Will Stevens endured a hectic but very rewarding two days when the Briton claimed two podiums including victory in the latest Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup event as well clocking-up vital mileage in preparation for his second Le Mans 24 Hours. Stevens and co-driver Markus Winkelhock (D) brought their Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entered Audi R8 LMS home in third and first positions at Zolder in Belgium last weekend (3-4 Jun) having flown between the two venues over the course of the weekend.
Stevens, who had placed third in the Main Race in the previous Sprint Cup race on “home soil” at Brands Hatch last month, contested practice, qualifying and the Qualifying Race at Zolder on Saturday. He then headed to Le Mans to take part in Sunday morning’s four-hour “official” test session behind the wheel of JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE along with co-drivers Rob Smith (GB) and Dries Vanthoor (B). Dries and Will, together with Marcel Fässler who attended Le Mans for Corvette Racing, then flew back to Zolder at lunchtime to contest the Main Race in separate Audis for WRT, leaving Smith and Jonny Cocker (GB) to continue testing the Ferrari.
Having achieved third-place in the Qualifying Race, finishing a mere 1.375secs behind the winning “sister” WRT Audi after 37-laps around the 2.5-mile track, Winkelhock took the start of Sunday’s Main Race. The German challenged for the lead for much of the opening half of the race while a stunningly fast and efficient pit-stop on 33mins saw Stevens re-enter the race in the lead. His six-seconds advantage was nullified with 10mins to run when first a Full Course Yellow then a Safety Car period for the same incident. But Will remained composed and duly took the chequered flag to earn himself a maiden Blancpain victory in the one-hour race.
Will’s next Blancpain race is in the Endurance Cup at Paul Ricard (F) over 23-24 June, one week after he competes at Le Mans for a second time. Will now lies second, just five-points off the lead, in the five-event Sprint Cup which resumes in Hungary over 25-27 August.
Will Stevens (GB): Lives: Surrey, England. Aged 25.
“It was a great, productive weekend both at Zolder and Le Mans. We started eighth in the Qualifying race on Saturday afternoon and knew it would be possible to gain places if we could stay out of trouble combined with a decent strategy. I made a good start and managed to avoid the chaos heading in to the first corner – it was pretty obvious it was all going to kick off so I braked early and moved across to the inside. We gained positions aided by another quick and faultless pit-stop. ‘Winky’ did a great job in his opening stint of Sunday’s Main Race and was on the tail of the leader coming down the pit lane for me to take over. The WRT guys got me serviced and out in the lead with yet another fantastic pit-stop. Taking my maiden GT3 victory is an important milestone. I took the decision at the beginning of the year to take this route in my career and the results are now beginning to come.
“I was at Le Mans on Sunday morning for the official test. I jumped in to the Ferrari after Rob and Dries, and completed a total of 10 laps before having to leave at midday to get back to Zolder. The 488 felt good and I’m certain we’ll be competitive in the race. I’m really looking forward to returning to the 24 hours”
Source. Martyn Pass