WRT has "regrets" about losing maiden WEC win at Monza

WRT admits it has “some regrets” about failing to convert pole position into a maiden FIA World Endurance Championship victory in only its third attempt at Monza.

WRT has "regrets" about losing maiden WEC win at Monza

Best known for its GT3 racing exploits with Audi, Belgian squad WRT has successfully diversified into prototype racing this year with a single car entry in the LMP2 classes of both the WEC and the European Le Mans Series.

Ferdinand Habsburg, Charles Milesi and Robin Frijns finished second last weekend at Monza in the team’s #31 Oreca 07-Gibson, less than a minute behind the winning #22 United Autosports Oreca of Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Fabio Scherer.

Frijns lost the lead at the start of the race to the United entry then driven by Hanson, but regained the top spot at the second round of pitstops to reinstate status quo.

The Dutchman stopped for a third time on lap 69 to hand over the car to Habsburg, diving into the pits just before the sole safety car of the race was deployed following a spectacular tyre explosion on Ben Keating’s #33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage.

Most of the LMP2 teams had to come into the pitlane for a splash and dash before stopping for a second time after the safety car period for a full-service. All of this should have handed WRT a massive advantage over its rivals, but the Belgian team missed the window to pass around the safety car, dropping to fifth in class.

Habsburg, Frijns and Milesi were able to recoup some of the lost ground and return on the lead lap, but had no answer to United Autosports’ pace as the Anglo-American team clinched its second win of the season.

Second position was still good enough for WRT’s first-ever podium in the WEC, but team boss Vincent Vosse admits that a victory was on the cards at Monza.

“The positive is that we took our first pole and our first podium, and that the car worked very well throughout the race,” said Vosse. “Still, we have some regrets, as we could have won in LMP2, without this issue during the third pitstop. 

“I think we have made a small strategic mistake, and we can live with that. We are still learning and we still have to improve, but overall, it’s a good weekend, as we head to Le Mans.”

Habsburg, who was also a part of WRT’s DTM set-up last year alongside Scherer and Harrison Newey, added: ’“The feeling is of weight-drop from our shoulders, as we earned our first podium, but there is also a bit of disappointment, as we had the pace to win, and due to a technicality, we lost the chance. 

“It’s always annoying, but we will learn from it, we will not let it happen again.’

 

With four of the five cars in the top hypercar class running into technical issues and only two of them finishing on the lead lap, United Autosports finished on the overall podium behind the winning #7 Toyota and the #36 Signatech-run Alpine A480.

It marked the first time an LMP2 car finished inside the top three since last year’s Bahrain finale, when only the two Toyotas were entered in the top category.

Hanson admitted that it would have been a close fight between United and WRT had the Belgian team not lost time stuck behind the safety car but felt his outfit deserved to win the race anyway.

“You can only predict so much and obviously starts at Monza are normally quite difficult,” he said. “It all kind of opened up for me at the start so I was able to get the lead. 

“From that point our strategy was to try and save as much fuel and extend the stint which we did and we were able to extend our first stint even through the full course yellow, which actually turned out to be a bit of a pain for us in the second stint when the safety car came out just before we were about to box. 

“There was definitely some confusion between WRT and organisers which means we were not suffering as much as we probably should have. 

“But we were leading before that so we were deserved leaders before that point anyway. It’s a shame that it dropped them so back, it would have really been a tough fight. But the team did everything right apart from that, which was anyway out of our control.”

shares
comments

Related video

Toyota admits to reliability concerns ahead of Le Mans

Previous article

Toyota admits to reliability concerns ahead of Le Mans

Next article

Glickenhaus finalises Le Mans driver roster, Menezes misses out

Glickenhaus finalises Le Mans driver roster, Menezes misses out
Load comments
The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial Plus

The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial

OPINION: After 24 Le Mans 24 Hours participations, 50-year-old Emmanuel Collard will be absent from the grid this year, stuck at the mercy of his gold driver grading. But, while he's not motivated by breaking start records, the French veteran is determined to return to the field next year

WEC
Jul 24, 2021
How glitches left Toyota 'worried' about losing unbeaten WEC streak Plus

How glitches left Toyota 'worried' about losing unbeaten WEC streak

The World Endurance Championship's long-awaited return to Monza posed the sternest test yet for Toyota's new hypercar. Although the Japanese marque's GR010 HYBRID remains unbeaten, the victory for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi was far from plain sailing

WEC
Jul 19, 2021
How the next step in the IMSA and WEC convergence can reunite multiple fronts Plus

How the next step in the IMSA and WEC convergence can reunite multiple fronts

OPINION: Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Plus

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness

WEC
Jun 23, 2021
How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge helped Toyota to keep clear Plus

How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge helped Toyota to keep clear

Despite going stride for stride for pace at Portimao, Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 couldn’t convert pole position into a sustained victory fight against Toyota. And due to rules and car limitations that are set in stone, the French manufacturer will be searching for solutions in its own battle of endurance

WEC
Jun 14, 2021
Toyota hits the ton — charting 100 world championship sportscar starts Plus

Toyota hits the ton — charting 100 world championship sportscar starts

The Japanese manufacturer is celebrating its 100th world championship prototype start in this weekend's Portimao 8 Hours round of the World Endurance Championship. Here are the major milestones on the road to three figures since the earliest low-key days of its entry into the Group C arena nearly 40 years ago

WEC
Jun 12, 2021
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Plus

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

OPINION: Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Plus

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory

WEC
May 4, 2021