It was again an intense weekend for the WRT teams on the various fronts where they were involved. At Zolder, in the return of DTM to Belgium after 17 years of absence, the WRT Team Audi Sport, in what was only its second race in the series, showed progress with respect to the Hockenheim debut, proving able to fight for the top-10 in qualifying and the points in the race. Eventually, Pietro Fittipaldi’s 9thposition in Race 1 was the best result of the weekend.
At Zandvoort, in the FIA WTCR, the Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport lived a very frustrating weekend, as under the current regulatory conditions, the Audi RS 3 LMS had no pace at all. Only Jean-Karl Vernay could salvage only one small point.
It was the atmosphere of great days at Zolder, as Belgian fans welcomed the return of the DTM after a 17-year hiatus. It was also ‘home race’ for WRT Team Audi Sport in its second DTM outing ever. The Audi RS 5 DTM of the Belgian squad showed excellent pace since free practice, where they made twice the top-5, and came very close to the top-10 in both qualifying sessions.
Race 1 was heavily conditioned by a safety-car period that benefitted greatly the drivers having already made their first pit stop. Among them wasn’t Pietro Fittipaldi, who eventually took P14. Jonathan Aberdein saw his race shortened by body damage resulting from a contact with Duval, an incident that cost him also a penalty.
On the narrow track, the safety-car played also a crucial role in Race 2, and one of its appearances on the track was used by the Belgian squad to have both drivers pitting and rejoining with fresh tires. This gave them an extra boost in the closing laps, where Fittipaldi could take 9thand two more points and Aberdein closed in P12.
Vincent Vosse(Team Principal): “It has been another weekend of learning the hard way. We could have obtained a little bit more, but we take a better result than in Hockenheim, we scored again and we proved we can aim at the top-10 in both qualifying and races quite regularly. Moreover, the cars ran perfectly and had no issues. We grow…”
Jonathan Aberdein: “Another weekend with a good potential show, but unfortunately, we could not materialize that in results. I am still very confident for the future and Zolder proved that anything can happen in the DTM: you can still have very good races even when you don’t qualify well. We keep working and growing and hope in a little bit of luck”.
Pietro Fittipaldi: “I qualified well for Race 1 and was in the points area in Race 1, but the safety-car came in at the wrong time and we lost all the benefit of the first part of the race. In qualifying 2, we struggled a bit as we took a direction that did not prove to be the correct one. In the race, I had a contact at the start resulting in damage, but despite that, I pushed, had a couple of great moves and could finish in the points. I am happy, the team did a fantastic job, but we certainly have the potential to go for more.”
There were a lot of hopes as the team arrived to the neighbouring country for the Zandvoort round, almost a ‘home race’ and one that yielded great satisfaction last year. It was just the opposite this time, as the regulation gave no chance to the Audi RS 3 LMS to match the pace of competitors. Jean-Karl Vernay and Gordon Shedden struggled during the entire weekend!
A P9 in the qualifying for Race 1 for Vernay was the best result of the weekend, but yielded only a P22 in the race, following a penalty resulting from a race incident. A single point came for the Frenchman in Race 2, with his Race 3 ruined by a bent steering on the last lap. Gordon Shedden shared similar misery, although finishing all three races.
Vincent Vosse (Team Principal): “Seeing what happened at Zandvoort, but not only there, it is clear that something is not working in the series. We strongly believe in the TCR concept, but the situation needs to be addressed constructively by all parties involved.”
Jean-Karl Vernay:“It was a terrible weekend, we are very disappointed. Qualifying 1 was still good, it was very tight, but in the race I got a penalty I do not agree with. On Sunday, we could not do more despite a perfect work from all…”
Gordon Shedden:“The only positive thing of the weekend is leaving the circuit and looking forward to the next race.”
DTM - Round 2
Zolder, Belgium, 17-19 May 2019
Race 1 Result
1. Philipp Eng (BMW) 39 laps
2. Joel Eriksson (BMW) + 8s645
3. Nico Müller (Audi) + 8s829
4. Loïc Duval (Audi) +18s159
5. Mike Rockenfeller (Audi) +24s152
14. Pietro Fittipaldi (Audi) +1m09s779
DNF Jonathan Aberdein (Audi) (28 laps)
Race 2 Result
1.René Rast (Audi) 39 laps
2. Philipp Eng (BMW) + 9s845
3. Jamie Green (Audi) +11s791
- Mike Rockenfeller (Audi) +12s601
5. Sheldon Vander Linde (BMW) +13s195
9. Pietro Fittipaldi (Audi) +22s661
- Jamie Aberdein (Audi) +26s793
FIA WTCR - Round 4
Zandvoort, the Netherlands, 17-19 May 2019
Race 1 Result
1. Thed Björk (Lynk&Co 03) 12 laps
2. Yvan Muller (Lynk&Co 03) + 0s704
3. Mikel Azcona (Cupra) +1s270
4. Johan Kristoffersson (VW Golf GTi) + 3s062
5. Andy Priaulx (Lynk&Co 03) + 3s631
17. Gordon Shedden (Audi RS 3 LMS) + 15s483
22. Jean-Karl Vernay (Audi RS 3 LMS) + 21s525
Race 2 Result
1. Esteban Guerrieri (Honda Civic) 14 laps
2. Benjamin Leuchter (Volkswagen Golf GTi)+ 0s263
3. Johan Kristoffersson (VW Golf GTi) + 0s711
4. Nicky Catsburg (Hyundai i30N) + 1s669
5. Mikel Azcona (Cupra) + 2s035
15. Jean-Karl Vernay (Audi RS 3 LMS) +117s118
22. Gordon Shedden (Audi RS 3 LMS) +17s185
Race 3 Result
1.Thed Björk (Lynk&Co 03) 15 laps
2. Yann Ehrlacher (Lynk&Co 03) +0s830
3. Norbert Michelisz (Hyundai i30N) +2s377
4. Augusto Farfus (Hyundai i30N) +2s995
5. Yvan Muller (Lynk&Co 03) +3s658
25. Gordon Shedden (Audi RS 3 LMS) +23s677
26. Jean-Karl Vernay (Audi RS 3 LMS) +29s621