Ortelli/Vanthoor win FIA GT thriller

Ortelli/Vanthoor win FIA GT thriller


Ortelli/Vanthoor win FIA GT thriller


Stephane Ortelli and Laurens Vanthoor claimed victory for the WRT Audi squad in the FIA GT qualifying race at Zandvoort.

Ortelli hung on to win by just seven tenths of a second after Maximilian Buhk moved his Gravity Charous Mercedes past the second WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra driven by Niki Mayr-Melnhof.

Vanthoor got a run on front-row starters Alvaro Parente and Andreas Simonsen into the first corner and came out ahead after contact involving all three cars.

The Belgian driver led through a shortlived early safety car period before letting teammate Rene Rast, Mayr-Melnhof’s partner, past at the Tarzan hairpin on lap 12.

Mayr-Melnhof retained the lead after the mid-race pit stop sequence, before Ortelli moved the winning Audi back up front after three laps. Buhk, who shared the Gravity Charouz Merc SLS AMG with Alon Day, ran fourth after the pitstops, but had the pace to close down and pass the third WRT Audi driven by Edward Sandstrom.

Mayr-Melnhof was able to hold off Buhk until three laps from the end, which meant that Ortelli had just enough in hand to hang on for the victory.

Ortelli said: “I have to say that when I saw the Mercedes behind me, I knew he would be able to pass me if he’d one or two more laps.

“We were struggling a bit with the set-up, with oversteer, but I was quick through the final corner so I had a bit of a gap into Tarzan.”

Sandstrom, who was paired as usual with Frank Stippler, finished on the tail of Mayr-Melnhof to take fourth place. Fifth went to the BMW Team Brazil entry shared by Allam Khodair and Caca Bueno. Mike Parisy and Andreas Zuber took sixth for the Sebastien Loeb Racing McLaren squad.

Parente, who had qualified on pole in the McLaren MP4-12C he shared with Sebastien Loeb, retired almost immediately after the first-corner incident.

Simonsen, who was paired in his Gravity Charouz Merc with Sergei Afanasiev, was penalized for his part in the incident with a drive-through, but his teammate was able to recover to seventh and first in the Pro-Am class at the finish.