Belgian Audi Club Team WRT clinched both the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series drivers’ and teams’ titles at Navarra in a dramatic and incident-filled afternoon, as the usual Spanish sunshine turned to a torrential downpour.
An emotional Stephane Ortelli explained his feelings: “I’m so happy for the team. I was already happy when we were running in second place. I think both Christophers have done a great job today. I didn’t do that much, but they both drove great stints. They had the chance to pass some cars, before the safety car was deployed.”
Ortelli thanked team owner Vincent Vosse: “Every point counts in this championship. Vincent told me at Monza, ‘If you continue like this we can win the championship at the end of the season.’”
Their closest rivals in the No.3 Marc VDS Racing Team BMW, Bas Leinders (BEL), Markus Palttala (FIN) and Maxime Martin (BEL) finished second in the championship with 111 points. The BMW took fourth in the race, behind the second Team WRT Audi of Filipe Albuquerque (PRT), Frank Stippler (DEU) and Oliver Jarvis (GBR).
- Belgian Audi Club Team WRT take title double
- AF Corse seal PRO-AM honours
- Gentlemen Trophy championship to Sainteloc Racing
In the PRO Cup Teams’ Championship, Belgian Audi Club Team WRT finished with a total of 125 points, after winning at Paul Ricard. Marc VDS was close behind with 119 points with wins at Monza and Silverstone plus strong consistency throughout the season. In third place was the Belgian Prospeed Competition team with 78 points.
Hexis Racing scored a superb win in mixed conditions at Circuito Navarra today with its McLaren MP14-12C in its first Blancpain Endurance Series race this year. The French-based team of Alvaro Parente (PRT), Stef Dusseldorp (NDL) and Fred Makiowecki (FRA) converted their pole position into victory to score their third win at the Spanish venue in 2012. The team took two wins earlier this season at the Spanish track in the FIA GT1 World Championship.
Alvaro Parente set the team up well with the opening stint. “The start went well. I then defended my position nicely into the first corner. Then we had a little bit of rain, which slowed us down for three laps but then it was back to normal. The track is really good for our McLaren which helped, and combined to our great pit stops, I think was a good combination.”
In the PRO-AM class Niek Hommerson (NLD) and Louis Machiels (BEL) won the drivers’ championship with a total of 76 points. The duo was teamed with Alessandro PierGuidi for the final round, and had a three-point lead from the Italian combination of Eugenio Amos, Alessandro Bonacini and Giacomo Petrobelli in the No.57 Vita4one Team Italy Ferrari. Their race ended disappointingly with retirement due to suspension damage.
The PRO-AM team fight also had a narrow points margin with the AF Corse Ferrari team winning by a slim four points. Second, also running a brace of Ferraris was SOFREV ASP with 90 points. Third, with 67 points was the disappointed Italian Vita4one team.
In today’s race the ART Grand Prix McLaren MP4-12C of Grégoire Demoustier (FRA) and Duncan Tappy (GBR) was victorious in the PRO-AM class, with an impressive win despite a spin in the wet conditions. Tappy’s spectacular stint, including several inspired overtaking manoeuvres, helped their route to victory. “It was a really entertaining race for me. I couldn’t relax!” Tappy said. “I had Audis coming from all sorts of directions. I actually had contact in one of the corners, which we were both lucky to escape from. Once I got them out of the way I managed to do a great overtaking manoeuvre on the Boutsen-Ginion Racing McLaren. Then it started to rain,” he concluded.
Following today’s dramatic race, the Gentlemen Trophy class produced an interesting finalé to the teams’ championship. The French Sainteloc Racing Team only had to finish the race to win the championship with its Audi R8. With less than an hour to go, in treacherous conditions, Philippe Giauque spun and hit the No.9 Gulf Racing UK McLaren damaging the front section of the car. With minutes to go, the Sainteloc team repaired the car and finished champions.
The Gentlemen Trophy drivers’ championship title also went to the Sainteloc Racing drivers Robert Hissom (USA) and Pierre Hirschi (CHE), who after their second-in-class finish at Navarra gave them a total of 94 points.
Hissom expressed his championship winning thoughts: “This is the first championship I’ve ever won and it feels amazing. I have to thank the drivers, thank Sainteloc and the other teams, the competition in this series was simply fantastic.”
As the champions were announced and the Blancpain Endurance Series drew to a close, Stephane Ratel, Founder and CEO of SRO Motorsports Group, expressed his thanks to the teams and congratulated the winners. “This has been a great season in the Blancpain Endurance Series. We have had different brands, teams and drivers scoring wins in all over the classes through the events. I would like to congratulate the three champion teams today: Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, AF Corse and Sainteloc Racing on their successes.”