Connect with us

GT World Challenge Europe

Sprint Cup Title Hat-Trick “Simply Incredible” for WRT Pair

Audi drivers Vanthoor, Weerts reflect on three years of title wins; hopes of continuing partnership…

Photo: Michele Scudiero

Charles Weerts has described his and Dries Vanthoor’s third consecutive Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup title as “simply incredible” for the Team WRT pairing.

The drivers of the No. 32 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II sealed their third Sprint championship by scoring a podium in the first of two races at last weekend’s Valencia season finale.

They then capped their title success by dramatically winning Race 2 after WRT elected to send Weerts out with slick tires on a drying track for the deciding stint.

With a total of 135.5 points, Vanthoor and Weerts eclipsed their 2021 total by 32 points and their 2020 winning score by a margin of 46.5.

“To win three in a row was quite exceptional; nobody had done it before,” Weerts told Sportscar365.

“We only have five rounds per season in Sprint, so you have to make them count. You have to be really competitive each outing.

“Luckily we could count on our team, and Dries always did the job very well. And I did also. I have improved my driving in the last years; thanks to the team and Dries.

“I felt like my weak point, especially in the first season, was my qualifying. It is extremely important in Sprint. This year I had two poles, two second positions and a fifth.

“I think we just try every year to improve ourselves because our competitors are also getting better and better. We cannot simply match what we did before.

“To win it three times is simply incredible and a special feeling.”

Vanthoor credited a close personal friendship with Weerts as a key element of their repeated success.

Both drivers hold strong links to WRT: Weerts’ father Yves is the group co-owner and Vanthoor’s older brother Laurens won several titles with the team and was the record Sprint Cup wins holder until Dries eclipsed him at Valencia.

The three-time champions were first paired for the 2019 Sprint Cup round at Misano, where they took a race win before going on to form a full-season pairing for 2020.

“We quite soon became really good friends,” Vanthoor said.

“In our first season together, we found out that we really consider each other as family. It’s a very relaxed work feeling.

“I’m very happy that it went that way, because it can go the other way. It’s also gone the competitive way: if he’s quicker than me, it happens, and I’m happier than if anybody else would be quicker.

“Seeing the last few laps of the last race, doing the job that I was doing a few years ago, it was very nice to see.

“It’s just nice to see from when he started and was learning from me, and now he’s doing well.”

Vanthoor also praised the WRT engineers who have supported his and Weerts’ three titles.

Charles Hodge was their race engineer for 2020 and 2022, while Wim Everaerts had the same role in 2021. This year Everaerts held a more general position overseeing the engineering and strategy for all WRT Audis, but remained involved in the No. 32 entry.

“It’s a big shoutout to Charles and Wim because they work very well,” said Vanthoor.

“It’s not always easy, two engineers working together, because they have their own jobs and careers, but I must say they do it very well and accept each other’s thoughts.

“The race on Sunday was a perfect example of that. It was a 50-50 call [to adopt slicks] and one guy had to take responsibility – it was at the end Wim.

“For Charles to feel OK with that was very nice, to have such a good team behind you when you’re driving.”

Wish to Remain Co-Drivers in Evolving Future

Both Vanthoor and Weerts hope to remain co-drivers and bid for a fourth Sprint Cup title, however that comes amid an evolving situation at WRT as the team parts ways with Audi at the end of this year.

WRT was originally due to work on the Audi LMDh program, but instead pursued a deal to run BMW’s LMDh car in 2024 after the Audi program was canceled.

The team has not announced whether it will also run BMWs in GT3 next year.

In addition to having close ties to WRT, Vanthoor and Weerts are both Audi Sport factory drivers.

“I wish to drive again with Dries,” said Weerts.

“He’s not only an amazing driver but also an incredible friend of mine. We are very close, so that’s why the partnership works really well.

“It would be my biggest wish [to continue]. I don’t think it would be impossible either, but it depends on other decisions and my ones.

“We will see where we go. But that would definitely be my wish.”

Vanthoor echoed his co-champion’s sentiments about maintaining the partnership.

The 24-year-old was originally due to work on the Audi LMDh and still wants to forge a path in prototypes, which has prompted him to consider options with other brands.

“I would like to keep the partnership going,” Vanthoor said.

“Of course, WRT is finishing up their last races together with Audi, so I have to see how everything evolves.

“We’ll have to see how our partnership goes in the next few days and weeks, for mine and Charles’ sides.”

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.

Click to comment

More in GT World Challenge Europe