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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Charles Weerts

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass with WRT driver and GT3 debutant Charles Weerts…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/WRT

Eighteen-year-old Charles Weerts recently became the youngest overall winner in Blancpain GT Series history after taking victory at Misano with Dries Vanthoor, the series’ previous youngest winner.

In this week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass, the Belgian talks about getting used to his first season of GT racing with WRT and his first 24-hour race at Spa.

What was it like to get your first Blancpain GT win a few weeks ago?

“This victory had an even better taste after I made a mistake on the Saturday when running P2. I was really pissed. I really wanted to get that first place back, and I pushed to thie limit and beyond.

“But that’s how you learn. It was quite a tough night for me, but I’m really happy about what the team did and what we did with Dries on Sunday.

“It was really good. I’m also really pleased with the pole we got the day before. 

“We are the youngest lineup to win also, because the average is pretty young. I got some good contacts through him so it was a really enjoyable weekend.”

What experience did you have before your GT3 debut in the FIA GT Nations Cup last winter?

“I did a race preparation in Dubai, just before Bahrain, but it was more like a test because there were no cars so it was a chance to get to know the car.

“My first GT race was in Bahrain, and before that I did two years of Formula 4 in the German championship with Motopark and Van Amersfoort, and before that I did three years of karting.

“I [skipped] GT4 straight to GT3. A big step.”

How difficult has it been to adjust to GT3 cars and the level of competition in Blancpain GT?

“Well actually it was OK because the way you drive the F4 and the GT3 is in a way pretty similar. This car is way heavier and also with the suspension, now I can really feel the car moving around in the corners.

“The first time I drove a GT3 car was in Barcelona in the test after the [Blancpain GT finale in September], and in the long right Turn 4, I could really feel the car moving and I thought I was going to flip it.

“It’s just the way GT cars behave. In a way, it’s pretty similar, but in a GT3 car you have ABS, which you don’t have in a Formula 4 car, so I had to get used to the braking.

Did the experience of your teammates Rik Breukers and Norman Nato help in your first 24-hour race?

“[Rik’s] a really good driver to be with, as he’s done a lot of 24-hour races. He won Daytona 24 twice, Dubai and Sebring. In endurance he doesn’t have to improve anything more.

“But he is pretty young also, and to see what he’s done is pretty impressive. I’m really happy to be here with him because he has a lot of experience at this level.

“And the same for Norman, he drove a couple of times at Le Mans. It’s really good to have those guys with me.

Have you started looking at plans for 2020 yet?

“I would say it is too early, but normally we would go for the same programs of Endurance and Sprint, but more for the wins.

“This year is, if I can win a race then I would take it, as at Misano, but it’s more about gaining experience.

“There were quite a lot of tracks this year that I didn’t know like Misano and Zandvoort, but next year is about being there at the top consistently.”

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