Excellent driving and strong pace weren’t enough to seal Will Tregurtha a well-deserved points finish on his second outing in the prestigious ADAC GT Masters at Zandvoort over the weekend, 10th/11th August, when late contact in race one undid the British driver’s hard work.
On course for a notable top 12 result in the opening encounter on Saturday at the Dutch track, from 23rd on grid, contact from a rival just 30 seconds from the chequered flag caused damage which led to an enforced retirement for the Meyle-backed T3 Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3.
Race two on Sunday wasn’t any more fruitful for Tregurtha and team-mate, fellow 19-year-old, Maximilian Paul when a tough encounter translated into a 27th place finish.
Tregurtha, a British Racing Drivers’ Club Rising Star, said: “It was my first time at Zandvoort and the weekend was a huge challenge. The team worked unbelievably hard all weekend – especially after the crash at the end of race one – so a big thank you to them. Overall it was a bad weekend for results, but we learnt a lot and I’m determined to help this team get the points they deserved next time out.”
Fresh from a GT4 podium finish in the VLN5 six-hour endurance race last Saturday at Germany’s Nurburgring-Nordschleife, Tregurtha returned to the wheel of the T3 Motorsport Audi this weekend for his second outing at GT3 level with the squad.
After progressing steadily in the two free practice sessions on Friday, 9th August, heavy rain arrived at Zandvoort on Saturday ahead of qualifying where Paul posted the 24th fastest time before being elevated into 23rd on the grid following a penalty for a rival.
Starting the opening encounter, the German got away cleanly at the rolling start and climbed into the top 20 before the Safety Car appeared on track at the beginning of lap two. The action resumed several minutes later and Paul held an elevated 19th place, before moving up into 18th position.
At the 20-minute juncture the Safety Car was required again and racing got back underway with roughly a minute to go until the pit-stop window opened. Paul remained on track initially, climbing into the top 12 as a number of rivals served their stops, and then pitted the next time around as the Safety Car made its third appearance of the race.
Tregurtha ventured out onto track in 16th position and when the action resumed just 20 minutes remained as the Briton looked to solidify a points result. Running right with Franck Perera’s No.82 Lamborghini, both cars gained places as others encountered troubles and following a late drive-through penalty for one of the lead contenders Tregurtha held 13th spot with five minutes to go.
Then breaking into the top 12, while continuing to pressure Perera’s Lamborghini, a superb best-yet series finish for the team looked all-but assured but on the penultimate lap his gutsy and determined drive came to nothing when Matteo Cairoli’s Porsche collided with the Audi.
Crawling back to the pits with significant damage and a shredded front-left tyre, retirement was a foregone and galling conclusion. Cairoli received a 10-place grid penalty for the subsequent race for causing the crash.
Thanks to great work overnight from the T3 Motorsport squad, the Audi R8 was ready to do battle once again on Sunday and in the race two qualifying period Tregurtha emerged from the session with the 26th best time.
Taking the opening stint of race two, he launched well at the rolling start and gained a place on the opening lap before pressuring the similar Audi of Pierre Kaffer. On lap four, though, the Porsche of Thomas Preining went through at Turn One.
Sticking with the Porsche as part of a six car train led by the 21st placed Aston Martin, as the race neared one quarter distance the Safety Car was deployed when the RWT Corvette expired which elevated Tregurtha back into 25th place.
At the re-start on lap 12 Tregurtha remained close behind Preining and when the pit-stop window opened around five minutes later he stayed on track as some early stops were made, climbing into the top 20 as a result. Eventually pitting from 19th with just under half an hour to go, Tregurtha handed the Audi over to Paul who went on to eventually end the race an unrepresentative 27th.
Tregurtha will hope for better fortunes when he embarks on his third international race meeting in as many weekends just a few days from now when the ADAC GT Masters heads to the Nurburgring. The Briton’s fifth and sixth races in the championship will take place on 17th/18th August.