The Marc VDS Racing Team begin their Blancpain Endurance Series campaign this weekend at the famous Monza circuit in Italy. After finishing vice champion of both drivers’ and teams’ standings in 2012, the team are pushing for victory in 2013.
The driving crews have changed a little; Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin are joined by Yelmer Buurman in #3,while Markus Palttala, Nick Catsburg and Henri Moser take #4. Both crews are equipped with the BMW Z4 GT3.
Between the two cars there’s a strong mix of experience and youth. Leinders, Martin and Palttala were vice champions last year and Palttala has scored more points than any driver in the history of the series. Over the winter, Martin has become a full fledged BMW works driver and Buurman also comes into the team bearing BMW backing and will make his Marc VDS race debut at Monza. Catsburg and Moser, though relatively young in this arena, carry plenty of knowledge and pace - Moser is an ex GT3 European champion.
The Autodromo Internazionale Monza is a tremendously fast circuit, with a mix of long straights and tight chicanes, interspersed with spectacular sweeping bends. Setting the car up for the tight chicanes and their curbs is vital to fast lap time and preserving the car through a stint. The Parabolica is one of the most famous corners in the world, a long 180 degree turn that is vital for getting good speed onto the long front straight - where the cars will be touching 275 km/h.
Last season, the team took a surprise victory at the circuit in torrential rain, but the fast straights are not suited to the BMW Z4 GT3. The car’s strength lies in its handling, where it is amongst the strongest of the GT3 cars.
The Blancpain Endurance Series presents the strongest grid in GT racing anywhere in the world, with 60 cars entered to take part in its first round. Each race is three hours long, with two mandatory pitstops for fuel, new tyres and a change of driver.
The race is live on the series website, blancpain-endurance-series.com, from 14:30 local time on Sunday.
Markus Palttala: BMW Z4 GT3 #4
“I’m excited to finally get started, it’s been a long winter. The championship looks great - the level is getting higher and the grid is full. Last year we went to Monza thinking it was the worst possible circuit for the car but we won. I think we’re in a similar position, because if it’s dry I think we will really struggle on this track, and there are over 20 Pro class cars so we’ll have to have a great race to score points. Saying that, we have a great team, with great guys. Our strategy and pitstops were amazing last season, and I have faith in the team.”
Yelmer Buurman: BMW Z4 GT3 #3
“I’m really looking forward to finally going racing. We had to miss one race already because of the weather, where VLN1 was cancelled, so I’m raring to go. It’s difficult to say where we are on the grid, because testing never shows true pace and the balance of performance is always interesting to see. Either way, the long straights are difficult with the car as it is right now. This year there are so many Pro teams, and there’s a lot of good combinations. Still, I’m happy with my team mates. When you drive with two guys who have proved themselves again and again, you’ve got a good chance. Hopefully all together, with the team and drivers, we can come on really strong this season.”
Bas Leinders: Team Principal
“It’s a very good feeling going into the season knowing the Marc VDS Racing Team are stronger than ever. Both line ups are a step up from last year, and the team is dedicated and have worked tirelessly over the winter to put us in the best possible position. The BMW Z4 GT3 is a superb machine, and we know it very well now, which is an advantage. All of the team are relishing the chance of taking Marc VDS up against such a fantastic field.”