GT1 World: Lessons to be learned for Audi

After a stunning double one-two win in the opening round in Nogaro, the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT endured a difficult weekend at home in Zolder. A wrong choice of tyres left the Audis R8 LMS ultra of Oliver Jarvis/ Frank Stippler and Laurens Vanthoor/Stephane Ortelli out of the points in the Qualifying Race, while in the main event, in their effort to climb up positions, the two cars made contact, finishing 6th and 10th.

The team did however manage to retain the leadership in both the drivers’ and teams’ standings, ahead of the third round in one month’s time.

The start of Race 1 was given after a sudden shower, with the track completely wet and everybody on rain tyres. Jarvis kept second position throughout his stint, behind Peter Kox (Reiter Lamborghini) who was given a stop-and-go penalty for having jumped the start, while Ortelli took a cautious start and later settled in 7th position.

Track conditions changed dramatically during the pit stop window, but by the time the two Belgian Audis stopped, the switch to slick tyres was not the most obvious option and both cars put on wets. Stippler and Vanthoor rejoined the race in first and fourth position, respectively, but it took only a few minutes to realize that the track was drying fast and a second pit stop was necessary for both cars, which eventually ended 11th and 12th, respectively.

“It was a mistake and we have to admit it collectively as a team,” said team principal Vincent Vosse. “Drivers and management took together the decision to stay on wet tyres and it was the wrong one. The drivers were maybe not too assertive on what the track conditions were, and the pit wall may have been too conservative. We will analyse what happened and correct the way we communicate via radio in such moments, when you have to take fast decision. We win and we lose together.”

Sunday at least some useful points. The race started on a damp but drying track. This time, the tyre choice (slick) was correct and so was the choice to pit as late as possible, as Jarvis and Ortelli were 4th and 6th respectively at the beginning of the second half of the race. A slight off-track of Jarvis brought the two Audis together later in the race and in the heath for climbing up positions, there was a contact between the two cars.

Eventually, Ortelli-Vanthoor took 6th and Jarvis-Stippler 10th. “It’s never pleasant to have a race incident between the two cars of the team,” said sporting director Pierre Dieudonné. “But these things may happen when you have top level drivers that are true racers. Nobody wants taxi-drivers that wait for orders.”

(Image: Gerlach Delissen)