An impressive field of 61 cars thundered towards Silverstone’ Copse Corner at the start of the second round of the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series. Wolfgang Reip started from first after his teammate Alex Buncombe had conquered pole and while the Belgian managed to hold on to the lead in the #23 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R, behind him Rob Bell moved the #58 Von Ryan McLaren from fourth to second.
Those positions did not change until 45 minutes into the race, when the evacuation of the stranded #16 Akka ASP Ferrari caused a Full Course Yellow-situation. Von Ryan Racing decided to pit both their cars and once the first round of pitstops was completely cycled through, that proved to be a golden decision. Shane Van Gisbergen had a 42 second-lead over Robin Frijns in the #1 Audi, and even though he had to save fuel to compensate for the early pitstop, the New Zealand driver managed to give the car to Kevin Estre with a healthy lead.
ISR Racing used a second Full Course Yellow-situation to move its #75 Audi up to second, but an inspired Laurens Vanthoor swiftly moved the black-and-blue Audi back to second. With the threat of the second Von Ryan McLaren gone after making contact with the #8 Bentley, the fight for third was now between Marco Bonanomi in the ISR Audi and Stéphane Ortelli in the #3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8. Ortelli had already passed the #73 MRS GT Racing Nissan at the beginning of his stint and managed to close the gap towards Bonanomi completely. Eventually passing the #75 Audi was not necessary to claim third for Ortelli, for Bonanomi incurred a five second-penalty for not respecting the track limits.
Meanwhile in front, Kevin Estre had little trouble in holding to his lead, taking an emphatic first win for Von Ryan Racing, which was also the maiden Blancpain GT Series win for the new McLaren 650S. Frijns’ and Vanthoor’s second place increases their lead in the Blancpain GT Series driver standings, as well as the advantage of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT in the team standings.
In the Pro-Am Cup Joe Osborne started the race at the wheel of the #888 Triple Eight Racing BMW and by using the same tactics as Von Ryan Racing in Pro, the Z4 even moved up to third overall, enjoying a healthy lead in the Pro-Am Cup. The second pitstop negated that advantage though, with other teams being able to makte their final pitstop during the second Full Course Yellow-period. Once all pitstops were done the #32 Leonard Motorsport AMR Aston Martin was in the lead, and despite Jann Mardenborough in the #22 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R charging hard, Stuart Leonard managed to bring the ‘Bumblebee’ Aston Martin he shared with Michael Meadows and Paul Wilson home in first. Third in Pro-Am went to one of the stalwarts of the Blancpain Endurance Series, with the drivers of the #14 Emil Frey Racing Jaguar taking an emotional maiden podium finish.
In the Am Cup, polesitter Fabien Barthez’ lead was short-lived when his #16 Akka ASP Ferrari lost a wheel after making contact with another car. After a couple of laps of interesting skirmishes the #15 Boutsen Ginion BMW appeared in the lead and Olivier Grötz and Karim Ojjeh brought the car home in first. The #24 Team Parker Racing Audi looked set for a podium finish, but in the dying minutes of the race the #25 Glorax Racing Ferrari of Mancini-Birzhin-Mastronardi and the #42 Sport Garage Ferrari of newcomers Hamon-Samon-Paillard managed to climb to a top-3 position.
Shane Van Gisbergen (#58 Von Ryan Racing McLaren): “The team made a great tactical choice. We knew we could do it, but it was still tough to save fuel and still keep a good lap time. I had a good run through the traffic, and did as many laps as possible. It is pretty exciting to win my first win in Europe and I already received the congratulations of my dad in New Zealand, even though it is 4 am over there.”
Laurens Vanthoor (#1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8): “Our goal this year is to win championships, so taking a win in the first race and finishing second here is not bad. At the beginning of my stint I did my best to catch the #75 Audi, but I knew that it would be very difficult to catch Kevin in the McLaren. They were the better team this weekend, had a better strategy and thoroughly deserve the win.”
Stéphane Ortelli (#3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8): “It was a tough final stint, but that is exactly what I like. The duel with the Nissan was nice and fair and I was happy I could get past, because they were quicker on the straights. This is an important podium for the team and it’s a good feeling to share a podium finish with Frank (Stippler, ed.) for the first time in our careers, even though we have been racing for the same team for some years now.”
Michael Meadows (#32 Leonard Motorsport Aston Martin): “It was pretty nerve wracking for us when Stuart was doing the final stint, being chased by Mardenborough. But he did exactly what he needed to do and drove a superb final stint. We had a very good race, a very clean race for once, and it paid dividends in the end.”
Karim A. Ojjeh (#15 Boutsen Ginion BMW): “Our race engineer did a fabulous job of getting us in when there was a Full Course Yellow and we took advantage of that. When I started the final stint we had a healthy lead, thanks to a absolute fantastic stint of Olivier, so there was not that much pressure on me. The car was awesome, so I could keep it cool and get it to the finish.”
Zolder 05-07 June (Sprint)
Press Images & Results : www.blancpain-GT-series/pressmembers
Livetiming & livestreaming : www.blancpain-gt-series/GT TV/live
Follow us on
Twitter : www.twitter.com/BlancpainGT
Facebook : Blancpain GT Series
Instagram : blancpaingtseries
Blancpain GT Series APP available on :
Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT Racing
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2015, SRO promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series (with the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa), the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and the newly-created GT Sports Club and Ultracar Sports Club. SRO Motorsports Group has various franchise agreements, including the GT4 European Series.
SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC, a high-level technical centre at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.