are second, three points only from the lead.
Needless to say, these small margins anticipate a closely-fought and exciting finale. In order to maximize its chances, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has decided to enter a third Audi R8 LMS ultra: alongside the one of championship bidders and the one of Sandström-Vanthoor-Bonanomi, the third car will be entrusted to Frank Stippler-Oliver Jarvis-Filipe Albuquerque.

At the eve of this crucial rendez-vous, Team Principal Vincent Vosse explains the situation: “It’s a very close situation in both the Drivers and the Teams battle and our strategy cannot be clearer: we need to go for it and we definitely want these titles! We have a slight advantage in the Teams hierarchy, hence the choice to enter a third car to take points, while in the Drivers competition, we definitely need to score four points more than our rivals of the Marc VDS BMW. Three points more would mean a tie-up, which would be favorable to them.”

Regarding the third R8 LMS ultra entered, its drivers are certainly not new faces: Frank Stippler and Oliver Jarvis have been driving for Team WRT in the FIA GT1, and Filipe Albuquerque is making his return to the squad he drove for last year. Sports Director Pierre Dieudonné explains a choice that appears natural: “Oliver and Frank have done a great job this season in the FIA GT1, but have been particularly unlucky. To have them with us in this final Blancpain round is also a way to thank them after a difficult season. Filipe is a great and fast driver, who knows the R8 inside out, and is very appreciated in the team.”

Similarly, the Navarra track is nothing new to WRT. “This will be the third time we are racing here this year (after the FIA GT1 and the French GT Tour events, and we also made some winter testing before the season”, explains Stéphane Ortelli. “It is a fantastic track and a nice venue, where we always come with great pleasure. For the drivers, the track is a delicacy: natural design, very technical, with many up and downs through the hills, and corners with different surface inclination. The turns are mostly medium-slow, which generally is not the most interesting configuration, but here they are really technical, and Turn 1 is a nice fast curve. It’s a track that may be tough on the brakes, but at this period of the year, cooler temperatures should help.”

The Monegasque isn’t particularly nervous ahead of the decisive title duel, as he has been in this position quite a number of times in his career. “My team mates, the two Christophers, although younger, also know what it’s like winning a top title in the last race, as they were European GT3 champions some years ago. So, we need to stay cool and do the best job possible.” In the effort, they will be able to count on the support of the sister cars, as Laurens Vanthoor confirms: “It’s going to be a team effort more than ever all the weekend long!”

At the helm of the squad, Vincent Vosse remains confident but realistic: “Things can go either way, and as we have seen in the last race at the Nürburgring and also in the FIA GT1 finale, anything can happen in GT racing at this level. The pressure is on everyone, but realistically, we may say that we have less on our shoulders than our direct rivals, as it is since June and the Ricard round that they haven’t finished ahead of us.”

With free practice and pre-qualifying on Saturday, the Navarra round will follow the standard Blancpain event format. Qualifying will take place on Sunday morning, with the three-hour race starting as customary at 14:30 hours.