Team WRT took a fantastic FIA WEC LMP2 win, in front of its home crowd, in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Rui Andrade, Louis Delétraz and Robert Kubica in car #41 took the lead at the very end of a thrilling race, while Sean Gelael, Robin Frijns and Ferdinand Habsburg, also in contention for the win in car #31, crossed the finish line as sixth, after being unlucky with the safety-car.
The win comes as a perfect time, ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours in mid-June. Team WRT Principal Vincent Vosse was happy after a stressful day: “We did it, but it was really a difficult race to understand and to manage. We had to cope with a lot of strategy changes. Eventually, we were at the right place at the right moment. It looked as car #31 could win, then it was either of them, and finally it was #41, but we proved competitive with both. Rui, Louis and Robert are happy, and I am happy for them, the other team is a little bit disappointed, but this is just normal. The good thing is that we won and are second in the championship, eight points behind the leaders, as we go to Le Mans.”
It was a good start of the weekend for the Belgian squad, with a lot of work done in free practice sessions, where car #31 topped the rankings in both the second and third sessions, with Robin Frijns and Ferdinand Habsburg, on a dry and wet track, respectively.
Qualifying was successful on both sides of the garage, despite the slight disappointment of narrowly missing out on pole position. Louis Deletraz was second-fastest in car #41, securing a spot in the front row, with car #31 in second row, as Robin Frijns qualified fourth.
On the day race, a typical Belgian drizzle welcomed the participants, most of which donned slick tyres on the grid. Still, it was a relatively quiet start, with Sean Gelael in car #31 and Rui Andrade in car #41 keeping their positions, respectively second and fourth. Both Team WRT cars were on slick tyres in the first two stints, which ended with Andrade in third and Gelael in fourth.
Robin Frijns (#31) and Louis Delétraz (#41) were fourth and fifth when, in lap 41, the safety car had to intervene after a big accident at the Raidillon. The middle third of the race saw a perfect performance by the two cars and faultless pit stops and strategy, as the two cars ran close to each other and climbed positions, with Frijns eventually taking the LMP2 lead. At the mid-race mark the two cars of the Belgian squad were sitting in first and second positions, fighting hard with cars from both JOTA and United Autosports. Fate then brought bad luck to car #41 as it hit misfortune with one of the safety-car periods when Robert Kubica took the wheel, dropping him to seventh, more than one minute from the lead.
The final two hours saw both cars fighting hard, and for car #41 climbing positions, although being on different strategies. Eventually, a new safety car intervention completely changed the shape of the race as Louis Delétraz in car #41 found himself in a better position, charged hard to take second place and then reduced the gap significantly to car #23 of United Autosports of Tom Blomqvist. Both had to stop for a last splash and dash 12 minutes from the finish. The Team WRT crew was faster in the pits and that meant victory, while Robin Frijns concluded sixth, only 27 seconds behind.
Ferdinand Habsburg, #31: “Spa today was full of safety-car periods, you had to be on the right foot, and we weren’t. We took a strategy and just happened to be the wrong one, it could have gone the other way and then we would have won. Now it’s time to relax a bit, to train and prepare Le Mans as well as we can.”
Robin Frinjs (via @robinfrinjs1): "Won 4 hours of Spa! Unfortunately it was a 6 hours race. Everything looked promising but a late Safety Car ruined our potential win. It's a hard one but part of the game sometimes. The car was working well so all eyes on Le Mans!"
Sean Gelael (via @gelaelized): "God, I thank You for sunshine and rain - joy and pain. The current is pulling us away, but we just have to keep swimming."
Source: Team WRT