It could have been a repeat of five years ago. In 2017, Robin Frijns came agonisingly close to winning the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring. He was en route to victory when with the finish in sight a downpour flooded the track. Out on slicks, the Dutchman’s Audi lost the race.
Things turned out differently this time for Frijns and co-drivers Dries Vanthoor, Fred Vervisch and Kelvin van der Linde, as the #15 Audi Sport Team Phoenix crew made all the right calls and opted to change to intermediate tyres when with a couple of hours to go the rain came down.
“It’s a great relief for me, since I never won this race and came so very close in 2017 – we lost the win in the final lap,” a champagne-drenched Robin Frijns says.
“And yet again, our pitstop was under investigation, so I was like, here we go again. But I’m very happy it ended well and I can cross this one off!”
Starting from 21st on the grid, the #15 Audi R8 LMS GT3 quickly rose through the ranks in the opening hours before joining the fight for the lead at sunset. By nightfall, teammate Vervisch slotted into first place when the leaders suffered accidents in rapid succession.
Was there a single key moment during the weekend? The Audi works driver claims there wasn’t.
“There was not really anything decisive, I would say. Of course, the tyres – cut clicks – which we were on at the end and the Mercedes being on normal slicks and then suddenly gaining a 50-second advantage, that did help a lot.
“From the outside it looked like the Mercedes was a little bit stronger.
“We didn’t really make any mistakes – we did hit some cars like every else also did. Look at the car, it’s full of tape, but I think that’s part of the racing.
“Everything went fairly well; I think our strategy brought us the victory.”
Despite considerable success in GT racing, Robin Frijns has been notably absent this year from many of the races he did in recent years.
“There isn’t much time left between WEC and Formula E,” the 2015 and 2017 Blancpain GT champion explains.
“I can’t do a full championship because there will be a clash. It doesn’t make sense to do a championship and then miss a race or two.”
The fire to win the big races, however, burns as bright as ever.
“I have won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Bathurst 12 Hour, this one I had never won.
“I have never won [the 24 Hours of Spa]. Unfortunately, this year because of Formula E I can’t do Spa.
“There are some more things I would like to achieve, but this one I have now.
“Le Mans, I have won in the LMP2 class – of course that is a victory as well, but I would really like to win the race overall. I want to win such a watch!”
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