Zandvoort hosts the season finale of the 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series. With five drivers still possible candidates for the overall title, the race through the Dutch dunes promises to be both interesting and exciting, especially since some renowned replacement drivers will strengthen the entry list.
Five drivers enter the seventh and final round of the 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series with a shot at the overall title: Norbert Siedler (Rinaldi Racing Ferrari), Maxi Buhk and Vincent Abril (Bentley Team HTP) and Robin Frijns and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgian Audi Club Team WRT). However, Vanthoor, who is the joint leader of the standings on the eve of the Dutch weekend, will be the first to agree that his chances on taking the sprint crown are theoretical at best. Since the Belgian is absent due to injuries sustained during last week’s qualifying race in Misano, he cannot defend his title chances. There is still one scenario in which Vanthoor becomes champion, but that includes Siedler not scoring more than 17 points, Buhk and Abril not more than eight, and last but not least that Vanthoor’s year-long team-mate Robin Frijns does not score a single point in Zandvoort. Chances are slim that those conditions will be fulfilled, but weirder things have happened in the world of motorsports.
However, Robin Frijns will be able to defend his lead on track. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has provided him with a new car, since their Audi R8 affectionately called ‘Rose’ proved to be beyond repairs after the Misano crash. The team will announce the name of Vanthoor’s replacement before the start of the weekend. For Dutchman Robin Frijns it will be his first competitive outing in Zandvoort since his Formula Renault days in 2011.
No such problems for Bentley drivers Maxi Buhk and Vincent Abril on the other hand. They both have plenty of GT experience on the Dutch track, with Buhk finishing fourth in last year’s Blancpain Sprint Series main race and Abril taking the win in the Silver Cup on the same occasion. At one point during the 2015 season the German-French duo was down 34 points on series leaders Vanthoor and Frijns, but by finishing three times on the podium – including a win on the Moscow Raceway – the Bentley Boys have reduced that gap to eight points before the start of the final round. With still 34 points up for grabs in Zandvoort, Buhk and Abril have a more than decent shot at the crown.
Norbert Siedler’s title chances are a bit slimmer, but with a 17-point deficit they are far from non-existant. Together with his regular team-mate Marco Seefried the Austrian scored his first wins in Misano – with the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari crossing the line in first position in both the qualifying and main races – but due to prior engagements Seefried cannot make it to the Dutch coast. Siedler and Rinaldi have found an A-grade replacement driver though, in the person of Jeroen Bleekemolen. The man who literally grew up on the Zandvoort tarmac was fighting for last year’s Blancpain Sprint Series drivers’ title right up until the final round, with the win in the qualifying race in Zandvoort one of the four wins the Dutchman scored in 2014. Bleekemolen even has some previous experience with the Ferrari 458, having driven the Prancing Horse in a race in Japan last year, albeit in GTE configuration.
Siedler’s biggest handicap might well be the fact that there is only one Ferrari at the start in Zandvoort. Frijns will certainly get the help from the other cars in the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT armada, while Bentley Team HTP has another Continental GT3 in their line-up, for Silver Cup drivers Van Splunteren and Szymkowiak.
They will also by preoccupied by their own title fight, because not only the overall title is at stake in Zandvoort. The duel for the Silver Cup is still in full swing as well. With the Dutch Bentley pairing hardly scoring any points during the two most recent rounds of the series, the lead of Szymkowiak has been reduced to 16 points. Anders Fjordbach is his only remaining rival however, since the other half of the Fjordback twins – Thomas – cannot make it to Zandvoort. He will be replaced by another Danish driver, Michael Markussen.
Zandvoort is also the final round of the overall 2015 Blancpain GT Series, combining sprint and endurance races. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has conquered the teams title since the sprint round in Algarve, but for the drivers title there are still three candidates: here too Frijns and Vanthoor share the lead and they have a 27-point lead over Maxi Buhk. That means that the German has to outscore Frijns by at least three points in Saturday’s qualifying race to take that title fight to the wire.
In short: with five cars on the grid having title candidates at the wheel, the Zandvoort season finale promises to be a worthy end of an already eventful 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series season.
Robin Frijns (#1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT): “What happened to Laurens in Misano is very unfortunate, and it also feels very odd to end this season without him. When I entered this GT3 program, I was a real rookie. I only had single seater experience. Laurens had to teach me how to drive the car, how to get the most out of it. It is thanks to him that I am able to do the lap times I am doing now. So whatever happens in Zandvoort: if I am still on top of the standings on Sunday night, in my mind both Laurens and I will be the new champions.”
Norbert Siedler (#333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari): “It is great to have Jeroen as my team-mate in Zandvoort. He is very experienced and is one of the quickest drivers around the world. Marco and I both agreed that he certainly is a good replacement driver! I don't want to speak about the chance of winning the title, but we will definitely work hard to have a good weekend and good results. The chances are small but in racing everything can happen. I hope Laurens Vanthoor will get better soon and all the Rinaldi Team wish him good luck and a speedy recovery.”
Vincent Abril (#83 Bentley Team HTP Continental GT3): “This year has been a massive challenge for me, and fighting for the title until the last race is very rewarding. We have a chance to win it, and we will fight until the last second of the Main race on Sunday to achieve our goal. Our rivals will have new team-mates, which isn't the case for us. My partnership with Maxi this year has been fantastic, both on and off the track, and hopefully this will play to our advantage during the title decider in Zandvoort!”
Provisional Entry List
Friday, 9 October
Free Practice 1 13:30-14:50
Free Practice 2 16:30-17:50
Saturday, 10 October
Qualifying Race 14:15-15:15
Sunday, 11 October
Warm up 09:25-09:45
Main Race 13:00-14:00
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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.