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Cumbrian driver Frank Bird kicked off the season with a fine fourth place in the Silver Cup class at Monza when the opening round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS commenced with three-hour race for the Endurance Cup.

The legendary Italian track is notoriously not the most favourable for the Audi R8 LMS, but the three cars of the Belgian squad showed good pace in practice, qualifying and also in the newly inaugurated SIM racing class.

On Saturday evening, Ryuichiro Tomita scored the team’s first three points towards the Silver Cup as he won his class in the E-Sports race while on Sunday the number #32 entrusted to Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts took fourth in qualifying with #31 Ryuichiro Tomita, Frank Bird and Valdemar Eriksen qualifying in 16th and the #30 of Benjamin Goethe, Stuart Hall and James Pull in 18th.

The race on Sunday saw 43 cars take the start, with no problems for the WRT teams initially, as Weerts ran third in the opening laps, with Penrith-based Bird in 14th and Hall in 17th. However, after few laps, the rain appeared and it soon became heavier, forcing everybody to pit, reshuffling the order and invoking several full course yellow and safety car periods.

In the middle part of the race, issues with the rain tyres took a heavy toll, as many cars suffered punctures, including Team WRT’s van der Linde, who had to retire whilst fighting for second.

That left the team’s two cars entered in the Silver Cup to battle it out and they gradually started to climb positions through the field, with an excellent performance coming from all drivers. Eventually, they crossed the line sixth and eighth place overall and despite Bird’s opening stint, the #31 car had to give second best to their teammates but were importantly the best-placed Audi cars, taking second and fourth respectively in the Silver Cup.

GTWCE Endurance Cup – Round 1
Monza 3 Hours, 16-18 April 2021
Race Result
1. Cairoli-Bachler-Engelhart (Porsche 911R) 79 laps
2. Marciello-Juncadella-Gounon (Mercedes AMG) +2.886s
3. Fontana-Ineichen-Feller (Lamborghini Huracán) +3.141s
4. Fuoco-Ilott-Rigon (Ferrari 458) +3.613s
5. Pierguidi-Nielsen-Ledogar (Ferrari 458) +7.799s
6. Goethe-Hall-Pull (Audi R8 LMS) +15.607s
8. Bird-Eriksen-Tomita (Audi R8 LMS) +23.391s
DNF van der Linde-Vanthoor-Weerts (Audi R8 LMS) 29 laps (puncture)

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