A matter of seconds
Starting from 54th place, Audi carved its way through the field for a podium finish at Spa.
A podium for Audi and another three Audi Sport customer cars in the top 10 made the 100th running of the Spa 24 Hours an event to remember.
2 August, 2021
Although starting near the back in 54th, by the fourth hour they had fought their way into the top four
At the end of 24 hours of racing at Spa on the weekend it came down to just 3.9 seconds. That was the time between the Audi Sport Team WRT R8 LMS GT3 of Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde and Charles Weerts and first place in the 100th anniversary Spa 24 Hours. A great result for the team, albeit agonisingly close to victory, but an absolutely tremendous result when you realise that this particular Audi team started from 54th on the grid.
As is always the case with endurance racing, a million details and incidents all go together to impact the result. For the trio of Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde and Charles Weerts, the weekend didn’t start especially well, and you would have been forgiven for thinking that their chances of finishing in the points were extremely slim at best.
Deprived of a chance to finish even one lap in qualifying thanks to two red flags, the team were faced with the daunting proposition of having to start from the third-last row of the grid, way back in 54th position.
But, despite this handicap and appalling wet weather at the start of the race, the #32 R8 LMS carved its way through the field and by the fourth hour was racing ‘at the pointy end’, in the top four.
And here they spent the majority of the race, fighting it out with Ferrari as well as the weather which made tyre changes crucial as the heavens opened up again and again. This in turn led to a wealth of accidents that meant safety car periods which allowed the remaining contenders to bunch up again and dissolve any lead one may have built up.
In the end it came down to a strategic last hour, with pit stops and tyre changes crucial ahead of the final sprint to the finish. For the Audi Sport Team WRT, that sprint finished just 3.9 seconds behind the eventual winner, but an enormously satisfying result after such a trying Spa event.
“This was brilliant motorsport with an absolute heart-stopping finale,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “Our drivers Kelvin, Dries and Charles together with Audi Sport Team WRT delivered great sport. After being 4.6 seconds behind a year ago, the gap was even smaller this year.”
In addition to the second place result, three other Audi Sport customer racing teams finished in the top 10, with Robin Frijns, Dennis Lind and Nico Müller in the #37 Audi Sport Team WRT fishing just off the podium in fourth. Christopher Haase, Markus Winkelhock and Patric Niederhauser brought the Audi Sport Team Saintéloc car home in sixth, with the Audi Sport Team Attempto R8 LMS of Christopher Mies, Mattia Drudi and Dennis Marschall completing the top Audi results in ninth.
As well as the four Audi Sport cars at Spa, four of the five private R8 LMS cars entered also crossed the finish line at the end of the gruelling race.
The Intercontinental GT Challenge now heads to Indianapolis in October for the eight-hour race, before the final race of the series in 2021 at famed Kyalami circuit in South Africa. Audi Sport customer racing currently leads the manufacturer’s championship in the series with a 15 point advantage over nearest rival, Ferrari.
As well as the four Audi Sport cars at Spa, four of the five private R8 LMS cars finished the gruelling challenge
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