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Thursday, February 22, 2024

WRT’s Habsburg ‘repaid Le Mans debt’ with Monza WEC win

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Habsburg, Norman Nato and Rui Andrade took their #41 Realteam by WRT ORECA-Gibson 07 to victory by 12 seconds over Jota rivals Antonio Felix da Costa, Will Stevens and Roberto Gonzalez in a final-hour showdown, scoring their first victory of the season and the second for the two-car WRT group.

Evaluation: How Glickenhaus implosion helped Alpine to Monza glory on Peugeot’s debut

It adopted a disastrous Le Mans 24 Hours outing for the Belgian squad final month, when each its full-season WEC automobiles dropped out of competition seconds into the race as Habsburg was concerned in a three-way collision with the sister #31 automobile of Rene Rast and the #22 United Autosports entry of Will Owen at Flip 1.

Though it was Rast and never Habsburg who was deemed responsible for triggering the collision, the Austrian driver feels the #41 crew’s Monza win goes a great distance in making up for WRT’s nightmare run at Le Mans.

It places the trio third within the standings on 68 factors, 27 behind the Le Mans-winning #38 Jota crew.

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Habsburg, who received final yr’s LMP2 title with Charles Milesi and Robin Frijns within the #31 WRT automobile, mentioned: “We had third in Sebring, second in Spa, [but at] Le Mans I took an excessive amount of danger and put the group at risk and we misplaced the race, so I really feel I used to be in a position to repay the money owed I had with the group. 

“Very often the engineer was making an attempt to clarify the state of affairs to me, however I mentioned, ‘I don’t know what you’re speaking about, I’m simply gonna drive as quick as I can!’ That was in all probability the only option anyhow. 

“On the finish it was getting clearer, after I was fifth within the second-last stint; except a FCY or one thing occurred I knew I needed to cross the 4 automobiles in entrance of me.

“We received the race, in order that was actually cool.”

Learn Additionally:

#41 Realteam by WRT Oreca 07 – Gibson of Rui Andrade, Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen, Norman Nato

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The #41 ORECA first moved into the lead of the race at first of the third hour, when Habsburg snatched the highest spot from the #22 United instance of Filipe Albuquerque into Flip 1.

A serious second for Habsburg on the Ascari chicane following a mid-race security automobile interval despatched him tumbling down the order, however the #41 crew returned to competition by stopping beneath a late full-course yellow that adopted a collision between the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid and the general race-winning Alpine A480.

This set-up a two-horse race between Habsburg and Stevens, which was determined in WRT’s favour after its pit crew accomplished a faster cease.

Nato, who helped the group regain misplaced floor after the security automobile, remarked that the end result might show essential for WRT’s hopes of retaining the groups’ title within the LMP2 division, because the #31 crew was delayed by repairs for a water leak and will solely end twelfth.

“It wasn’t a straightforward one but it surely was actually essential to bounce again from a troublesome Le Mans,” he mentioned.

“When it comes to pure tempo we had been actually fast, however we made too many errors and misplaced lots of factors. So this race was additionally fairly essential for the championship.”

Given WRT had accomplished the Le Mans/title double on its first season of prototype racing in 2021, expectations had been excessive for the Belgian squad as its returned to Circuit de la Sarthe final month for a second crack on the LMP2 class.

The group even entered an extra automobile pushed by manufacturing unit Lamborghini driver Mirko Bortolotti, works Audi racer Dries Vanthoor and Rolf Ineichen, however its finest end result was an eleventh place from its three entries.

#41 Realteam by WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson of Rui Andrade, Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen, Norman Nato

#41 Realteam by WRT Oreca 07 – Gibson of Rui Andrade, Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen, Norman Nato

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Staff principal Vincent Vosse harassed that after its disastrous Le Mans, “it was essential to indicate that Staff WRT is again”.

“There’s all the time a bit of little bit of frustration when one of many automobiles has a problem or is compelled to retire,” he mentioned.

“However that ought to not forged a shadow over the truth that we had been very fast and the entire group did a unbelievable job, in technique and within the pits.

“Similar for the drivers and I actually need to single out the good efficiency of Rui [Andrade], the silver driver within the trio of the #41, as a result of his wonderful preliminary stint paved the best way for the success.”

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