Friday 14 September 2012

Blancpain Endurance Series welcomes the return of Valentino Rossi for Nürburgring

Blancpain Endurance Series welcomes the return of Valentino Rossi for Nürburgring

The Blancpain Endurance Series returns from the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps to the equally-challenging Nürburgring for the fifth round of the 2012 season.
The entry list totals 50 cars and the driver line-up includes “El Dottore”, the nine-time world motorcycle champion Valentino Rossi making his second appearance in the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Rossi will share a Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia which will sport the famous No.46.
There is class warfare on several fronts in the 2012 series. In PRO-AM, the championship combat is particularly intense.
Leading the drivers’ standings is the AF Corse Ferrari pair of Niek Hommerson (NLD) and Louis Machiels (BEL) on 99 points.
The AF Corse pair are being hard-pressed by the Italian trio Eugenio Amos, Giacomo Petrobelli, Alessandro Bonacini, just three points behind in the Vita4One Italy Ferrari.
In the teams’ classification, AF Corse (82) leads SOFREV ASP (68) with Vita4One Team Italy third on 67.
SOFREV ASP team boss Jerome Policand knows perfectly the German track. “To be quick in Nurburgring you need a good turn-in as most of the corners are low-mid speed range. But the real challenging corner is the fast chicane after the hairpin. You need commitment to make the gap.
“Our aim with the No.20 car of Ludovic Badey, Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Patrice Goueslard is to finish on the podium. As a driver I will share the 458 Ferrari with Gabriel Balthazard and Maurice Ricci. The team is currently second in the standings so we still have a chance to win.”
Meanwhile, Matteo Bobbi, Vita4One Team Italy, team principal, is intent on taking the PRO-AM championship contest to the wire. "We are in the title fight. We will face the last two races of the season with the greatest determination to be crowned champions in PRO-AM,” he said.
Marc A. Hayek, President & CEO of Blancpain, in the Blancpain Reiter Lamborghini LP600+ alongside Dutchman Peter Kox, is relishing the return to racing after an eventful Total 24 Hours of Spa where they finished a heroic sixth in PRO-AM.
“After the 24 hours of Spa and our excellent result, I am looking forward to returning behind the wheel. My feeling with the car was great during this last race and I trust to feel the same sensations or even better during this next round in Nürburgring. This race track is mythical and I always enjoyed driving here. “he said.
In the PRO CUP class, Marc VDS Racing (99 points) hold a two-point lead over Belgian Audi Club Team WRT.
The Marc VDS BMW No.3 of Belgians Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin and Finland’s Markus Palttala were imperious in the wet in winning the opening two races of the season at Monza and Silverstone. The trio lead the drivers’ standings with 99 points.
However, Stephane Ortelli (MON), with German pair Christopher Haase and Christopher Mies, halted the BMW’s charge at Paul Ricard with a win and finished a strong second at Spa and have closed to within 15 points of their fellow-Belgian outfit.
Ortelli believes the Audi R8 LMS ultra will be suited to the Nürburgring. “It’s a track with very low grip, it is also a circuit where gaps are generally extremely narrow, and finally, the weather, always unpredictable and changing,” he said. “The championship battle is very open.”
Also likely to challenge strongly for victory in Germany is the Phoenix Racing Audi of Luca Ludwig (DEU), Harold Primat (FRA) and the Spa 24 Hours winner Rene Rast (DEU).
The Boutsen-Ginion Racing team will field an extra McLaren MP4-12C in PRO CUP for Nurburgring with Scotland’s Marino Franchitti and Japan’s Seiji Ara joining the team’s regular drivers Nico Verdonck, Jerome Thiry and Edouard Mondron.
Franchitti, who returns to a GT car, having competed at Le Mans in the Nissan Delta Wing car, said: “The Blancpain Endurance Series is so competitive. I’m looking forward to working with Nico and especially Seiji. Any time you get to drive with a Le Mans 24 Hour winner is a real treat.
The championship battle in the Gentlemen Trophy class is tight with four different winners so far this season.
Sainteloc Racing’s Pierre Hirschi (CHE) is tied with American Robert Hissom on 76 points at the head of the table with the Swedes Jocke Mangs, Jan Brunstedt and Mikael Bender, winners at Silverstone in the JB Motorsport Audi, second on 62.
Sainteloc and JB Motorsport are separated by six points in the teams’ classification.
It will be a feast of GT action at Nürburgring with the event schedule also featuring the FIA GT1 World Championship and the championship decider in the FIA GT3 European Championship.
The track action will include the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo with two 50-minute races during the weekend.
The prestigious line-up of brands includes Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes and Porsche – with teams and drivers representing more than 20 nations.                           
Blancpain, Swiss watch manufacturer, is the title sponsor and official timekeeper with commercial and technical support for the series comes in the shape of Michelin as the official tyre supplier and Audi as the official car supplier. Hexis, a long-time supporter of the SRO Motorsports Group, is an official partner.

About Blancpain: a tradition of innovation for over 275 years
In 1735, the pioneer Jehan-Jacques Blancpain created an establishment that is now the world’s oldest watch brand. Blancpain is committed to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking, guaranteeing the transmission of craftsmanship expertise from one generation to the next through continuous investment in human resources as well as in production facilities. This approach is our strength and the expression of our long-term vision.
In tune with this spirit, each Blancpain watch embodies values firmly rooted in our historical heritage making reference to the past as much as to the future, to tradition as much as to innovation. Innovative technological breakthroughs, stemming from the thorough knowledge of our origins and the strength of our roots, and traditional designs are thus combined over the years to give rise to timepieces epitomising the very pinnacle of the watchmaking art.
While remaining unswervingly loyal to its values, Blancpain associates with partners that share its passion for excellence. In the field of motorsports, the Manufacture is proud of its partnerships that represent far more than mere co-branding. Precision, reliability and creativity are key values shared on the races both with the car and the last watch L-evolution R.

How to follow the Blancpain Endurance Series:
Live streaming of each race will also be shown on the official web site
The series will feature in live broadcast across 22 channels globally with a number of other key broadcasters showing extended highlights in territories such as Europe, Australia, North America and Latin America.
Bloomberg Television will also broadcast highlights worldwide (Americas, Pan Euro, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific). That all adds up to a global audience reach of over 350 million homes.

Cameron Kelleher/Media Delegate.

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