It was an hectic weekend for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT at the Hungaroring, which hosted the fourth round of the Blancpain GT Series’ Sprint Cup. The Audis R8, with an extra 30 kgs, did not have a competitive pace on the dry; on a very wet track on Sunday, differences were somehow reduced but different race incidents prevented to make a better use of the opportunity. Eventually, the fourth position obtained by Álex Riberas-Christopher Mies in Race 2 was the best finish of the weekend, allowing the pair to remain in the first spot of the Drivers’ standings of the Sprint Cup, although on a tie with Marciello-Meadows, while Ricardo Feller-Adrien De Leener conquered a beautiful podium finish (3rd) in the Silver Cup in Race 2. The Sprint Cup titles will be decided in the final round at the Nürburgring, in two weeks, with the Belgian squad retaining a 10-points advantage in the Teams’ standings.
Team Principal Vincent Vosse was not elated on Sunday evening: “We have had better weekends than this one. As feared, we struggled to have a good pace on the dry, and had no chances in Race 1. In Race 2, on a wet track, we could not seize the opportunity to the fullest, because of various reasons. All this means that we will have quite a nice finale at the decisive round at the Nürburgring. The positive out of Hungary is the excellent race of our car in the Silver Cup, which took a podium thanks also to a great performance by Ricardo Feller and Adrien De Leener finishing the job. It is also the excellent work made by the entire team and by the pit stop crews, which took first and third in the Pirelli Pit Stop Challenge.”
Since free practice, it was clear that the Audis did not have the pace of the fastest cars, with only car #1 visiting the top-5 in free practice 1. On top, electrical problems on car #2 sidelined Vanthoor-Stevens from both sessions.
In Qualifying 1, Riberas could clinch P3 and Vanthoor P8, with the other two cars in the ninth row.
Race 1 started on a still humid track after a storm but with all cars on slick tyres except for the BMW of Watson. This car was to play quite a role in the opening laps as it logically climbed through the grid before slowing down significantly as its tyres degraded on the drying surface. In its journey, it would get in contact with Riberas, who had taken a cautious start, sending the Spaniard into the barriers, which ended his race. Another incident sent off track Stuart Leonard, with car #17 resuming its race at the back of the group before retiring during Frijns’ stint because of the damage sustained. On its side, car #3 of De Leener-Feller struggled a bit with the conditions in the first stint but found better pace in the second part, with the Swiss finishing in P14.
The best-placed car of the Belgian squad was to be car #2, with Dries Vanthoor fighting fiercely in the first stint to stay in contact with the front-runners and Will Stevens taking the wheel in P3 after a perfect pit stop. The Brit had to fight hard against rivals with better pace, eventually crossing the line in P5.
Race 2 on Sunday started behind the safety-car because of the rain-soaked track. In the very difficult conditions of the first stint, Mies kept P5 while Frijns and an excellent Feller climbed up to P7 and P10, respectively. Only Stevens was stuck further aback. A late and perfect pit stops allowed Riberas to stay with the front-runners, while Vanthoor climbed up to 6th, behind Leonard. The Spaniard would even gain two positions and become second before a safety-car period recompacted the group. In the fierce battle of the final laps, Riberas had to concede two positions while Vanthoor, still on a wet track, was sent into an unfortunate spin by car #17. Dries eventually finished 8th, while Leonard, penalized by 30 seconds for the incident, was demoted to P16. Car #3, with De Leener at the wheel, kept its P10 overall, on top of conquering 3rd in the Silver Cup.
The Blancpain Sprint Cup will finish on 15-16 September at the Nürburgring, the one event before last in this year’s Blancpain GT Series.
Blancpain Sprint Cup – Round 4
Hungaroring, Mogyorod, Hungary, 1st - 2nd September 2018
Race 1 Results:
1. Bortolotti-Engelhart (Lambo Huracán) 33 laps
2. Meadows-Marciello (Mercedes AMG) + 4s764
3. Bulatov-Jamin (Mercedes AMG) + 9s663
4. Haase-Gachet (Audi R8 LMS) +25s869
5. Vanthoor-Stevens (Audi R8 LMS) +31s817
14. De Leener-Feller (Audi R8 LMS) +1m19s221
DNF Leonard-Frijns (Audi R8 LMS) 17 laps (incident)
DNF Riberas-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) 4 laps (incident)
Race 2 results:
1. Meadows-Marciello (Mercedes AMG) 28 laps
2. Gachet-Haase (Audi R8 LMS) +1s139
3. S.Schothorst-K.vander Linde (Audi R8 LMS) +2s544
4. Riberas-Mies (Audi R8 LMS) +5s716
5. Hezemans-Perera (Lambo Huracán) +5s716
10. Feller-DeLeener (Audi R8 LMS) +15s067
16. Frijns-Leonard (Audi R8 LMS) +33s538
Provisional Blancpain Sprint Cup Drivers’ standings after Round 4 of 5:
1. Riberas-Mies 74 points
3. Bortolotti-Engelhart 56
4. K. Van der Linde-S. Schothorst 53
5. Vanthoor-Stevens 50.5
6. Leonard 49.5
Provisional Blancpain Sprint Cup Teams’ standings after Round 4 of 5:
1. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 103.5 points
2. Akka ASP 93
3. GRT Grasser 77
4. Attempto Racing 69.5
5. Saintéloc 63.5
More info on the Blancpain series, live timing and live commented TV streaming of each race on www.blancpain-gt-series.com