It was an excellent end of the Blancpain Endurance Cup for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT at Barcelona, as Stuart Leonard-Jake Dennis-Robin Frijns took an excellent second in the last race of the year, after fighting for the win until last corner. Two other cars of the squad finished the race, with Richelmi-Berthon-Tréluyer taking an excellent P9, after a very unlucky season. Unfortunately, car #5 of Vanthoor-Fässler-Stevens had to retire because of a mechanical issue while fighting for podium positions.
The result in Catalonia was not positive enough to allow the team to take the Teams’ title in the overall Blancpain GT Series, but being in the top-3 is definitely a good result, which adds to the two Sprint Cup titles conquered.
Team Principal Vincent Vosse was on a high at the end of the weekend: “It has been a beautiful race and I congratulate the winners and the Endurance and overall champions. It was nice to see that we were competitive and fighting for a success until the very end. We knew that going for the overall Teams’ title was a difficult challenge and once we lost car #5, it was clear we were not going to make it, but seeing car #17 fighting hard to win the race and our two other cars performing a good race was a nice satisfaction. I want to thank the entire team for the great job done in such a competitive season.”
The weekend started gently for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, with its two best cars in P12 (car #17) and P15 (car #5) in free practice. Pre-qualifying was on wet track and saw Dries Vanthoor taking the best time, with car #2 in P6. The Qualifying session, on Sunday morning, started with wet conditions but the track started drying progressively. Robin Frijns used perfectly the situation to take the pole in the closing seconds at the wheel of the Audi #17, with a lap time of 1.46.019. “We left it late because we knew the track would improve all the time”, explained the Dutchman. “It was difficult to get a clear lap, but that was always going to be the case with so many cars on track. Title-wise we have nothing to lose or gain in the race, so we will try to have fun for this last race.” Vanthoor, on car #5, qualified 6th, with car #2 and car #3 taking P26 and P37, respectively, on the grid.
The start of the race, with the weather holding off, was positive for the Belgian squad, as Fässler was an early leader in car #5 and Leonard was 3rd in the #17, with Richelmi also in the top 15. After the first stop, Jake Dennis would be in second position ahead of Will Stevens. Unfortunately for car #5, a broken power steering pump would sanction the end of the race.
The team’s flag though would be perfectly carried by car #17, which made a great race, steadily in second and close to the first. In the last stint, Robin Frijns would attempt everything what he could to pass Vautier, even in last corner, but the Mercedes managed to stay ahead.
Car#2 of Richelmi-Berthon-Tréluyer made a very solid race, with Stéphane Richelmi climbing no less than ten positions in his stint, finishing in an excellent P9, while car #3 of Caygill-Clément-Venter finished in P34.
The Blancpain GT Series season is now finished, but Team WRT is heading to other commitments, starting with the Laguna Seca round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Blancpain Endurance Series – Round 5
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain
29 Sept.-1st October 2017
Race Race results:
1. Vautier-Serralles-Juncadella (Mercedes AMG) 93 laps
2. Frijns-Leonard-Dennis (Audi R8 LMS) + 0s719
3. Bortolotti-Engelhart-Caldarelli (Lambo Huracan) +43s183
4. Perera-Buhk-Eriksson (Mercedes AMG) +47s928
5. Stolz-Christodoulou-Buurman (Mercedes AMG) +48s350
9. Richelmi-Berthon-Tréluyer (Audi R8 LMS) +1m32s905
34. Caygill-Mateu-Venter (Audi R8 LMS) +2 laps
DNF Vanthoor-Fässler-Stevens (Audi R8 LMS) 38 laps (mechanical)
Press release Belgian Audi Club Team WRT