Belgian Audi Club Team WRT proved too hot to handle on a weekend of glorious sunshine at Kent’s historic Brands Hatch circuit. The Baudour-based squad completed a clean sweep that began with two pole positions on Saturday and ended with a brace of wins on Sunday afternoon.
After starting from pole position, Dries Vanthoor and Will Stevens, driving the #2 Team Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS took the victory in Race 1 with Alex Riberas and Christopher Mies claiming second step on the podium for the sister #1 Team WRT Audi entry, 1.192 seconds behind. Final podium position went to the #88 Akka ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Michael Meadows and Raffaele Marciello.
“There was huge pressure from the guys behind, so I had to focus on what I was doing because it’s always difficult to overtake here.” said Stevens.
“We were very strong on the Indy section of the circuit, then struggling more with the car around the rest of the track.
“We had a great pitstop – one of our best, to be honest – and we’re very happy with the result.”
Vanthoor was comfortable at the head of the field during the first stint and gradually edging away from the #66 Attempto Racing Audi of Steijn Schothorst. After Vanthoor had handed over to Will Stevens, the #2 Audi experienced a prolonged attack from behind; Kelvin van der Linde, at the wheel of the #66 machine put up a spirited battle for top spot, only to find Stevens impossible to pass.
It was an impressive display of defensive driving from the British ace, who resisted for half an hour of fierce racing to seal victory on home turf.
The lead battle eventually grew to include Christopher Mies, who had taken over the #1 WRT-Audi from Alex Riberas, and the #88 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG of Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows.
Van der Linde picked up a puncture towards the end of the race, struggling during the closing minutes. Mies spotted a gap and went past the South African driver into turn 1, with Marciello also muscling his way through, the move handing WRT the 1-2 for the race.
Van der Linde tumbled down the order to P8 on the closing lap, with the puncture leaving the Attempto racer struggling to even make the chequered flag.
Race 2 followed a similar pattern to the first, with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT once again securing a one-two finish. This time it was the #17 machine that stole the show, with Frederic Vervisch leading away from pole and maintaining a small lead over the #2 car, which was driven by Mies during the first stint.
Behind them the #66 Attempto entry produced a great start to leap from fifth to third, with Van der Linde eager to make up for the lost podium in Race 1.
Mies was the first of the leaders to stop, handing over to Riberas, and Vervisch was soon replaced in the #17 by Leonard.
The #17 emerged with a very narrow advantage over the sister Audi R8 LMS. Once again the two leaders were nose-to-tail, with the #66 Attempto-Audi of Schothorst closing up to make it a three-way fight.
Leonard remained cool under pressure, keeping Riberas at bay and opened a narrow advantage by the closing stages to secure a first Blancpain GT Series win of the season for both of the #17 Audi drivers.
Schothorst was untroubled on his way to P3, securing a second podium of the season for the impressive Attempto-Audi squad.
Following their race 1 win, the #2 Audi endured a nightmare second outing as Stevens suffered damage and dropped to the back of the field, with Vanthoor eventually forced to retire the car early.