Wednesday 18 May 2011

Blancpain Endurance Series: Spanish ‘Bull Run’ for Second Blancpain Series Race Weekend

PREVIEW: Spanish ‘Bull Run’ for Second Blancpain Series Race Weekend

The Northern Spanish circuit of Navarra will be the host for the second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series and teams will have their final chance to fine tune their cars before the Blue Riband event, the Total 24 Hours of Spa in July. While Monza was opened in 1922, and is one of the best know circuits in Europe, Navarra is brand new, only opening in 2010, but the Spanish circuit has already established a reputation for providing exciting racing whatever the category or championship.

Last month Monza hosted the first ever Blancpain Endurance Series race and fittingly it was the Italian team AutOrlando Sport and Italian driver Paolo Rubeti who took the chequered flag to record the first ever Blancpain Endurance Series win. Ruberti was joined by Gianluca Roda and Raffaele Gianmaria on the top step of the podium. The second placed car was the nr32 Belgian Audi Club Audi R8 LMS of Stephane Ortelli, Bert Longin and Filipe Albuquerqe, which finished 58 second behind the Porsche but led the race before it had to pit for a splash and dash pitstop 10 laps from home. An early puncture also delayed the Audi but they fought back to claim a podium place in the first race of the season. The Marc VDS Ford GT of Bas Leinders, Maxime Martin and Markus Palttala was third.

The class winners were Marc A Hayek and Peter Kox in the Blancpain-Reiter Lamborghini (GT3 Pro-Am Cup), with Hayek bringing the car home in 4th overall. Georges Cabannes and Gregory Guilvert were the GT3 Citiation Cup winners in the Ruffier Racing Lamborghini Gallardo and the GT4 Cup was won by the Lotus Italia team with Edoardo Piscopo, Leo Mansell and Greg Mansell holding off the challenge of the RJN Motorsport Nissan to claim the first GT4 Class win of the new series.

Navarra hosted its first international sportscar event last September when the Spanish circuit hosted the final European round of the 2010 FIA GT1 World Championship. While GT1 will visit in July, the Blancpain Endurance Series will be the first international GT endurance event the track has staged.

Fourteen cars will compete in the GT3 Pro Cup class, with title leaders Paolo Ruberti, Gianluca Roda and Raffaele Gianmaria looking to extend their lead in the AutOrlando Sport Porsche against the Aston Martins, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Audis, Fords and BMW of their rivals. Reigning FIA GT1 World Champion Michael Bartels will be hoping for better luck than he and teammates Frank Kechele and Nico Verdonck had in Monza in the Vita4One Ferrari 458. All three drivers drove in the GT1 race at Navarra last year and will be hoping their experience will pay dividends. Navarra will see a new entry by the Faster Racing by DB MOTORSPORT with the BMW Z4. The Dutch team tasted success on the international stage in the FIA GT3 race in Portugal with a third place for Jeroen den Boer in Round 1. The team will be hoping to build on their FIA success in the Blancpain Endurance Series in Spain.

Nine cars are entered in the GT3 Pro-Am Cup with Mark A Hayek and Peter Kox arriving in Monza on a high note after taking maximum points in Italy. However the Blancpain sponsored Reiter team will not be resting on their laurels. The Gulf Racing First team will be making their first appearance of the year, with Frederic Fatien, Jean-Pierre Valentini and Andrea Barlesi lining up to drive the United Arab Emirates teams Lamborghini Gallardo. The two Lamborghini teams will be joing by the Rhino’s Leipart Lamborghini and they will face stiff opposition from the three Ferrari 458s run by AF Corse, SOFREV Auto Sport and Vita4One, a GPR AMR Aston Martin DBRS9, a De Lorenzi Racing run Porsche 997 and a Ferrari 430 Scuderia prepared by the French Sport Garage team.

In the GT3 Citation Cup Championship leader Georges Cabannes’ teammate has yet to be announced but the Ruffier Racing Lamborghini will be once again challenging for top honours against Ferrari and Porsche.

The GT4 Cup features six entries but what it is definitely a case of the quality over quantity. The Lotus Italia Evora of Edoardo Piscopo, Leo Mansell and Greg Mansell was the top car in Monza but the RJN Nissan 370Z, The GPR Aston Martin Vantage, the Lotus Driving Academy Evora, the De Lorenzi Racing Ginetta G50 and the Gentle Swiss Racing Maserati MC Granturismo will all be hoping to take the honours in the final test before Spa.

The weekend will feature two 60-mniute Free Practice sessions; three 15-minute qualifying sessions, one for each driver, with the fastest time determining the grid for the 180-minute race on Sunday. The three race will include two mandatory pit stops, with tyre and driver change. Points will be awarded using the FIA system in each class, with the winners receiving 25 points, second 18 points, down to 1 point for 10th place.

All the latest information can be found at where visitors can also watch the races, which will be streamed live on Sunday.

Info: Blancpain Endurance Series/Acreditated media press.

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