Motorsport News - Sportscar
Sweet Ricard for the Belgian Audi Club
2nd July 2012
French soil seems to be bringing good luck to the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT: after winning at Nogaro the opening round of the FIA GT1 World Championship, the Belgian squad has taken at Paul Ricard its second success of 2012, the first in the Blancpain Endurance Series this year. At the end of a weekend in crescendo, Christopher Mies, Christopher Haase and Stéphane Ortelli have brought their Audi R8 LMS ultra to the first spot under the chequered flag, after a superb final battle. The trio is now second in the overall standings, having passed their team-mates of car #2 who had to retire in the early stages of the race. It was the only disappointing note of a weekend that brings excellent auspices for the forthcoming Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Very logically, there was a lot of satisfaction in the Belgian camp after the race, but moreover a sense of ‘mission accomplished’. As Team Principal Vincent Vosse points out, “We really wanted this win and it has a special taste, because it has been a team victory, the result of the efforts of the entire team. Needless to say, the drivers did a terrific job, and the fight carried out by Stéphane Ortelli in the last stint, with such a short advantage over a great driver like Maxime Martin kept us holding our breath in the pits. But everybody did a great job, the engineers, the mechanics, and we were able, as a team, to over-turn a situation that was quite complex at the beginning of the weekend. We also had an excellent race strategy and perfect pit stops. All this is what I am proud of and this is the best way to go to Spa for the 24 Hours, undoubtedly the biggest race of the year for us.”
The weekend, indeed, had started with some challenges, as finding the right set-ups proved not easy, given also the extra weight imposed by the balance of performance. In qualifying, things improved, with Edward Sandström eventually taking P11 for car #2 and Stéphane Ortelli P15 for #1.
Unfortunately, the race of the best-placed R8 would last only four laps, as the car stopped abruptly. “I don’t know what broke, but there was some kind of failure, and the car went into a spin”, said Edward Sandströn, then at the wheel.
Luckily, the car #1 had a trouble-free race, with Christopher Mies bringing it in the top ten in a few laps. After 36 minutes, an accident brought the safety-car in, and that was the moment chosen by the team for the first pit stop, a strategic move that would pay off, as Christopher Haase could progressively gain positions, thanks also to a full-attack approach. The German gave the wheel to Stéphane Ortelli in P1, but there was much more to do than cruising to victory for the Monegasque, as Martin’s BMW was only twelve seconds behind.
“It has been a stressful and fantastic stint at the same time”, admitted Ortelli, obviously happy of winning at home, “as the gap wasn’t huge and there was a lot of traffic and yellow flags. So, the gap kept constantly growing and reducing, according to the track situations, but eventually it worked out and I could win with a 6-second margin. We can be very happy of this win, it has been a tough one, given how things started. It’s a weekend that reminds me the one lived in Monza, but here we have won, thanks to an extraordinary team work. Everyone has done his part and deserved this one.”
In three week times, the Blancpain will be in Belgium for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, where the Team WRT will defend the title conquered last year, but before that the Belgian Audi Club squad will head to Portimão next week for the fifth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship.
Blancpain Endurance Series - Round 3
Paul Ricard, France
30 June-1st July 2012
1. Mies-Haase-Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS ultra) 85 laps in 3h01m48s120
2. Palttala-Leinders-Martin (BMW Z4) +05s811
3. Gattuso-Rigon-Zampieri (Ferrari 458 Italia) +17s745
4. Hommerson – Machiels Bertolini (Ferrari 458 Italia) +30s029
5. Hennerici-Maassen-Goossens (Porsche 997 GT3 R) +38s597
Championship Standings (GT3 Pro Cup) after Round 3 of 6
1. Palttala-Leinders-Martin 68 points
2. Mies-Haase-Ortelli (Audi R8 LMS) 48
3. Sandström-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS) 36
4. Gattuso-Rigon-Zampieri 35
5. Hennerici-Goossens-Maassen 26
Piccini, Bonanomi(Audi RB LMS) 18
Championship Standings (GT3 Pro Cup for teams)
1. Marc VDS Racing Team 68 points
2. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 61
3. Kessel Racing 37
4. Prospeed 28
5. KRK 23
Next Round: Total 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BE)aul Ricard (FR), 28-29 July 2012.
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