- Blancpain GT Series campaign conducted with 4 cars in Sprint and 2 in Endurance
- Strong and sharp driver line-ups
- D.Vanthoor, Stevens, Mies, Frijns, Leonard and Vervisch ensure stability
- Riberas and S. van der Linde bring fresh blood
The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is ready for another busy and exciting season at the top level of international GT3 racing. It will be the ninth year competing at the highest ladder, and the Belgian squad is determined to keep up with a success form that has seen it conquering titles and prestigious wins every year. In 2017, those included the double crown (Teams’ and Drivers’) in the Blancpain Sprint Cup, on top of podium finishes at Nürburgring 24-Hour races and at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau and in the top-5 at the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
At the occasion of the last pre-season test at Zolder, on home soil, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has revealed its line-ups for the Blancpain GT Series, which will be again the bone of its 2018 campaign, and given initial indication about the rest of its programme.
In the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, four Audi R8 LMS will be entered, with following line-ups:
#1 Álex Riberas (E) – Christopher Mies (D)
#2 Dries Vanthoor (B) – Will Stevens (GB)
#17 Stuart Leonard (GB) – Robin Frijns (NL)
# 3 TBC – TBC
As seen, reigning champions Stuart Leonard and Robin Frijns retain their lucky #17 number; whenever the Dutchman will be taken by its DTM commitments, he will be replaced by Fred Vervisch. Dries Vanthoor and Will Stevens team up to form a particularly fast pair, while Chris Mies is associated to a newcomer, Spanish young gun Álex Riberas (24), who has already a varied and successful curriculum and was, with some terrific outings in the GTD class in the American Le Mans Series and most recently, a runner-up in the Asian Le Mans Series. The drivers of the fourth car will be announced ahead of the season-opener at Zolder on 7-8 April.
In the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, the team has deliberately opted to enter only two cars to maximize its fighting force:
#1 Christopher Mies (D) – Álex Riberas (E) – Dries Vanthoor (B)
#17 Stuart Leonard (GB) – Robin Frijns (NL) – Sheldon van der Linde (ZA)
Here again, line-ups show a perfect combination of experience, talent and youth, with the fresh blood provided by Riberas and Sheldon van der Linde. The youngest in the South African racing family is only 18 and has recently debuted with GT3 cars after his titles in mono-brand series in his home country and a 4th final spot in the 2016 Audi Sport TT Cup.
Needless to say, long-distance races will continue to be a coveted focus of the squad. 2018 has already yielded a great first win at the Bathurst 12 Hours thanks to Leonard-Frijns-Vanthoor. Specific plans for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, which is part of the Blancpain Endurance Cup calendar, and for the Nürburgring 24 Hours will be announced in due course, in cooperation with Audi Sport.
Under its own banner, Team WRT will also defend the colours of Audi in other GT3 competitions, like the Intercontinental GT Challenge and the Blancpain GT Series Asia, while making its debut, with the Audi RS3 LMS, in the new WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup.
Vincent Vosse, Team Principal: “It’s time to start the engines again, and although work never stops during the winter, it is nice to be back to real racing, which is what everybody enjoys most. We have prepared 2018 very carefully and, as I said at the end of the last season, we wanted to reduce the number of our entries, to be stronger and fiercer, both technically and from a sporting perspective. This is why we will be present in the Blancpain GT Series with 2 cars in the Endurance Cup and 4 in the Sprint Cup. As a team, we have been blessed with success in every series and prestigious race that we have been involved. We want to keep this trend, and as Team WRT, we have some additional and interesting new challenges this year. We want continue winning, especially in the legendary long-distance races, such as the Total 24 Hours of Spa, which means so much for us Belgians. As you will see, the driver line-ups that we have elaborated for this year are terrific, and I am sure that they will be very competitive. As always, we like to give an opportunity to youth and talent, and we warmly welcome the young guns that join us this year. I am sure they will be up to the challenge!”
Photo credit: Brecht Decancq