The Marc VDS Racing Team took overall and PRO Cup class victory in the third round of the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series at Circuit Paul Ricard today after a thrilling and competitive race. Yelmer Buurman (NDL)/Bas Leinders (BEL) and Maxime Martin (BEL) took a well-judged win in their BMW Z4 after frantic battles throughout the entire three-hour event.
The race witnessed a spectacular finale as a shoot-out between Maxime Martin and the Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C of Alexander Sims (GBR) reached a late conclusion. The BMW Z4 took the lead with an excellent manoeuvre at the challenging Beausset corner to claim the lead and ultimately the victory with just eleven minutes of the race remaining.
The #3 Marc VDS Racing BMW Z4 converted its pole position in to a maximum 25-point score after Yelmer Buurman set a solid foundation in the first stint despite losing the lead to the HTP Motorsport entered Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 driven by Maximilian Buhk (GER). Team manager and driver, Bas Leinders then took over the cockpit for the second stint before handing over to Maxime Martin who after getting held up by traffic, first hunted down the 2nd placed #44 Kessel Ferrari 458 Italia, and then finally, Sims’ McLaren MP4-12C.
Hexis Racing once again showed their slick pit work and manoeuvred their way to the front of the field, after excellent opening stints from first Alvaro Parente (PRT) and Stef Dusseldorp (NDL). Alexander Sims then held the lead for forty minutes of the final part of the race but was unable to resist Martin’s advances and the BMW won by 7.4 seconds.
Completing the podium at Paul Ricard was the JRM entered Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 driven by Peter Dumbreck (GBR), Lucas Luhr (GER) and Steven Kane (GBR). They consolidated their 4th placed finish at Silverstone earlier this month, to claim more valuable points and seal a first podium visit of the season.
Finishing in 4th place and extending their series points lead was the #44 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia of Davide Rigon (ITA), Cesar Ramos (BRA) and Daniel Zampieri (ITA). Leading for a time during the race, the Monza race winning entry was challenging the Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C throughout the final stint. However, a charge for the lead was ultimately thwarted by a 10-second stop/go penalty for a pit-stop infringement, which was served by Zampieri late in the race.
In the fiercely competitive PRO-AM class it was the Boutsen-Ginion McLaren MP4-12C that took a maximum points score with a flawless race from David Dermont (FRA) and Frédéric Vervisch (BEL). However, it wasn’t easy for the pair, who was reduced to a two-driver line-up just before the race when Koen Wouters withdrew because of an injury. Early in the race Dermont was hit by a Ferrari and spun, losing over twenty seconds. Some very rapid driving from Frédéric Vervisch ensured a clear victory for the Boutsen-Ginion entry, which was buoyed by the presence of Thierry Boutsen himself, at Paul Ricard, over the weekend.
A fine 2nd place in the PRO-AM category was the #35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R NISMO of Steve Doherty (USA)/Mark Schulzhitskiy (RUS) and Alex Buncombe (GBR). The team has elected to mix up their driver pairings so far this season and their strategy worked with a second consecutive podium appearance for the British team.
A fighting 3rd place in the PRO-AM category went to the Grasser Racing Team, who fought back from early contact to go one better than the 4th place last time out at Silverstone with their all-Austrian line-up of team owner Gottfried Grasser, Hari Procyzk and Gerhard Tweraser.
The Gentlemen Trophy silverware and a popular home win went to Jean-Luc Beaubelique, Jean-Luc Blanchemain and Patrice Goueslard in the #20 SOFREV-ASP run Ferrari 458 Italia. The 25 maximum points haul further enhances their category lead after a well-managed race from the all-French team. After a win at Monza and a fourth place at Silverstone, this trio are now leading the points standings by a healthy margin as the Blancpain Endurance Series heads to the TOTAL 24 HOURS OF SPA next month.
Sport Garage sealed second placed points with a fine race for Luc Paillard (FRA), Beniamino Caccia (ITA) and Bruce Lorgere Roux (FRA). The Sport Garage Ferrari led for periods of the race but ultimately had to settle for second place and a best result of the season so far.
Rounding out the podium in the Gentlemen Trophy class and making it a Ferrari 1-2-3 was the #51 AF Corse entry. Peter Mann (GBR), Filipe Barreiros (PRT) and Francisco Guedes equalled the team’s best result of the season, matching their hard-earned third place at Monza in April.
The fourth round of the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series is the highlight of the season – the 2013 TOTAL 24 HOURS OF SPA in four weeks’ time. The jewel in the crown of the GT racing season takes place over the weekend of 27-28 July.