The second round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Silverstone did not yield the results hoped by the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. The weekend in Northamptonshire ended with a 13th position as best finish, obtained by car #17 of Jamie Green-Stuart Leonard-Jake Dennis, with only the other car (#3) of Josh Caygill-Niki Mayr Melnhof-Jonathan Venter finishing the race.
Regardless of the incidents that affected the two other cars of Stéphane Richelmi-Bénoît Tréluyer-Nathanaël Berthon (#2) and Dries Vanthoor-Will Stevens-Marcel Fässler (#5), what seen at Silverstone proves that the field is not correctly balanced in this first part of the season.
Team Principal Vincent Vosse was quite concerned on Sunday evening: “It’s another weekend to forget and we are extremely disappointed, but what is more concerning is that we have never been put in a position to compete. When you make mistakes or have technical issues, or the others do much better, you have to accept it. Here, the best Audi in qualifying, one of our cars, was 21st and there are no other Audis in front of us in the race… It shows that there is an issue that needs to be discussed urgently… »
From the start of the weekend, it was clear that the Audis R8 LMS had not the same pace as some of their rivals, regardless of the tough competition and the huge field of over 50 cars. This was confirmed in qualifying, with the best Audi, car #5 of Will Stevens taking only 21st fastest lap time, one second and a half from the pole. Car #17 qualified in P28, car #2 in P42 and car #3 in P49.
With these premises, the 3-hour race was clearly not going to be easy. Things got bitter for car #2 since the initial phases, as Stéphane Richelmi was involved in a contact with a gentleman driver. The stewards imposed a very heavy sanction (a stop-and-go of 5 minutes!) to the Monegasque, ruining the race of the car, which later had another race incident with Bénoît Tréluyer at the wheel, and was withdrawn. In car #5, Dries Vanthoor and Will Stevens had a good start of the race, making it to the top 15 before encountering electronic problems affecting the throttle and retiring, leaving Marcel Fässler as a spectator.
Car #17 with Jamie Green, Stuart Leonard and Jake Dennis ran smoothly and quickly, taking also advantage of an excellent race strategy against the full-course yellow periods, climbing as high as 8th before having to concede some positions in the final stint against faster cars to finish in P13. Car #3 of Josh Caygill, Niki Mayr-Melnhof and Jonathan Venter had a consistent race in the group, only marked by a contact from the back received by Niki which prompted an extra pit stop, to eventually finish in P31.
The next round of the Endurance Cup will be the double-distance event (1000 kms) at Circuit Paul Ricard on 24-25 June.
Race Race results:
1. Bortolotti-Caldarelli-Engelhart (Lambo Huacán), 83 laps
2. Perera-Buhk-Eriksson (Mercedes AMG), + 0s344
3. Marciello-Mortara-Meadows (Mercedes AMG), + 3s072
4. Molina-Shaytar-Rigon (Ferrari 488), + 5s871
5. Soulet-Soucek-Abril (Bentley Continental), +28s330
13. Green-Leonard-Dennis, +1m21s123
31. MayrMelnhof-Venter-Caygill (Audi R8 LMS), +1 laps
DNF Stevens-Fässler-Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS), 36 laps (mechanical)
DNS Berthon-Richelmi-Tréluyer (Audi R8 LMS), 36 laps (mechanical)