In the second longest race of the year for the Fanatec GT World Endurance Cup, only two cars from the Belgian team reached the finish, scoring a handful of points: Augusto Farfus, Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi finished eighth overall, while Adam Carroll, Lewis Proctor and Tim Whale took fifth in the Bronze Cup.
Unfortunately, the other two cars were forced to retire as they fought for the overall podium places, in the case of the #32 car with Sheldon Van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, and in the Gold Cup, for the car n°30 of Nicklas Kruetten, Calan Williams and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer. They suffered contact damage and a mechanical issue, respectively.
Team Principal Vincent Vosse was disappointed after the race: “What a difficult weekend for us, we have a lot to learn. The competition here was particularly tough, especially the Mercedes, but we could still have hoped for good results. Unfortunately, two cars were taken out of the race, the n°32 due to a racing incident and the n°30 due to a technical problem that we need to identify and analyze. Now let’s focus on Spa, focus on what we need to fix and hope for better results there.
With a field of 57 cars, it was clear that the weekend was going to be extremely competitive. On a track with very long straights, the BMW M4 GT3s struggled to reach top speed during free practice and pre-qualifying. Yet in qualifying the #32 car managed to take ninth place on the grid, the #46 car in 20th after a puncture in Vale’s race, caused by contact from a competitor in the lane of stalls. The #30 car qualified fourth in the Gold Cup and the #31 car qualified 16th among the Bronze cars.
At the start, Charles Weerts moved up two positions and Valentino Rossi lost one, with Calan Williams and Tim Whale advancing through the field. However, the safety car was deployed at the end of the first lap following incidents at the back of the group. After the restart, Weerts managed to pass two Ferraris and move up to fifth before leveling off to sixth in his second consecutive stint and starting an epic battle with an Audi. Rossi completed a perfect double stint climbing to 14th, with Williams taking second place in the Gold Cup and Whale performing a very solid double stint, finishing eighth in the Bronze category.
In the last moments of the second hour, a first blow hit the Belgian team, since Weerts was forced to retire following a slight contact with a Ferrari which broke the steering of car n°32. Unfortunately, another disappointment occurred a few laps later, when Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, who had taken over the wheel of car n°30 shortly before, was forced to stop on the track, suspected of having an engine problem.
The two remaining cars had a relatively calm rest of the race. The #46 car had to serve a five-second track limits penalty on the second pit stop, which momentarily dropped Augusto Farfus from 10th to 17th, but he then moved into the top 10. the No. 31 car, Lewis Proctor doubled the middle stint, remaining in the top 10 of the Bronze class.
In the last two hours, Maxime Martin climbed to eighth place, which would be the final position for the #46 car, while Adam Carroll experienced a similar progression, up to fifth in his class.
Calan Williams (car #30): “We definitely had good pace, battling for second in class on my double stint. It’s a shame to lose the car like we did, we still don’t know what happened, it’s just one of those unlucky things. Now we are looking forward to Spa! We will definitely be up there in the Gold class and we will have another chance to show what we can do.
Lewis Proctor (car n°31): “A good weekend, we learned a lot about the car and we will go to Spa well prepared. Qualifying was a struggle but the guys did an amazing job! Tim and Adam did very good stints, we started 15th and finished fifth, not far from the podium. So if we can start higher at Spa, we could definitely fight for a podium.
Charles Weerts (Car n°32): “The incident was unfortunate. Our two cars were side by side, I tried to reduce and we touched slightly. It wasn’t a big hit actually, but obviously in the wrong place. After that, the steering no longer worked. It’s a shame because we had a good chance of getting a good result, but that’s how it is. We will now focus on the next race at Spa.
Valentino Rossi (car n°46): “In the end, we finished eighth, it’s not a bad result, because we started from 20th place. Obviously we wanted more, but we finished in the top 10 after a good race which is good preparation before Spa.
The Mercedes Marciello-Boguslavskiy-Gounon trio won the race on Saturday evening.