Sunday 14 October 2012

McLaren pair lead the pack in Pre-Qualifying at final round of 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series

McLaren pair lead the pack in Pre-Qualifying at final round of 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series

It was a McLaren front row as the Pre-Qualifying session of the final round of the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series came to an end. The No.7 Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C driven by Fred Makowiecki (FRA) thundered round Circuito de Navarra posting a 1.37.619, the only car to break into the 1.37’s.

Their session was not trouble free; despite the pleasing result it didn’t start on a high. A red flag was waved as the McLaren spun to a halt on turn 13 blocking the track. Traction control issues contributed to the incident.

Speaking of the team’s fruitful day, Makowiecki said: “The car is really good on this track; we’ve already proved this a few months ago during the FIA GT1 championship race.  The team worked really hard to find some solutions as we had some issues after the first free practice. Now we’ve found a good compromise for all drivers to be really competitive.”

Following the Hexis Racing McLaren closely, and leading the PRO-AM class by two tenths, was another McLaren the Gulf Racing No.9 car of British duo Michael Wainwright and Rob Bell, posting a 1.38.249s lap. The pair also dominated the PRO-AM class in Free Practice a few hours earlier in the day, finishing 5 places ahead of their nearest rival.

Bell was on fine form at the technical Spanish track and is confident ahead of tomorrow’s race after simulating new tyre runs for qualifying tomorrow lunchtime; “We had a new set of tyres each, just to get set for qualifying. We wanted to get an idea how it feels like when we’re out there tomorrow. After all, qualifying matters quite a lot towards the final outcome. We’re prepared now; we know what the grip level is going to be like. And hopefully tomorrow this will pay off for the Gulf team.”

In the PRO Class, the No.1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 of Christopher Mies (DEU), Christopher Haase (DEU) and Stéphane Ortelli (MCO) sneaked through second fastest posting a time of 1:38.256, claiming third overall as they strive to challenge the #3 Marc VDS BMW in the title race. Marc VDS had a tough day and wherever the #3 BMW Z4 of Bas Leinders (BEL), Maxime Martin (BEL) and Markus Palttala (BEL) qualify tomorrow the highly polished Belgian team will have to take a 10-grid penalty for an incident in the last round in Germany.

Frank Kechele in the No.66 Vita4one Racing Team BMW safeguarded a respectable third, posting a time of 1:38.431. A time the team were thankful for following a disappointing eighth in class in Free Practice hours before.

Second fastest in the PRO-AM class was the No.50 AF Corse Ferrari of Jack Gerber (ZAF) and Marco Cioci (ITA) setting a fastest time of 1:38.519. Third was Niek Hommerson (NLD), Louis Machiels (BEL) and Alessandro Pier Guidi (ITA) in another AF Corse Ferrari, the No.52 car.

AF Corse driver Marco Cioci (ITA) was delighted with his day’s work in the Ferrari 458 and will do his best to help his team mates, Niek Hommerson (NLD) and Louis Machiels (BEL) in their quest for the Pro-Am title: “We are a team, we are all working together, my team mates are fighting for the championship, we will give everything to get a good result for AF Corse tomorrow.”

The Gentlemen Racer class saw the Swedish JB Motorsport trio of Jan Brunstedt, Mikael Bender and Daniel Roos come up fastest cementing a solid time of 1:41.951. Their time was almost half a second faster than the closest contender, the No.41 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 of Robert Hissom, Pierre Hirschi and Philippe Giauque who posted a 1:42.490.

Third in the Gentlemen Racer class was the No.58 Exagon Engineering/Royal Ecuries Ardennes Porsche driven by Daniel Desbrueres (FRA) and Christian Kelders (BEL) who completed the session with a fastest lap of 1:43.335.

About Blancpain: Over 275 years of tradition in motion

Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing is name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged in a long-term commitment to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research.

From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past seven years, the Manufacture in Le Brassus has indeed developed no less than 22 new calibres.

Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the daring L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection and the Blancpain Women models.

The sports enthusiasts’ watch: Chronographe Flyback à Rattrapante Grande Date
While remaining loyal to its fundamental values, Blancpain quite naturally associates with the world of fine automotive mechanical engineering, since the key values of precision, reliability and sturdiness are required and shared by both cars and watches.

The bezel, caseback, dial and even the cap of the folding clasp are all made of carbon fibre and represent technical accomplishments vividly reflecting Blancpain’s innovative strength. To highlight the sporting nature of the new L-evolutionR, a digital font displays the large date as well as the 3 and 9 o’clock numerals, while the shape of the pushpiece at 8 o’clock resembles a fuel tank cap.

When the chronograph is in action, the movement with its column wheel and vertical coupling-clutch ensures excellent precision. Two major horological complications offer additionally useful functions: the split-second chronograph enables a split-time read-off, while the flyback function serves to instantly reset and restart the chronograph. The black alcanatara strap is equipped with carbon fibre inserts evoking the latest technological evolutions in racing car design.

How to follow the Blancpain Endurance Series:


Live streaming of each race will also be shown on the official web site

Watch the 2012 season preview on the Blancpain Endurance Series Youtube channel.

Read David Addison’s blog Moonlighting at


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.

Motors TV will carry live coverage to viewers in over 20 countries across Europe.

Sam Smith

Head of Communications
SRO Motorsports Group

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