Representing Belgium in the FIA GT Nations Cup this weekend at Bahrain, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has shone brightly with its duo composed of Charles Weerts and Mike Den Tandt. In this new competition that saw 18 GT3 cars in action, each representing a nation, both Belgians both signed a pole position, in their respective qualifying session, before dominating the first Qualifying Race. Unfortunately, in Qualifying Race 2, Charles Weerts was hit from the back at first corner. Rejoining the race in last position, the 17-years-old driver, at his debut with GTs, climbed back many positions but his charge was slowed by a puncture, a likely consequence of the first lap incident.
Sixth on the grid for the Final Race, the Audi R8 LMS GT3 proudly sporting Belgium’s traditional yellow livery, was still among the favorites at the start of the decisive race. Unluckily, Mike Den Tandt was sandwiched by two rivals even before the first corner, finishing his race in the gravel trap. It was a sour closing to a venture that deserved a much better outcome.
«We are clearly disappointed », admitted Vincent Vosse, Team Principal of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. « Charles, Mike and our Audi R8 LMS GT3 had the pace to offer Belgium the win in this first FIA GT Nations Cup! The events unfolded negatively for us. Without the puncture in the second Qualifying Race, we would have started up-front and Mike would not have been sandwiched. Still, with “ifs” and ‘’buts’’, one could put the Bahrain desert in a bottle… In both race incidents, our drivers were not faulty. It’s racing and you have to accept a degree of luck. This time, it went against us. Looking at the positive side, we can say that we put together a very competitive duo, composed of one Silver and one Bronze driver, as per this Cup’s regulation. At his debut with GT cars, Charles Weerts has proved very capable despite his young age, while Mike Den Tandt, who was back to racing after a long break in his career, showed he hasn’t lost anything of his talent. »
Virtually unknown on the GT scene, both drivers definitely put themselves in the picture! After two seasons in Formula 4, Charles Weerts discovered GT3 racing and adapted quickly to the Audi R8 LMS. « Personally, I am quite happy with my performance level », said the Aubel-born driver, « but I feel a great frustration, as I think we could have obtained a great result. At the start of the second Qualifying Race, I was in pole, but got passed by a Mercedes and two Ferraris. I took no risks, got into the first corner properly and was touched by someone behind me, spinning. Then, my pace was very good despite a slow puncture that I didn’t really notice. I want to thank the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT for the fantastic work done. »
Mike Den Tandt felt as hopeless as his team mate at the start of the Final Race. «I was between two Ferraris», explains the former single-seater driver, « I think I kept my line, but both rivals closed in and I was almost simultaneously hit on the left and on the right. It destabilized my car and sent it into the gravel. That was it! I did nothing silly and feel very sorry for the team… As we proved in qualifying and in the first race, we had the pace to fight at the front… Still, I will keep an excellent memory of this project. Vincent’s call, the tests at Barcelona, the preparation race at Dubai and then, this weekend… I felt like in a dream. I could see how professional the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is. I never experienced this before in my career! I now understand why they are so successful and I only dream of … having again the opportunity to work with them. »
> FIA GT Nations Cup: the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT deserved better!