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Bas Leinders: “We are prepared for any eventuality”

17 September 2013

Bas you must have been busy before Nürburgring?

“Yes, you can certainly say that. We are trying to get everything together in order to be as well prepared as possible. We are in great shape heading towards the weekend.

It is great news that Maxime is going to stay on board. Was that a case of getting authorisation from BMW?

“Yes, actually the main plan for Maxime this season was ALMS as a BMW works driver but at the moment he cannot win that championship anymore and we can still win this one (Blancpain Endurance Series) so it makes sense for him to be here in Germany, even if it is going to be difficult for us to win it. So, after Spa we requested to have Maxime with us and he also wanted that as well. So BMW gave us the permission to do it and here we are.”

There are still a lot of teams that can mathematically win the title. 33 points up for grabs at Nürburgring for the victory. Some people say that it is between you, Kessel, and WRT but there are others that can still take it as well.

“Yes, that is for sure, we should not rule anybody out and we will definitely not forget the Mercedes with Bühk. For the championship, the leaders have 50 points, so also our second car, the #4 BMW Z4 can still win the championship too. It is amazingly close.”

Last year when you arrived at Navarra, it was only between Marc VDS Racing team and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and it was just a regular 3-hour race. So much more can happen in a 6-hour race so it is a very different set of circumstances 12 months on!

“Yes, that is for sure! Double the time, double the trouble! As you say, anything can happen. Last year, we were the favorites and all the pressure was on us because we were leading when we arrived at Navarra whereas this year we don’t feel the pressure. We started the season with some good objectives but knowing that it would be a lot more difficult than it was last year. I don’t like to complain about BOP (Balance of Performance) but for BMW it is not so easy and it is more difficult than last year. There is also more competition with the other cars that are faster this year, like the Ferrari and the Mercedes. So, it makes things more difficult to win.”

Do you anticipate the same level of competitiveness with the Z4 that you had last year at the Nürburgring?

“Like I said, BOP-wise we are not as strong as we were last year. In 2012, we managed to qualify at the front, but I don’t think that will be possible this season. We will have Mercedes and Ferrari probably in front of us and maybe some others too. So, it will be difficult to get the result that we would like but of course we will be all out attacking, to do our best!”

Things came together for you at Paul Ricard, how do you look back at that race now?

“Well, I think everything just worked out as it was planned, not that you can really plan anything to detail in this series because it is so competitive and unpredictable. Everything went the right way for us; our pit stops, our stints, all the drivers did a great job and everything worked perfectly. It was good that we had the chicane and not the long straight because otherwise it would have been impossible for us. But I really don’t think that we had the strongest car there, yet we still had the pace and did the best job to come through as winners.”

Do you think tyre-wear will be a significant part of the result next weekend?

“Yes, I think tyre-wear will be important in the six-hour race. At the end of a stint if you will obviously have a little bit less wear, maybe you can have a little more performance but at the same time it will be impossible to do double-stints with those tyres. So, in the end I think it will be the same as for a normal 3-hour race, tyre-wear wise anyway, even if the temperature is cool.”

One of the aspects of the Blancpain last year was the rivalry between Marc VDS and WRT, two top Belgians teams. That rivalry is always good for spectators and TV, but where is that rivalry today? Is it still respectful? How do you view it?

“Well, in the end, the only thing that we want to do is to have a fair and sporting race on the track and in the pit lane, and then everyone will be happy. We want to beat everybody and not just one team specifically. We would like to win the series, but in the end I would just say that the best car, drivers and team will win this championship.”

If it comes down to it for the last hour and you are in the top six with Kessel, WRT, etc…do you, as a team manager, get your calculator out and start worrying about points and the permutations?

“The best thing to do is actually to win the race. There is no other option then, the job is done.  But yes, we have already done the maths, so everything is prepared. We have all the permutations. It will be helpful as you said if we are 6th and that we then need to be 5th to get the title, we can say to our driver to fight. It will all be calculated and we are prepared for any eventuality.”