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Weerts, Vanthoor “Getting Better and Better” Since 2020 Title Run

Sprint Cup leader Weerts says he and Vanthoor are stronger now than during their 2020 title year…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

Charles Weerts believes that he and his Team WRT co-driver Dries Vanthoor are stronger during this year’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup season than they were during their 2020 title run.

The Audi factory pair claimed dominant back-to-back wins in last weekend’s Sprint Cup round at Misano to take a 28.5-point championship lead with four races remaining.

Weerts and Vanthoor, who beat AKKA-ASP’s Timur Boguslavskiy to last year’s title by four points, have already exceeded their count of two victories from the 2020 campaign.

Asked if he thinks their No. 32 WRT entry is stronger this year than it was previously, Weerts told Sportscar365: “Yeah, that’s for sure. It doesn’t mean that because we won the championship that we are perfect.

“Last year we did mistakes and couldn’t maximize every point. We were still able to be in front because we had some really strong races, and overall we were better than the others.

“But this doesn’t mean that we were the best we could be. We probably didn’t extract the full potential out of the combination of us two and the car. This year is about using the potential of the car even more and getting better and better. I’m convinced we’ve done that.

“But next year we may be even stronger than next year, and so on and so on.

“I think if one day I wake up and think, I know everything and I’m the best, and I can’t get any better: I cannot win anything… I’d rather stay in my bed. We learn every day and get better every day as people and drivers.

“We definitely made some good steps on different aspects, on and off-track. We have been working quite a bit on it, and we are still working on it to get even better for the future.”

Weerts said that WRT’s early-season form, particularly in Sprint Cup, has given the team “optimism and hope” approaching this month’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, but acknowledged that form can never guarantee success at the longest race of the year.

Spa marks the third round of the Endurance Cup, in which Weerts and Vanthoor are joined in the No. 32 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo by fellow factory driver Kelvin van der Linde.

The trio endured a rocky start to their campaign at Monza, where their car retired due to collateral damage from a puncture. They then finished second in the Paul Ricard 1000km.

“Just because we had some good races in Sprint and we have been competitive in the Endurance championship, does not mean that it will be the case for Spa,” said Weerts.

“There are 20 cars that are full-factory, and the level is extremely high. A 24-hour race is nothing close to what we did at Paul Ricard or Monza. It’s really special.

“But clearly the fact we’ve been competitive at the beginning of the year is a good sign. It gives us optimism and hope for a good result.

“We have the right car to do a great result and I believe we also have a strong lineup, with me and two of the best Audi drivers. If I could choose, I would not have chosen anything else for Spa.

“So I think we have a good chance. But Spa is Spa: you can be up there for 24 hours, and you can also be out after one hour. But we definitely have a good car in our hands, and it will then be up to us and a bit of luck.”

Weerts reckons that his and Vanthoor’s strong working relationship has contributed to their recent success. They first teamed up for the 2019 Sprint Cup round at Misano, where they took victory in the second race of the weekend.

Since the start of last year, the two Belgians have been paired together in three series: both GTWC Europe competitions and ADAC GT Masters, and all with the same team.

“We definitely get along with each other really well,” said Weerts when asked about his and Vanthoor’s working partnership.

“He’s also a friend of mine and we go to play golf, and sometimes catch up to have dinner. We have a really nice relationship. He’s somebody that I rate really high and enjoy working with.

“For me he’s definitely one of the best GT drivers in the world at the moment. He also helped me last year to get quicker and have a better understanding of the car.

“Even if we are first, we want to be better. We want to extend the lead if we have one, and if not to decrease the gap in front.

“But I think it’s just the fact that we are always trying to push each other to the top and enjoying what we are doing.”

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

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