Team WRT Take Home Honours in Qualifying Race

by Connor Jackson

A first win of the Blancpain GT Sprint season for Robin Frijns and Stuart Leonard was an excellent result for the Team WRT Audi R8 LMS machine around their home venue of Zolder. The pair maintained the lead for the whole qualifying race, holding off late pressure from behind.

A 33 car grid around the narrow Zolder circuit did not end well, with a crash even before the first corner. Mirko Bortolotti went for a gap as the lights went green, pushing Frank Stippler‘s ISR Audi R8 LMS towards the pit wall.

Though unsighted to the GRT Grasser Racing Lamborghini Hurican the Strakka Racing McLaren 650 S was on the inside. Stippler was sandwiched and spun Bortolotti’s Lamborghini, into the side of Come Ledger‘s McLaren taking them both out and sending Stippler to the pits.

Stippler was later given a drive through penalty for being out of position at the start.

After a safety car period, pole sitter Frijns led the field away once again. The Audi came under immediate pressure from Andrew Watson in the #59 Strakka Racing McLaren, but with the Strakka also serving a drive through for being out of position, Frijns sprinted away.

This would promote the AKKA ASP Mercedes of Raffaelle Marciello into second, looking to close the gap on the leader as the pit window opened.

The pair remained close, thanks to a seamless stop from the AKKA crew to get second driver Michael Meadows out in time. Team WRT maintained the lead though with Leonard taking the driving seat.

Frijns had left it open for an easy win, but a slower second stint from Leonard was playing straight into their rivals hands. Before long the #90 AKKA was on the back, joined by the #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and the #75 ISR at the hands of Clemens Schmid.

The AKKA clearly had the pace, but with the Mercedes-AMG in a WRT sandwich, he felt the pressure from behind just as much, with Markus Winkelhock pressuring for a podium.

The top four were separated by only 2 seconds as Leonard crossed the line to take the #17 Audi R8 LMS first victory of the year.

The #90 Mercedes-AMG hung onto second from Winkelhock in the #2, while Schmid and Felix Serrallis in the #88 AKKA ASP rounded out the top five. Defending champions Enzo Ide and Christopher Mies would finish a further 3.5 seconds back in sixth.

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