It will be a warm welcome back to the Blancpain Endurance Series for Anthony Beltoise at Nürburgring. The 42 year old Frenchman competed last season with the PRO GT by Almeras team in a Porsche but he now gets in to the cockpit of a McLaren MP4-12C with Gulf Racing in the Pro-Am category.
We spoke to Anthony about the exciting opportunity he has to partner Mike Wainwright in the famous Gulf colours at the Blancpain 1000 event.
How did this opportunity to race for Gulf Racing come about, Anthony?
“Actually, the team called me. I already knew Mike (Wainwright), and was familiar with the Gulf Racing team, as I raced for them in the Lamborghini for at Spa in 2010. This is when I met everybody from the team, and I guess they had a good impression of me, as they called me back!
From what you have seen do you think of the Blancpain Endurance Series this season?
“I really like the Blancpain Endurance Series. I did the whole season last year and I really feel that every year it grows in strength, both in teams’ performances and drivers’ performances. Today as it stands, it is really great. This is the series where we can find the best cars, the best teams and the best drivers.
Last year you finished the Nurburgring race second in the Pro Am category; do you think you can be on the podium again this year?
“I really hope that I will be on the podium again this year! In any case, we are going there to do just that. It is true that last year, the Nürburgring was our only podium of the season (with Henry Hassid), so I hope we will be able to climb on those steps again.
Is it a track that you like?
“Yes, the Nürburging is a track that I like, except for the first sector, which is according to me, too sinuous. To me, this sector, and especially turns two and three are breaking up the pace, compared to the rest of the track. Otherwise, I love the track. It has various interesting challenges for a driver.”
You are used to driving Porsche GTs but driving the McLaren will not be new for you as you are racing with the Sebastien Loeb Racing in the French GT championship. Do you think the Nürburgring will be a good track for the McLaren?
“Honestly, yes, I think that it will be a good track that will suit the McLaren…except perhaps for sector one because with its turbo engine, the car does not have a lot of torque out of slow turns. But on the opposite side, it is very efficient in medium-speed and fast corners, and this is what we can find in both sectors two and three. The only thing that will be new for me this year are the Pirelli tyres. I will have to adapt to new grip conditions but what is great in Blancpain Endurance Series is that everything happens within two days, and we always kept busy. So, I will just have to adapt to those new parameters quickly!
You will share the wheel with Mike Wainwright, with who you already drove in the past. What do you think will be the strength of your line-up?
“I think that our strength will be that we are only two drivers, and Mike practiced a lot. He has improved a lot, and he has become very reliable. A 6-hour race, is a small endurance event, so we will need to be reliable, to avoid any issue or contact on the track because there will be a lot of cars, and I think that if we do these things we will be in a good position at the end.”
Who do you anticipate will be your main competitors?
“I think that Henry Hassid, my former teammate will be in the TDS BMW Z4 (which he shares with Ludovic Badey). We know each others strength and weakness very well. To be honest, there are so many great line-ups that it is hard to only name one…!”