2018
13.09

RACE PREVIEW

> Team WRT heads to the Nürburgring for the Sprint Cup’s decisive tie-break

 

The final and decisive round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint cup could not have a more fitting scenery: the Nürburgring. The legendary track in the Eifel hills has seen many feats that have made motorsports history and another chapter will be written this weekend. All ingredients for suspense are included, as two driver pairs get to the final round tied in points: Álex Riberas-Christopher Mies and Raffaele Marciello-Michael Meadows both have 74 points. The pair of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has the right to be cited first, as it has one win more than its rival duo, but the real tie-break will happen on the German track. Needless to say, for the Belgian squad, one of the top objectives will be to have car #1 secure the title and put it back on top of the Blancpain GT Series overall standings that it had to give to the same rivals after the last round in Hungary. In the fight for the Sprint Cup Teams’ title, the Belgian Audis R8 have still a 9.5 points advantage but the fight is far from settled. The squad will go for the crown with its standard 4-car entry.

 

Team Principal Vincent Vosse is ready for the challenge ahead this weekend: “Once again we find ourselves in a ‘grand finale’ for the titles. The Nürburgring weekend will definitely be an interesting one. We haven’t forgotten last year’s battle, when the champion changed a number of times in the last laps of the last race. We can expect an equally tough final round this year. What I can say is that we are super-motivated and well-prepared for the battle, in both the teams’ and Drivers’ standings, where we’ll support the best we can our driver teams still in contention for the title, which are no less than three!.”

 

In car #1, and in P1 of the standings with the same points as their direct rivals, Álex Riberas and Christopher Mies have few dilemmas in their minds: they know they will have to go for it if they want to bring home the Sprint Cup title and be part of the final duel for the Blancpain GT Series overall crown that will be decided in the last Endurance Cup round at Barcelona. Interestingly enough, each of the two drivers will play one of these finals at their respective home track! “For sure, the Nürburgring is a very important race”, reckons Riberas, “but we don’t have to focus excessively on the championship. What we have to do is stay focused on doing things well, like we have done throughout the season: to qualify well, do solid races and have smooth pit stops. If that happens, we will be fighting on top for sure, and the ‘Ring is a track we like and where the Audi R8 LMS can express all its potential”.

 

In car #2, Dries Vanthoor and Will Stevens will certainly want to finish the season on a high, and they know that they are perfectly capable of doing it. Theoretically, they can still be crowned, although lying 22,5 points aback from the top (and with 34 points still to be allocated), their chances seem slim. Still, as underlined by the young Belgian, selfishness won’t be on their agenda: “The Audis can perform well at the Nürburgring, like we showed last year, and we all like the track, but our main objective will be to help the team and car #1, if needed. It’s useless to strategize much in advance, we’ll see what happens on the track. It may be that our help is not needed or useless, and we’ll act accordingly.”

 

The feeling is pretty much similar among drivers of car #17, entrusted to Stuart Leonard-Robin Frijns: mathematics say that Stuart Leonard (30.5 points away from the leaders) is still in the race for the title, but retaining the title crown appears tough, as the Brit explains: “I will never give up until there is a chance, but clearly, the situation is quite different from last year, the gap is bigger and the first two are far ahead in points. Unfortunately, one bad weekend at the Hungaroring has changed the situation, but one could say that it is already not bad to be in contention for the title for the second year in a row.”

 

In car #2, Adrien De Leener and Ricardo Feller will aim at more positive results in their third outing of the season, having scored points in the previous two and visited already the Silver Cup podium. Strong of his excellent debut with the team, Ricardo Feller feels very confident. “I am really happy of working with the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT”, reckons the determined 18-year-old from the Aargau Canton, “I have found extremely professional people in all department, and that’s what I like and what it has to be! We haven’t been completely lucky in the two previous races, so I definitely think we can do better, and that is what we’ll try at the ‘Ring. I have never race on the GP layout of the track, but that won’t be an issue, and I have been working a lot on the simulator.”

 

The Nürburgring weekend will again be structured on a 3-day format, with free practice on Friday, qualifying and Race 1 (at 14:05) on Saturday and Race 2 kicking-off on Sunday at 16:00.

 

Blancpain Sprint Cup – Round 5
Nürburgring, Germany, 14th – 16th September 2018

 

Timetable (all in local time = CET)
 

Friday 14th September 2018
09:45-11:05 Free Practice 1
14:35-15:55 Free Practice 2


Saturday 15th September 2018
09:30-10:20 Qualifying
14:05-15:05 Race 1
 

Sunday 16th September 2018
16:00-17:00 Race 2

 

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entries
# 1 Álex Riberas (E) – Christopher Mies (D)
# 2 Dries Vanthoor (B) – Will Stevens (GB)
#3 Adrien de Leener (B) – Ricardo Feller (CH) Silver Cup
#17 Stuart Leonard (GB) – Robin Frijns (NL)
 

Provisional Blancpain Sprint Cup Drivers’ standings after Round 4 of 5:

1. Riberas-Mies 74 points

2. Marciello-Meadows 74

3. Bortolotti-Engelhart 57.5

4. K.Vander Linde-S.Schothorst  53

5. Vanthoor-Stevens 51.5

6. Leonard 43.5

9. Vervisch 25

13. Frijns 12

17. Picariello-Magnus 7.5

24. De Leener-Feller 1

 

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 RT 77

4. Attempto Racing 69.5

5. Saintéloc 63.5

 

Provisional Blancpain GT Series Drivers’ standings after Round 8 of 10:

1. Marciello 122 points

2. Riberas-Mies 111

3. K.Vander Linde 89

4. Vanthoor 88.5

5. Meadows 80

 

Provisional Blancpain GT Series Teams’ standings after Round 8 of 10:

1. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 153.5 points

2. Akka ASP 147

3. Emil Frey Racing 95.5

4. Saintéloc 95.5

5. GRT Grasser RT 93

 

More info on the Blancpain series, live timing and live commented TV streaming of each race on www.blancpain-gt-series.com

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