Monday 10 October 2011

Marc VDS BMW wins at Silverstone as Champions are Crowned

Marc VDS BMW wins at Silverstone as Champions are Crowned

The nr40 Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 of Bas Leinders, Markus Palttala and Maxime Martin was the strongest car in the 3-hour race at Silverstone, with Martin taking the chequered flag to claim the second win of the season. The victory gave Markus Palttala enough points to claim the Vice Champions position. Greg Franchi finished 5th in the nr33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8, which was enough to confirm the Belgian driver as the 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Cup Champion.

The nr40 BMW finished 28 seconds ahead of the nr32 Belgian Audi Club Audi R8, with Stephane Ortelli claiming the second step on the podium for himself, Bert Longin and Filipe Albuquerque with a last lap move at Abbey on the nr29 Vita4One Ferrari 458 of Giacomo Petrobelli.

The Pro-AM Cup was claimed by Niek Hommerson and Louis Machiels when Michael Bartels took the chequered flag in 8th overall and win the Pro-Am class, finishing ahead of the nr90 Team Preci Spark Mercedes of David and Godfrey Jones and the nr24 Blancpain Reiter Lamborghini of Marc A Hayek and Peter Kox. The win also confirmed Vita4One as the GT3 Pro-Am Cup Team Champions.

The GT3 Gentlemen Trophy win went to the nr22 Sport Garage Ferrari 430 Scuderia of Lionel Comole, Chris Dymond and Robert Hissom, with second place for George Cabannes confirming the Frenchman as GT3 Gentlemen Trophy Champion in the Ruffier Racing Lamborghini, also confirming the Team trophy for the French team. Third in the Gentlemen Trophy Class went to the GT3 Cup Champion Sergio Negroni, who was racing the De Lorenzi Racing Porsche with Luigi Emiliani and Marco Cassera.

The GT4 Cup victory went to the Lotus Sport Italia Lotus of Greg Mansell, Edoardo Piscopo and Leo Mansell, but second place for the RJN Motorsport Nissan 370Z of Chris Ward, Jordan Tresson and Alex Buncombe gave the drivers and the teams enough points to be confirmed as the 2011 GT4 Cup Champions.

ROUND 5- Silverstone

A slightly delayed race start due to the over running of the earlier support races saw the nr41 Alpina B6 of Niki Meyr-Melnhof take advantage of hs pole position to lead into the first corner as the lights went to green to start the final race of the 2011 season. The nr50 AF Corse Ferrari of Marco Cioci made a good start to exit Copse in 2nd place before dropping back behind the nr40 BMW of Bas Leinders and the nr60 McLaren of Phil Quaife before the end of the opening lap.

The top 3 cars moved ahead of the rest of the field with the Alpina opening up a four second lead by the tenth lap. Frank Kechele in the nr1 Vita4One Ferrari started to move up and was 4th as the clock counted off the first 30-minutes of the race.

In GT4 the RJN Motorsport Nissan headed to the pits with a loss of engine power, but the mechanics found the problem and returned Alex Buncombe to the track four laps behind the GT4 leaders but still in the race. The nr100 BMW's lead was short lived as the car stopped on track at T1 with smoke coming from the engine bay.

On lap 19 Kechele caught and passed the nr60 McLaren of Phil Quaife and then caught the second placed BMW. However Leinders responded to the challenge and opened up a small gap to the Ferrari as he started to catch the leading ALpina. As the pitstops Leinders got a run on Meyr-Melholf and swept into the lead. The Alpina then headed to the pits. The pitstop took longer than anticipated and Dylan Derdaele returned to the track in 4th place. However it was even worse in the Vita4One pits as the nr1 failed to restart for Matteo Bobbi and the Italian was left stranded in the pits as the mechanics rushed to find the problem.

Leinders pitted from the lead to hand over to Markus Palttala and the Finn returned to track with a 10 second lead over new challenger Carlos Iaconelli in the nr29 Vita4One Ferrari. The Brazilian started to close the gap to the leading BMW but Palttala soon responded and opened the gap again before the Ferrari could get within striking distance.

In the Pro-Am class Peter Kox had taken over the driving duties from Marc Hayek in the nr24 Blancpain-Reiter Lamborghini and was slicing through the field. He was soon on terms with the class leader Godfrey Jones in the Team Preci Spark Mercedes and took the class lead on lap 49.

The nr22 Sport Garage Ferrari 430 was leading the Gentlemen Trophy Class thanks to a great drive from Chris Dymond from the back of the grid and Robert Hissom continued to move the car up the top 20 standings as the second pitstops approached.

The two Team WRT Audis were starting to move up the field with the nr32 car of Filipe Albuquerque moving up to 3rd after challenging and passing the nr9 AutOrlando Porsche of Paolo Ruberti. The nr33 Audi of Andrea Piccini had also made progress up the top 10 and as the second hour came to an end the Italian was in 5th.

The great start for the nr60 McLaren came to a grinding halt on lap 47 when Klaas Hummel spun at Luffield and got stuck in the gravel trap, bringing out the waved yellows and the snatch vehicle for several laps.

The nr41 Alpina was down in 10th place after Derdaele pitted early to hand the car over to Dino Lunardi, who immediately set the fastest lap of the race as he pushed on to get on terms with the leaders. Markus Palttala also pitted to hand over to Maxime Martin, who regained the track in the lead of the race after the pitstops had shaken out.

It was now a straight run to the chequered flag over the final 60-minutes and Lunardi was making great strides as he picked off the cars ahead of him. Then disaster struck on lap 62 when a puncture to the front left tyre left the French driver limping back to the pits fro new rubber.

Peter Kox pitted from 2nd place to hand over to Marc Hayek for the remainder of the race while Michael Bartels had taken over the driving duties in the nr2 Vita4One Ferrari. The 2010 FIA GT1 World Champion soon caught and passed the Mercedes of David Jones and then reeled in Hayek's Lamborghini to take the lead in the Pro-Am Class on lap 74 after the Swiss driver held off Bartels challenge for the previous two laps.

Maxime Martin held a comfortable 30 seconds over the nr29 Vita4One Ferrari of Giacomo Petrobelli while Stephane Ortelli was closing the 15-second gap to the second placed car in the nr32 Belgian Audi Club Audi by 1-second a lap.

On lap 77 the Gentlemen Trophy leader Lionel Comole brought the nr22 Sport Garage Ferrari in for a quick splash and dash and was able to regain the track still ahead of the nr31 Ruffier Racing Lamborghini of Gilles Vannelet. In GT4 the nr70 Lotus Sport Italia Evora of Greg Mansell held a comfortable three lap lead over Chris Ward in the nr63 RJN Nissan but Ward knew he only had to finish the race to secure the GT4 Driver and Team titles.

Just as it looked like it was going to be a cruise to the finish line mother nature decided to spice things up as a rain shower hit Silverstone with 12-minutes of the race remaining. Stephane Ortelli nearly got caught out by the conditions as he pushed the Audi hard in an attempt to get on terms with the second placed Ferrari before the end of the race. The Le Mans 24-Hour winner collected the car and closed the gap with just two laps of the race remaining. Ortelli made his move on the last lap to wrest the second place finish from Petrobelli at Luffield.

The chequered flag came out at the end of the 85th lap and Maxime Martin crossed the line to take the second win in a row for the Marc VDS team and secure the Vice Champions position for Markus Palttala in the Drivers Championship and also in the Team Championship.

The AutOrlando Sport Porsche was 4th, ahead of Christopher Mies in the nr33 Team WRT Audi, which secured the Pro Cup title for co-driver Greg Franchi.












Bas Leinders / Markus Palttala / Maxime Martin







Bert Longin / Filipe Albuquerqe / Stephane Ortelli

Audi R8 LMS







Giacamo Petrobelli / Carlos Iacomelli / Filip Salaquarda

Ferrari 458 Italia







Gianluca Roda / Paolo Ruberti / Raffaele Gianmaria

Porsche 997 GT3 R







Greg Franchi / Christopher Mies / Andrea Piccini

Audi R8 LMS







Nikolaus Mayr-Melnhof / Dylan Derdaele / Dino Lunardi

Alpina B6







Marco Cioci / Pierguiseppe Perazzini / Matt Griffin

Ferrari 458 Italia







Nick Hommerson / Louis Machiels / Michael Bartels

Ferrari 458 Italia







Godfrey Jones / David Jones

Mercedes SLS AMG







Marc A. Hayek / Peter Kox

Lamborghini LP 600




CLICK HERE for the full result from Round 5

CLICK HERE for the Race Facts

CLICK HERE for the final Championship Positions

Bas Leinders

nr40 Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4

"I got a good start from the second row of the grid, but then the Ferrari came past me and hit the Audi in the first corner, which I was able to take advantage of. I outbraked the Ferrari into Stowe on the opening lap to take second place, but by then the Alpina had already escaped at the front. I managed to close the gap as the race progressed, eventually putting in a pass and taking the race lead right at the end of my stint. Markus and Max then did a good job to defend the lead to the end of the race. It's a great feeling to finish our Blancpain campaign with a second race win for the team and for BMW. Today's result is a fitting reward for everyone in the team, all of whom have worked so hard this season. Congratulations also to Markus on finishing the series as vice-champion."

Markus Palttala

nr40 Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4

"Mine was a fairly easy stint. I was aware the Ferrari was closing just after the pit stop, but once I'd got heat into the tyres I was able to manage the gap at the front of the race quite comfortably, even while running the leanest map to conserve fuel. I came into this weekend lying fifth in the championship and looking to finish the season in the top three, so to be vice-champion is a great feeling. For that I have to thank Max and Bas, who have both driven superbly this season, as well as everyone in the team. I'd also like to say a big thank you to Marc van der Straten, without whom none of this would have been possible."

Maxime Martin

nr40 Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4

"I knew I had a good gap back to second, so I wasn't too concerned when it started raining halfway through my stint. I just kept up my pace, took it easy, and brought the car home. Today's win was a good result for the guys in the team, who did a great job once again with the pit stops today. Endurance racing is a team effort and taking our second successive win in the Blancpain Series shows just how strong a team we have behind us. It was a great way to end the series, especially as today's win also meant Markus finished as vice-champion, so congratulations to him."

Greg Franchi

Nr33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS

2011 Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Cup Champion

“It is something fantastic to be the first champion of this new Series. Things didn’t start off too well in Monza; the car had problems, so we started the season without many points. This Championship came mainly through our victory at the 24 Hours of Spa and I’d like to thank all of my teammates who have helped me to this title – Matthias Ekstrom and Timo Scheider at Spa, Andrea Piccini and Marcel Fässler in all the other races up to now and, for this one at Silverstone, Christopher Mies. This victory wasn’t mine alone it came thanks to all my teammates and I thank them with all my heart. I’d also like to thank Team WRT who have been supporting me for the past two years since my victory in the Belcar and now victory in the Blancpain Endurance Series and the Total 24 Hours of Spa. I also must thank Audi Sport and Audi Belgium for their support. This is a fantastic championship and I’m very proud to be the first ever champion and I’m sure next year will be even better and I’d like to thank absolutely everyone who has supported me.”

Niek Hommerson

nr2 Vita4One Ferrari 458 Italia

Blancpain Endurance Series GT3 Pro-Am Champion

"To be champion is fantastic of course. You start out at the start of the year and hope to get a good result and Louis and I were very happy to team up with Vita4One. We love the car, we love to race and we had a great year. We had the pace all year but in the first race we had a broken damper and then my drinking straw got caught in the master switch in the second race which lost us a lot of time, but we have had the pace all year and the team did a fantastic job."

Louis Machiels

nr2 Vita4One Ferrari 458 Italia

Blancpain Endurance Series GT3 Pro-Am Champion

"The Blancpain Endurance Series format of three hours is perfect and it is very competitive. I'm sure it will be even more competitive next year. We had a great season and we are champions, so I couldn't really ask for more than that."

Michael Bartels

nr2 Vita4One Ferrari 458 Italia

GT3 Pro-Am Team Champions

"This was a weekend of pleasure working with Niek (Hommerson) and Louis (Machiels). The car wasn't the most fantastic car this weekend, we made some changes but it was quite difficult today. I had to concentrate hard to control the gap as I knew we had to win the race to be sure. I had two exciting laps with Marc (Hayek), which was quite nice and fair. We were not so successful in the Pro Cup but we worked very hard and were successful in the Pro-Am category."

Georges Cabannes

Nr31 Ruffier Racing Lamborghini Gallardo

Blancpain Endurance Series GT3 Gentlemen Trophy Champion

“We’ve had a great season and I’d like to thank everyone. We started off well with a victory in Monza, carried on in Spain. In Magny Cours we had three drivers and again here at Silverstone, where we had a good result for our first time racing here. I’ve really enjoyed this season and I’m very pleased to win the championship. I’ve been a gentlemen driver for 15-years, this is my first title and the category really suits me. The Blancpain Endurance Series is very good for gentlemen drivers and we will be back in 2012.”

Sergio Negroni

nr36 De Lorenzi Racing Porsche 997

Blancpain Endurance Series GT3 Cup Champion

"Winning the GT3 Cup and finishing well in the Gentlemen Trophy Class here was our final goal. Apart from Monza we haven't raced at any of the other tracks before this year. I'd like to thank Marco (Cassera), Luigi (Emilliani), Giorgio (Piodi), Stefano (Crotti) and Roberto (Fecchio) for their hard work and this is the best result of my little racing career. I hope to back again next year."

Alex Buncombe

nr63 RJN Motorsport Nissan 370z GT4

Blancpain Endurance Series GT4 Cup Champion

"We had a problem at the start of the race, we had no power at all and I wasn't sure if it was going to be game over or not. The guys managed to fix it, it was a sensor problem, so we had full power and back up to speed. We did what we had to do today, it was a shame we couldn't push for the win but we knew we had to bring the car home. The Spa 24 Hours was the highlight of our season, we got double points for that, so that was good and it was the hardest race of the year. Big thanks to RJN and the guys, they did a fantastic job on the car all season."

Jordan Tresson

nr63 RJN Motorsport Nissan 370z GT4

Blancpain Endurance Series GT4 Cup Champion

"It has been very different than playing a PlayStation and it has been just amazing and I'd like to thank Nissan and Sony for giving me this opportunity. I learnt a lot last season with Alex (Buncombe) and also with help from Chris (Ward). It has been a great season and winning Spa was just amazing. It has been a tough battle all season long, we need to have more GT4 cars next season and it will be even better. I don't think winning the championship has sunk in yet, maybe tomorrow."

Chris Ward

nr63 RJN Motorsport Nissan 370z GT4

Blancpain Endurance Series GT4 Cup Champion

"All we only had to bring the car home and it was heart in the mouth stuff when we had the early pitstop with the problem, but the boys worked hard, fixed the problem and out we went again. From my point of view it went really well until half way through my stint and I lost my ABS, which made it a bit tricky when the wet weather came down. We battled through it, it dried up and came home on the podium

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.

Jeff Carter/Media Press Delegate

Photos: © VIMAGES/Fabre

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