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GTWC: Audi wins first endurance cup race in two years

Text & Images: Rick Kiewiet

In a race broken up by FCY's and safety car phases, Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts and Kelvin van der Linde gave Audi their first Endurance Cup victory since Imola 2020. The victory gave color to the debut of the new Audi R8 GT3 Evo II. A mere 6 seconds behind the WRT trio finished the #88 AKKODIS ASP Mercedes of Raffaele Marciello, Jules Gounon and Dani Juncadella. The #2 GetSpeed Mercedes of Luca Stolz, Maro Engel and Steijn Schothorst took hold of the final podium step. Honors in the Silver Cup also went to WRT, as Thomas Neubauer, Benjamin Goethe and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer stayed ahead of the #99 Attempto Audi of Marius Zug, Nicholas Schöll and Alex Aka.

At the start of the race, Weerts managed to defend the lead from Mies in the #25 Sainteloc Audi, but after a mistake lost the lead. With an undercut during the first pit stop phase, the #32 WRT Audi, now with van der Linde behind the wheel, managed to overtake the lead as Lucas Legeret came out of the pits. The #95 Beechdean, which Thiim brought in at the same time as Weerts, was squeezed into third with the same strategy, pointing the #88 AKKODIS ASP Mercedes of (now) Juncadella back to 4th.

Even though van der Linde was cleary a bit quicker than Legeret in the Sainteloc Audi, who in turn slightly held up Sorensen and Juncadella behind him, again a couple of FCY's prevented him from really breaking away, constantly eliminating the gap at every safety car.

Making the final pit stop a lap later than the leaders finally took the #95 Beechdean Aston out of contention for the win. Martin dropped to the belly of the field. In front, Vanthoor, now in the #32 managed to fend of the Mercedes' of Gounon and Stolz to secure the win in the final part of the race. Behind Stolz, the #12 Tresor by Car Collection Audi of Haase, Drudi and Ghiotto finished 4th. A good performance from the #111 JP Motorsport McLaren of Klien, Abril and Lind. The were consistently found at the front of the field with their new McLaren 720 GT3 and succesfully held of the #54 Dinamic Porsche of Bachler, Engelhart and Ledogar, and both Iron Lynx Ferrari's.

The #25 Sainteloc Audi of early leaders Haase, Niederhauser en Legeret eventually finished 9th, the #38 JOTA McLaren completed the top-10.

In its official debut, the BMW M4 GT3 scored an 11th place at the finished. Fans' favorite Valentino Rossi and teammates Fred Vervisch and Nico Müller found themselves back in p17 after a drive-through penalty.


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