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Gelael: “Important to Build the Chemistry” With WRT

Sean Gelael entering WRT environment at Sebring Prologue after ‘learning a lot’ with JOTA…

Photo: MPS Agency

Sean Gelael believes it is “important to build the chemistry” with his new coworkers at Team WRT after switching to the Belgian squad from LMP2 rival JOTA for this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Last year’s LMP2 runner-up Gelael is getting acquainted with defending champion WRT during this weekend’s Prologue pre-season test at Sebring, having been based at home in Indonesia throughout the winter.

The adaptation to a new organization includes getting to know new engineers and other key staff, as well as new co-drivers in Robin Frijns and Rene Rast after Gelael worked with Tom Blomqvist and Stoffel Vandoorne in 2021.

Gelael said that his camp and JOTA initially held discussions last year about renewing their partnership for a second term while the possibility of a WRT deal emerged shortly before the Bahrain double-header in November.

The 25-year-old is considering how to best position himself for a future Hypercar involvement and cited that process as one of the reasons for switching teams.

“I think the season with JOTA was really good,” Gelael told Sportscar365.

“We fought until the end and I had amazing people there, an amazing car crew with Stoff and Tom. But I think the offer with WRT had some personal attachment that could benefit me.

“Maybe for the future, this was the right way to go. I think that’s what persuaded the move to WRT. In the long run it felt like it was the right option.

“Omicron went up at the end of the year, and I was quite busy back home, so I have called on Zoom with the team but I haven’t been to the factory.

“But I’ve worked with some of the engineers before so that makes it an easier condition.

“We’re all professionals here. I know Robin quite well and Rene is good. It is important to build the chemistry.”

Gelael’s acquaintance with one of WRT’s engineers goes back to when he made a preliminary LMP2 foray in 2016 that included WEC outings with Extreme Speed Motorsports.

“When I did three races in 2016, one of the engineers was from that and some are from the F2 days,” he said.

“I met him at Le Mans last year because he was with Robert Kubica in the No. 41.

“Suddenly, we made the move to WRT and he was still there so it was quite funny because it came full circle. There are familiar faces, so it’s not completely new.”

Gelael’s aim for the 2021 season with JOTA was to make the full-time transition to sports cars, starting with an Asian LMS program before moving to the WEC.

But after a strong season with JOTA that included five podiums in six races, he now believes there is a “big difference” between how he felt at the start of last year compared to now.

“Just in terms of how comfortable you are coming in,” he said. “I think it’s a big difference in that it’s a more relaxed place, in terms of enjoying it for you and doing the best for your team.

“Knowing each other’s roles specifically and taking part in that without ego is really important for a team to succeed.

“I think transitioning to sports cars was the mindset to [2021]. Doing F2 and formula cars it was all laid out in the first few laps, but the races here are long and there’s always time to fight back.

“Having no ego plays a big part and that’s where me, Tom and Stoff played a huge role there to do well. But we always made mistakes in each race.

“That never really made us win any races, which is a shame. A few bits here and there cost us the championship in the end. We did fight until the end which was nice, but WRT were a bit stronger than us.

“WRT are a good bunch of guys and I’m happy with them. They have accepted me really well to the family and I’m excited [to see] how it goes.”

Davey Euwema contributed to this report

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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