In just under three weeks, the inaugural Champions of the Blancpain Endurance Series will finally be determined, with the battle almost certain to go down to the very last laps around the Silverstone circuit. After Italy, Spain, Belgium and France, this exciting new endurance series reserved exclusively for GT3 and GT4 cars will be heading for Great Britain and the high-powered circuit of Silverstone. The former World War II airbase, now better known as the home of British motorsport, is a fitting location for the final race of the 2011 season.
With three hours of racing left and no fewer than eight titles set to be decided, there will be plenty of action before the Champions are finally named… GT3 Drivers titles are still open in the Pro, Pro-Am and Gentlemen Trophy categories, as well as GT4, with the Team titles open in all except for the Pro category. But whoever emerges victorious, after a thrilling season it is already certain that the Blancpain Endurance Series will have some very worthy winners.
GT3 PRO: EVERYONE IS CHASING GREG…
The Pro category, with no driver classifications, has produced the overall winners in all races so far, and is also the only category to have a Champion already in place. Thanks to their stunning Spa victory, allied to a strong performance from the second car, Magny Cours saw Belgian Audi Club Team WRT secure the Teams crown, scoring an unbeatable 97.5 points.
However, a grand total of eight drivers could still claim the inaugural Drivers title. They are led by WRT’s Greg Franchi, winner of the Total 24 Hours of Spa in the nr33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS. The 29-year-old Belgian driver has a huge lead of 21.5 points over his nearest rivals, meaning that a finish of eighth or higher will secure the title.
“The podium finish in Magny Cours was good for the team as we secured the team title,” Greg said. “But now we have to go to Silverstone to try and add the Driver’s title. Silverstone is a good driver’s track and we should be able to do well there. I’m trying not to think too hard about the title but it is difficult not to. I have a good advantage in the points but I still have to do my best and I want to win the title in the best possible way, preferably with a victory.”
As for those wishing to deny him the title, only a win will do…
First among his adversaries is the AutOrlando trio of Paolo Ruberti, Gianluca Roda and Raffaele Gianmaria. The first-ever Blancpain winners, on home ground in Monza, took victory in their Porsche 997 GT3 R, as well as podium finishes in both Navarra and Magny-Cours.
“We have a lot to do at Silverstone if we are to win the title,” Gianmaria commented. “Spa cost us a lot, we had a lot of problems, especially Paolo (Ruberti) who is lucky to be here after a very dangerous crash. AutOrlando Sport is a very small team, but we will fight all the way and we will be fighting for the title in Silverstone.”
Some of Franchi’s rivals come from closer to home, namely the drivers of the Nr33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS, Bert Longin, Stephane Ortelli and Filipe Albuquerque. With two podiums to date, they have 56 points and are currently third, their results having helped their team to claim the title. But the drivers are still aiming for the top.
“We still have a chance to win the 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone and after two second places at Monza and Navarra we will try our very best to take the win at the last race of the year,” explained Bert Longin. ”
The final driver still able to overhaul Franchi is Marc VDS Racing’s Markus Palttala. The Finn, who started the season at the wheel of a Ford GT, switched to the team’s new BMW Z4 to claim the team’s first-ever overall victory at Magny-Cours alongside Maxime Martin and Bas Leinders.
“It was great to win for Marc VDS and BMW in Magny-Cours and we're all set for another strong performance in the Silverstone final,” commented Markus. “My target is to get in the top three in the championship, but as long as there is a chance to win the title, I'll fight for it. It is a bit of a long shot requiring us to repeat our win in France and WRT to hit trouble, but it certainly isn't impossible. We will at least try to do the former and see where we are in the end. I hope we'll have a trouble free weekend and finish off the season in a positive note. Looking back to the four previous events, it's a shame we had some trouble in Monza and Navarra and a crash in Spa. Without some of those problems we'd be in a better position come Silverstone. But that's racing and we'll fight until the end."
GT3 PRO-AM CUP: A FRANCO-GERMAN FERRARI DUEL
After four races and thirty-three hours of racing, the title in the Pro-Am category is now down to a duel between the Ferrari 458 Italia cars entered by French team SOFREV ASP and the Germans for Vita4One. So will it be Franck Morel, Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Ludovic Badey, representing the French side, or Niek Hommerson and Louis Machiels for the honour of the German team?
With two class victories in Navarra and at the Spa 24 Hours, followed by second place at Magny Cours, the French trio are currently leading the Pro-Am Cup with 81.5 points, just 5.5 points ahead of their only rivals for the title in the nr2 Vita4One Ferrari.
SOFREV team boss Jérôme Policand said “As a team, we are both delighted and rather surprised to be going for the title in our first year of competition. We’ve been concentrating on the Porsche Carrera Cup for the last eight years, with excellent results and many titles in France, but have not claimed a title on the international stage since winning the Renault Clio V6 Trophy many years ago! So it’s a surprise to be competitive from the start, and really fantastic.”
“The excellent thing about the Pro-Am category in the Blancpain is that you can also get some excellent results overall,” Policand continued. “It’s the real advantage that the series has over other endurance formats – with one main category of cars, any car entered can hope to get a good overall result. And that is a real bonus compared to series with four or five categories of car. Unfortunately, we’ve had less luck with our Pro Cup car, which despite the same preparation, the same support, has had a series of problems - but that is motorsport.”
Victory in the last round at Magny Cours got Niek Hommerson and Louis Machiels back into the Pro-Am title race in style after the disappointments of the Spa 24 Hours where they were excluded while in the lead.
Niek Hommerson commented: “Magny Cours was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work because I had to start in P20. I must say it is really sweet to finally stand on the top step of the podium, especially as we should have done so at Spa. We will be aiming to do the same in Silverstone and fight all the way to take the title in England.”
SOFREV ASP has a seven-point lead over Vita4One in the Teams classification, meaning that nothing will be decided until the final tally is made. Much will be at stake around Silverstone’s 5.89 km track…
CLICK HERE for the Championship Positions after Round 4 (PDF File)
IN THE NEXT PRESS RELEASE
THE BATTLE FOR THE GT3 GENTLEMEN TROPHY, GT3 CUP and GT4 CUP
For further information on the Blancpain Endurance Series visit the official website at www.blancpain-endurance-series.com
Blancpain Endurance Series Press
Blancpain Endurance Series Press
Blancpain, a tradition of innovation for over 275 years
In 1735, Jehan-Jacques Blancpain began his watchmaking activity and installed his first workshop on the upper floor of his family home in Villeret, a village in the Swiss Jura mountains. By inscribing his name in the official communal property register, this pioneer created an establishment that is now the world’s oldest watch brand.
Throughout its history, Blancpain has succeeded in maintaining solid continuity in its capacity for innovation and its respect for traditional horological values. Whether by perfecting complications, designs and production methods, or by exploring new horizons, the Manufacture has been devoted for more than 275 years to taking the art of watchmaking to places it has never yet ventured. From the first models created in the 18th century to the prestigious timepieces currently emerging from its workshops, Blancpain has forged an authentic tradition of innovation. The key to its success lies in the mastery of all fields involved in making an exceptional mechanical timepiece – from the creation of the movement and its components through to the functional design of the watch, along with the choice of materials and the extremely refined and entirely hand-crafted finishing.
Without ever straying from its precious heritage, the brand steadfastly pursues its quest for performance, precision and elegance by offering a range of exceptional timepieces equipped with the most sophisticated horological complications. The nature of its collections – including the pure lines of the Villeret, the efficient complexity of Le Brassus, and the avant-garde design of L-evolution – is firmly rooted in watchmaking traditions while constantly pushing them towards new limits. In the same way, the ladies’ collection celebrates beauty and refinement, while the Sport collection is composed of instrument watches that are ready to face any situation on land, under water or in the air.
While remaining unswervingly loyal to its values, Blancpain regularly associates with partners that share its passion for excellence. Whether in the field of motorsports, sailing, scuba diving, or that of gastronomy and the art of living, the Manufacture is proud of its partnerships that represent far more than mere co-branding. On the contrary, Blancpain commits itself fully to such forms of cooperation by joining forces with its partners in a determination to excel and to foster both creativity and authenticity.
Thursday, 22 September 2011
INAUGURAL SERIES DECIDER AT SILVERSTONE : 16 DAYS TO GO
Posted by AmigosRacing/MRS GT. at 15:32