Will Stevens enjoyed a successful Pirelli World Challenge, Bentley and Utah Motorsports Campus début when the ex-Formula One driver finished fourth in the GT Pro-Am category in Utah on Saturday (12 Aug). Stevens, competing in the PWC for the first time, was having his first drive with Bentley Team Absolute, lining up with South Korean co-driver Andrew Kim in a Bentley Continental GT3. A technical issue caused a retirement from today’s race (13 Aug) but not before Will had shown excellent pace and looked set for a podium result.
Competing at the 3.048-mile, 14-corner permanent road circuit southwest of Salt Lake City in the one-hour, two-driver format races – his first-ever GT races Stateside – Stevens took over from Kim who started 16th in Race 1 and brought the Bentley home less than five seconds off scoring a podium class finish in the 32-lap race. Stevens began Race 2 from the eighth row of the grid but was challenging for a top-10 overall position after 20mins. Will was up to eighth place at mid-distance during the mandatory pit-stop phase and was about to pit at mid-distance but rolled to a standstill with a mechanical problem.
The Utah event marked the third different GT car Will has raced this year and the fifth different championship having contested rounds of the Blancpain GT Sprint and Endurance Championships, the Blancpain GT Series in Asia and the FIA World Endurance Championship. Will has taken wins in both the Audi R8 LMS (Blancpain Sprint) and Ferrari 488 GTE (Le Mans 24 Hours) already this season.
Stevens will be in action with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT racing an Audi R8 LMS with Markus Winkelhock in the next rounds of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup at the Hungaroring later this month (25-27 Aug). Will, who is testing the Audi in Hungary on Wednesday (16 Aug), and Winkelhock lie second in the standings having achieved two podiums – including a victory – in the last two Main Race events.
Will Stevens (GB): Lives: Surrey, England. Aged 26.
“It’s been a fantastic, positive weekend and I’d love to return to the PWC with Absolute. It was a new track, new car and new team for me having only previously raced in the U.S. once before in the F1 Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in 2015 with the Manor F1 Team. To race the Bentley was a last-minute opportunity and I needed to adapt my driving style to suit the Continental GT3 car compared to the Audi R8 LMS that I’ve been racing this year. But it was great to be there with Bentley and a fantastic opportunity offering a new challenge and the team was ultra-professional and made me feel very welcome.
“Only “Am’ category drivers can do qualifying and Andrew did a great job. I took over the Bentley from him in Race 1 and once the race settled down, I was pleased with my lap times. I had new tyres for the first time for the start of Race 2 today and I was about to pit to change to Andrew when I was forced to stop on track with a problem. It was a great shame as the Bentley was running great until then and a top result looked achievable.”
Source. Martyn Pass