Attempto Racing Takes Blancpain Zolder Victory after WRT Hit With Penalties.


Kelvin van der Linde and Steijn Schothorst won race two of the opening round of the Blancpain Sprint Series at Zolder. Credit: Patrick Hecq/SRO

Attempto Racing secured their first ever Blancpain victory after a controversial Blancpain Sprint Series second race at Zolder.

The #66 Audi of Kelvin van der Linde and Steijn Schothorst took full advantage of contentious pitlane penalties to the leading runners to crown off a successful beginning to the team’s partnership with Audi.

Attempto’s victory came at the expense of previous leaders #63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini and #2 WRT Audi who both received drive-thru penalties for pitlane infringements.

van der Linde started third on the grid but along with Race one winner Mirko Bortolotti took full advantage of Will Stevens‘ controversial start.

Stevens starting from second on the grid in the #2 WRT Audi, got ahead of polesitter Bortolotti the start line but eased off in order not be penalised, losing his momentum in the process.

This allowed the Lamborghini to take the lead and for van de Linde to gain second at the first corner.

Yet the first lap dramas were not over as Christopher Mies and Franck Perera made contact in the first corner and Giacomo Piccini received two contacts.

Piccini, second in Pro-Am in race one limped back to the pits with a puncture and Perera’s miserable Lamborghini debut ended with a snapped axle.

Bortolotti and van der Linde pulled away from Stevens who soon came under pressure from Raffaele Marciello in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes.

Yet van der Linde was unable make any inroads on the Lamborghini, losing up to 0.8 seconds and was 8.2 seconds behind when the Lamborghini made its pitshop.

Yet it all went wrong for Grasser Racing Team in the pits as Christian Engelhart was unable to properly tighten his belts delaying him, allowing the #2 Audi to lead the Lamborghini out, with the Engelhart emerging in fifth place, behind team-mate Ezequiel Perez Companc in the #19 machine.

To make matters worse for the #63 they received a drive-thru penalty as Engelhart’s rear wing clipped one of his mechanics when pulling away and eventually finished in eighth place.

WRT’s superior pitwork allowed the #2 to jump the #66 Attempto Audi when they took their stop allowing local racer Dries Vanthoor to build up a sizeable lead.

Yet when Vanthoor left the pits he ran over the line of cones placed to signify the end of the working pit area, which was placed just in front of his pit stop. Vanthoor was supposed to move around them, but due to the tight angle, he was unable to do so.

This “offence” resulted Vanthoor having to serve a drive-thru penalty and in his attempts to make up ground, he put a late move of the Sainte-Loc #25 Audi of Simon Gachet, but ran wide at the exit of the corner forcing Gachet off the track.

This earned him another drive-thru penalty and they eventually finished out of the points in 12th.

The penalties saw Steijn Schothorst in the #66 Audi leading Michael Meadows in #88 Mercedes with the #19 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini of Perez Companc in third to the chequered flag.

Fourth place went to the #87 AKKA ASP Mercedes which made its way up from 19th on the grid.

With the #11 Kessell Racing Ferrari of Piccini removed from the fight, Pro-Am became a tussle between the #39 TP-12 Kessell Racing Ferrari and the #26 Sainte-Loc Audi.

Carlo Van Dam held the early advantage due to his brilliant qualifying performance to line up fourth on the grid, but was gradually chased down by Marcus Winkelhock in the #26 Audi and was right on the Ferrari’s tail as they entered the pits together.

The Sainte-Loc car was first away but was released into the path of the Ferrari, forcing it to take avoiding action to avoid contact, ceding the lead in the process.

This inevitable resulted in the #26 car receiving a drive-thru penalty for an unsafe release, a punishment shared by the #55 Attempo Audi, allowing Piti Bhirombhakdi to claim a Pro-Am double.