FIA WEC

Sean Gelael: “I think it’s an avoidable incident.”

2 Mins read
Credit: Joao Filipe / DPPI

Sean Gelael has described the crash that caused the red flag to be waved at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa as “an avoidable incident.” The Team WRT driver was commenting about a race that ultimately saw both of the team’s LMGT3 cars be taken out in collisions triggered by Hypercars in the third round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

Coming from an extremely successful round at the 6 Hours of Imola, where the team secured a 1-2 finish in the LMGT3 class, the Belgian team had high hopes for their home race at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps. Qualifying was a mixed bag, with the #31 car starting 2nd after a penalty was applied to the #95 United Autosports McLaren. Meanwhile, the #46 car could only manage 12th in a very competitive session.

The #46 BMW before being taken out by the #38 Porsche. Credit: BMW M Motorsport

Unfortunately, disaster was lurking for them during the race. At the 90 minute mark, a collision on the run down to Bruxelles between two Hypercars speared the #38 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche 963 into the side of the #46 BMW. Ahmed Al Harthy, the driver at the helm of the BMW, was relegated to the role of passenger as his car was sent off the track and out of the race.

Al Harthy said he was “obviously very disapointed with how the race ended. Unfortunately, the contact that happened between two Hypercars was totally out of my control and we ended up with a DNF. It’s definitely not what we wanted for the team that deserved more” the Omani driver continued, adding “we have to be positive and try to learn as much as we can.

It’s a pity” said Maxime Martin, another driver of the #46 car, philosophically adding “we’re certainly not at Spa to retire after 1h30. But it’s part of the game, that’s racing. It’s indeed a shame because Ahmad was doing a good job, and we could have scored some important points. But that’s the way it is.

Unbeknownst to them, a bigger crash was waiting for the #31 car. Earl Bamber was attempting an overtake in his Cadillac Racing Hypercar against the #99 Proton Competition Porsche while simultaneously lapping the LMBGT3 BMW down the very fast Kemmel Straight. Having misjudged the gap between the cars, Bamber clipped the BMW, sending the Cadillac literally flying into the barriers and taking the BMW out of the race as well. The crash was so severe that it brought out the red flag for nearly two hours.

Team WRT in action at their home race in Belgium. Credit: Joao Filipe / DPPI

Gelael, who was in the BMW at the time, was reflective, saying it “could be better, could be worse. We were fighting for a virtual podium for our home and then the incident happened. I think it’s an avoidable incident… But this is what it is. Hopefully we end up in a better position next time. We close the Spa book and we are fully focused on Le Mans.”

Fellow #31 driver Augusto Farfus came across as more frustrated. “All drivers in the #31 executed a very good race. Every single driver fulfilled his own task” the Brazilian driver enthused. “Unfortunately, we had both LMGT3 cars taken out by Hypercars and that should be a sign that this is an issue which needs to be addressed.”

All eyes at Team WRT are now focused on the next round of the championship, the one that all the teams and drivers want to win: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Having, as Gelael put it, closed the book on Spa, the team will want to bounce back and prove their strength at the most prestigious sportscar race of them all.

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