A massive grid of 62 GT3 supercars hit the Paul Ricard track for the first time today in preparation for the third round of the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series. In sunny and hot conditions the Blancpain Endurance Series began its third round with the expected close competition between Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes, Nissan and Porsche.
FINAL ENTRY LIST NEWS
• Jos Menten (NDL) replaces Eugenio Amos (ITA) in the #125 Blancpain Reiter Lamborghini Gallardo FLII
• Laurent Pasquali (FRA) replaces John Hartshorne (GBR) in the Boutsen-Ginion McLaren MP-12C.
• Christian Menzel (GER) replaces Hans-Guido Riegel (GER) at Haribo Racing Team. Car moves from PRO-AM to PRO class.
• Stephane Lemeret (BEL) replaces Marc Sourd (FRA) in the #41 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra
‘RACING FOR ALLAN’ THIS WEEKEND
SRO Motorsports Group has issued special tribute stickers to all teams competing this weekend to remember Allan Simonsen who died at Le Mans last weekend. The Dane competed in many SRO organised events over the years and was a successsful and popular member of the motorsport family. Every team is proud to commemorate Allan in this way and to express their condolensces to Allan’s family and many friends.
BRONZE TEST – GO GRASSER !
The Grasser Racing Team continued their recent form in the first session of the weekend with team owner Gottfried Grasser himself setting a best time of 2m08.978s at Paul Ricard this morning in his Lamborghini LP600. The Austrian, along with team mates and fellow Austrians, Hari Proczyk and Gerhard Tweresar finished a fine 4th in the PRO-AM class at Silverstone and is determined to at least be on the podium come Sunday evening.
Gabriel Balthazard was the best Gentlemen Trophy class driver in the SOFREV/ASP Ferrari 458 Italia, setting a best lap of 2m10.810s.
Former French International goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez , will make his first start of the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series season, also in a SOFREV ASP Ferrari 458 Italia tomorrow. The 1998 World Cup winner set the 11th best Gentlemen Trophy class time in the Bronze Test session this morning.
1. Grasser - GRT Lamborghini Gallardo (PRO-AM) 2m08.978s
2. Hassid - TDS Racing BMW Z4 (PRO-AM) 2m09.176s
3. Hommerson/Machiels - AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia (PRO-AM) 2m09.268s
FREE PRACTICE – LAMBORGHINI LOCK-OUT !
It was a Lamborghini lock-out in both the PRO and PRO-AM class during the 90-minute Free Practice session at lunchtime. Peter Kox (NDL) took the Lamborghini LP600 FLII he shares with President and CEO of Blancpain, Marc A.Hayek (CHE) to the top of the time sheets with a 2m07.363s lap. The Dutchman hooked up the spectacular Blancpain Racing Lamborghini and found a clear lap to head the similar Italian supercar of Blancpain Racing’s PRO class entry. A time of 2m07.822s was set by Slovakian driver Stefan Rosina, who was delighted with his and the teams’ start to the weekend in what is their first appearance so far this season. He shares the #125 Lamborghini with Albert Von Thurn Und Taxis (GER) and Jos Menten (NDL).
Claiming the best time in the Gentlemen’s Trophy was the #51 AF Corse entry on a 2m09.932s lap. Filipe Barreiros (PRT) is sharing the Ferrari 458 Italia with Peter Mann (GBR) and Francisco Guedes (PRT) and it was Guedes who made the best use of his Pirelli tyres and set the best time.
1. Hayek/Kox - Blancpain Racing Lamborghini LP600 FLII (PRO-AM) 2m07.363s
2. Von Thurn und Taxis//Menten/Rosina - Blancpain Racing Lamborghini (PRO) 2m07.822s
3. Hummel/Jans/Christodoulou - Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 (PRO-AM) 2m07.914s
PRE-QUALIFYING – CLOSE AT THE FRONT !
The final session of the day took place in the mid-afternoon with temperatures approaching 28 degrees celsius and the pace was also hot on the track as Maxime Martin (BEL) in the Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 set the fastest time of the day with a best lap of 2m06.730s. Martin, who races with Bas Leinders (BEL) and Yelmer Buurman (NDL) beat the Hexis Racing McLaren MP-12C by just 0.078s.
At the top of the PRO-Am class was the #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 run by Nissan GT Academy Team RJN. Lucas Ordonez (ESP) set the fastest time of 2m06.918s and also claimed 3rd fastest in the overall results of the session. The original GT Academy graduate shares with team mates Wolfgang Reip (BEL) and Peter Pyzera (GER).
Once again clear laps were at a premium with 62 GT3 cars on track, however the fastest time of the day in the ever-expanding Gentlemen Trophy category was set by the #10 SOFREV/ASP Ferrari 458 Italia, driven by Jerome Policand (FRA). He and his partners in the car, Gabriel Balthazard (FRA) and Maurice Ricci (FRA) now go in to their home race tomorrow in a very confident frame of mind to collect more points for their title charge.
1. Leinders/Buurman/Martin - Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 (PRO) 2m06.730s
2. Dusseldorp/Sims/Parente - Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C (PRO) 2m06.808s
3. Reip/Pyzera/Ordonez - Nissan GT Academy RJN Nissan GT-R NISMO (PRO-AM) 2m06.918s
All of today’s results are available here - http://www.blancpain-endurance-series.com/results
ALL EYES ON CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD ON SUNDAY
The action kicks-off at Circuit Paul Ricard tomorrow morning with Qualifying taking place at 10.25cet. The three-hour race itself starts at 15.00cet. You can watch live coverage with a timing screen right here – http://www.blancpain-endurance-series.com/pages/live
Also follow live text commentary via www.twitter.com/BlancpainRacing2013 following #MistralGT
QUOTES FROM SATURDAY AT PAUL RICARD
Maxime Martin, #3 Marc VDS Racing Team, BMW Z4 (PRO)
“I always had a good feeling today. The other teams didn’t show all their capabilities for the moment, and there are a lot of othr cars on the track. We have a car that is working well, we still have to work a little bit on the set-up but generally for sure, it’s better to be in this position (P1).”
Stefan Rosina, #125 Blancpain Racing, Lamborghini LP600 FLII (PRO)
“I am quite happy, the car was fast in the free practice, there are a lot of cars on the track, so tomorrow it will be about clear laps, everything can happen for us, I have the feeling we can fight for the top 10 overall, but you obviously need a little bit of luck that everything can come together.”
Peter Kox, #24 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini LP600 FLII (PRO)
“I think we have a very good set-up for here with the car, we were quite competitive, also the other Blancpain Racing car was competitive too. You always have to ask yourself the question who drives on what level of petrol in the tank and if they put on new tyres, it’s always a little bit of waiting what to expect. The Pre-Qualifying session was also ok, I finished 5th, and I was satisfied, I didn’t get the perfect lap but I’m generally quite satisfied.”
Gottfried Grasser, #78 GRT Lamborghini LP600 FLII (PRO-AM)
“Basically it was great, we tried some things and it worked quite good for us. Everything’s going well. I was happy to drive today.”
Lucas Ordonez (ESP) #35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN, Nissan GT-R NISMO (PRO-AM)
“In Free Practice we found some good set-ups on the car, we felt confident and eventually set the best time of the Pro Am in Pre-Qualifying. ‘Wolfie’ and Peter did great with used tyres, we put new ones at the end of the session as well. The traffic was a bit crazy so I could not get a full clear lap in my run but I am very happy with the Nissan GT-R NISMO and we will try to do another good job tomorrow for the qualifying!”
Jerome Policand, #10 SOFREV/ASP, Ferrari 458 Italia (GENT)
“Everything went pretty smoothly for us, we did not get any big problems except at the beginning with a puncture. We are confident about our performance, but I think that there will be more technical problems in this race, first because it is not easy with the traffic on the track, and there is a lot of rubber deposit out of the corners.”