Class victory and further customer successes for Audi Sport at Spa
- 1-2 victory for Audi privateer in Silver Cup at 24-hour race
- Audi Sport Team Attempto advances from 65th to twelfth place
- Goethe/Neubauer/Simmenauer take over Endurance championship lead
A total of eleven customer drivers from Audi Sport customer racing’s private teams return from Belgium with a trophy: Benjamin Goethe/Thomas Neubauer/Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer in Team WRT’s Audi R8 LMS won the Silver Cup at the Spa 24 Hours. Second place went to Alex Aka/Juuso Puhakka/Nicolas Schöll/Marius Zug from Team Attempto Racing. And in the Gold Cup classification, Team WRT with Ulysse de Pauw/Arnold Robin/Maxim Robin/Ryuichiro Tomita finished second after a fight to catch up. Meanwhile, Audi Sport customer racing with its drivers and the Audi Sport squads proved its unbroken competitive spirit at the 74th edition of the endurance race after various setbacks.
From the start of the race, the number 30 Audi of Goethe/Neubauer/Simmenauer was one of the favorites in the Silver Cup. In the sixth hour of racing, the GT3 sports car of Team WRT replaced the Audi customer team Tresor by Car Collection at the top of this category. From the 16th hour of racing onwards, Team WRT and Attempto Racing, as Silver leaders, circled the seven-kilometer rollercoaster track in the Ardennes in formation. In the final phase, a three-way battle with Lamborghini offered thrilling sport in this class.
At the finish, Goethe, who has both German and Danish nationality, and his two French driver colleagues Thomas Neubauer and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer had a 1.22-minute lead over Aka/Puhakka/Schöll/Zug. With 19 participants, the Silver Cup is the second strongest class in the field. The successful trio are now also championship leaders in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Silver Cup. “Congratulations to our customers from WRT and Attempto Racing on their fine results,” says Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “We are particularly pleased that this is not their first success this year. At the Dubai 24 Hours, Thomas Neubauer managed overall victory in January in an Audi ahead of Benjamin Goethe and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer. We would have liked to have raced for our fifth overall victory at Spa with our Audi Sport teams as well but there were too many adversities this weekend. Still, a big thank you to everyone because they remained highly motivated until the end.”
Audi Sport Team Tresor and Audi Sport Team Attempto each suffered a puncture in the first hour of the race. Both Audi R8 LMS cars dropped to the rear of the 66-car field. Attempto’s number 66 still finished in a respectable twelfth place after a comeback race. All three Audi Sport drivers proved their skills in the process: Young drivers Ricardo Feller and Dennis Marschall contributed as much as veteran Markus Winkelhock, who won the race in 2014 and 2017. Audi Sport Team Tresor, on the other hand, had further bad luck after the tire failure. The number 12 Audi Sport drivers Mattia Drudi/Christopher Haase and their teammate Luca Ghiotto lost further time due to a collision with an opponent. Therefore, the team withdrew the car after 92 laps. The number 11 sister car from Tresor by Car Collection, like the number 26 from Saintéloc Racing and the number 10 from Boutsen Racing, retired already on Saturday due to accidents.
Ups and downs also characterized the further course of the race in which Audi thrilled with catch-up races: Audi Sport Team Saintéloc lost 35 minutes after a collision around 2 a.m. due to the repair of a damaged radiator. Privateer Lucas Légeret and his two Audi Sport teammates Patric Niederhauser and Christopher Mies, who became a father at the weekend, still improved from 29th to 19th place by the time they reached the finish.
Audi Sport driver Charles Weerts in the number 32 of Audi Sport Team WRT was forced to brake sharply after sunrise on lap 295 at the exit of the La Source hairpin to avoid a very slow-moving opponent. Teammate Nico Müller, who directly followed him, had no chance in this blind hairpin. He hit the Audi in front of him with his number 46 car. Among other things, he damaged the Audi’s suspension, forcing the number 32 car to retire. Müller’s teammate Valentino Rossi, who was cheered by countless fans, took over the cockpit after eight minutes of repairs. Together with the motorcycle world champion, Audi Sport drivers Müller and Frédéric Vervisch crossed the finish line in 17th place. Team WRT with its number 33 recorded another finish. Ulysse de Pauw/Arnold Robin/Maxim Robin/Ryuichiro Tomita, who had initially slid into the gravel trap and dropped back to position 58, improved to 24th overall, thus finishing second in the Gold Cup. The number 31 sister car of Finlay Hutchison/Diego Menchaca/Lewis Proctor saw the checkered flag in 39th place after a gearbox change.
While Audi has already celebrated two 24-hour overall victories this year at the races in Dubai and at the Nürburgring, it’s now all about the final spurt in the GT World Challenge for the customer teams. In various classifications from Sprint, Endurance and Overall, several Audi teams and their drivers are in promising positions.