2018
28.09

RACE PREVIEW

> The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in bid for four titles at Blancpain GT Series finale in Barcelona

 

The Blancpain GT Series 2018 season is coming to an end this weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where the last round of the Endurance Cup is scheduled. Fans will enjoy a terrific show, as 53 cars have been entered to the 3-hour race and many overall and class titles are still to be awarded. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, after having secured the Teams’ title in the Sprint Cup, is in contention for four crowns: Teams’ and Drivers’ in both the Endurance Cup and the overall Blancpain GT Series. The chances are not the same in each of these championships, which makes the task of the Belgian squad not simple but the strategy easier: give it all! The team will field its standard entry of two Audis R8 LMS for Dries Vanthoor-Álex Riberas-Christopher Mies and Stuart Leonard-Robin Frijns-Sheldon Van der Linde.

 

Looking more closely at the standings situation, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is leading in the Teams’ standings of the overall Blancpain GT Series by only one point ahead of Akka ASP, thus with no margin for mistakes. In the Teams’ standings of the Endurance Cup, the Belgian squad is fourth, 7 points from the top while 25 drivers are still in the game.

 

In the Drivers’ overall Blancpain GT Series, Álex Riberas and Christopher Mies are second, 18.5 points behind Raffaele Marciello, with no other contenders. In the Drivers competition of the Endurance Cup, the trio of car #1, Vanthoor-Riberas-Mies is fourth, 11 points aback from the leader, again Marciello.   

 

Team Principal Vincent Vosse draws a clear conclusion from all this: “There is no room for calculations, we have to go for it and be in full-attack mode from the beginning. It’s being a very intense and exciting end of the season in the Blancpain, and it’s positive to be again in a position to fight for all the titles. At the Nürburgring, we lived a terrific finale of the Sprint Cup, where we conquered the Teams’ title but missed the Drivers’ one. Still, I am very proud of how we fought until the very end, and this gives us extra motivation for Barcelona. We did well there last season, taking P2 after close fight, and we’ll have to be even better this year. This is the home track of Álex Riberas and I am sure he’ll be even more willing to take a revenge in his own turf…”

 

Reflecting on the season, Vosse adds: “It has been a very busy season for us, being present on so many fronts, in GT3 racing and Touring cars. I think we have never been working so much as this year! It is not over, as after the end of the European season, we’ll have some crucial international commitments ahead of us, like Laguna Seca and Macau, where we will be defending the colours of Audi Sport with two cars, having done so also at Bathurst, the Nürburgring, Spa and Suzuka. I am proud of seeing our relationship with Audi consolidating even more.”

 

In car #1, Dries Vanthoor-Àlex Riberas-Christopher Mies, have a crucial weekend ahead of them, as they are still in contention for both Drivers’ titles, but in a ‘challenger’ position. Full attack is basically the only option left, but as underlines Vanthoor, “this is the rule in the Blancpain GT Series anyway, given the level of competitiveness it has reached. We haven’t been that lucky this season, so I really hope things will change for the last round. I really want to finish on a high!”

 

Barcelona, of course, will be even more special for one driver of the #1 car, Àlex Riberas, as this is his home town and track. “It will definitely be a special and great moment for me”, reckons the Spaniard, “and I really look forward to this weekend! I know the track very well and not having raced there with a GT3 car poses no issue. The Audi has proven very competitive at Barcelona last year and it will be crucial to be  upfront since the beginning of the event, especially in qualifying, given the huge entry.  We still have chances to win titles, but we will be in the hunter’s position rather than in the one of the hunted, which means that the pressure is on our rivals and not on us.  Being at home, I will be supported by family, friends and fans. I see this as a privilege and it gives me extra motivation. For me, it has been a terrific first season with the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, I am happy to have been able to contribute with my performance level and proud of the recognition received. I really feel being part of a family.”  

 

For the trio of car #17, Stuart Leonard-Robin Frijns-Sheldon Van der Linde, there are no personal interests in the Drivers’ standings at stake in this race, but the three drivers are determined to help the team and repeat the excellent performance put here last year, as confirms Stuart Leonard: “It was a good race for us in 2017, coming second and fighting for victory until last corner. It would be nice to do the same. Clearly, our objective is to support the team’s effort as best as we can: collect heavy points and help our team mates if they need it. I like the track, but haven’t driven there since it was resurfaced. It will be interesting to see how this plays. Like Silverstone and Le Castellet, the resurfacing has been done according to F.1 demands, and the result is sometimes surprising in terms of grip, especially when wet, which shouldn’t be the case here.”  

 

The Barcelona event will kick-off with free practice on Saturday morning, followed by Pre-qualifying, with Qualifying taking place on Sunday morning. The 3-hour race will kick-off at 3 pm on Sunday.  

 

Blancpain Endurance Cup – Round 5
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmeló, Spain, 28-30 September 2018

 

Timetable (all in local time = CET)

 

Friday 28 September 2018
15:55-16:55 Bronze test

 

Saturday 29 September 2018
09:00-10:30 Free practice

16:45-18:15 Pre-qualifying session

 

Sunday 30 September 2018

09:00-10:00 Qualifying
15:00-18:00 Race (3 hrs)

 

Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entries
# 1 Dries Vanthoor (B) – Christopher Mies (D) – Álex Riberas (E)
#17 Stuart Leonard (GB) – Sheldon van der Linde (ZA) – Robin Frijns (NL)

 

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

 

1. Marciello 48 points

2. Engel-Stolz-Buurman 47

3. Krognes-Eng-Blomqvist 43

4. Vanthoor-Riberas-Mies 37

5. K. Van der Linde 36

7. S. Van der Linde 34

23. Frijns 14

32. Müller-Rast 8

36. Leonard 6

 

Provisional Blancpain Endurance Cup Teams’ standings after Round 1 of 5:

 

1. Emil Frey Racing 58 points

2. Akka ASP 54

3. Black Falcon Racing 52

4. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 51

5. Walkenhorst Motorsport 44

                                            

Provisional Blancpain GT Series Drivers’ standings after Round 9 of 10:

 

1. Marciello 146 points

2. Riberas-Mies 127.5

3. Meadows 104

4. K. Van der Linde 101

5. Vanthoor 100.5

9. Stevens 63.5

12. Leonard 50.5

17. Vervisch 43

29. Frijns 27

etc

 

Provisional Blancpain GT Series Teams’ standings after Round 3 of 10:

 

1. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 174 points

2. Akka ASP 173

3. GRT Grasser RT 111

4. Saintéloc 109.5

5. Emil Frey Racing 108.5

 

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

 

Picture: Patrick Hecq

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