Marc VDS takes team crown; Ordonez and Nissan GT Academy RJN celebrate double title at the conclusion of the Blancpain 1000 season finale.
A frantic finale to the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series played out in thrilling style at the Nürburgring today with fresh champions in Pro Cup and Pro-Am being crowned. Maximilian Buhk (DEU) is the new Pro Cup title holder as he finished the season off in style with a maximum 33-point score to seal the drivers’ championship.
A tense finale to the race was set in the penultimate hour when the HTP Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 that Buhk shared with fellow TOTAL 24 HOURS OF SPA winners – Bernd Schneider (DEU) and Maximilian Götz (DEU) was forced in to a brake-pad change. That led to a fascinating final hour, as title challengers – the #3 Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 – driven at the time by Maxime Martin (BEL) took the lead, with the Belgian defending the prized lead valiantly.
The HTP run Mercedes SLS AMG had earlier stretched out a seemingly unbeatable margin; only for their concerns about the brakes ensured a change of pads, offering a glimmer of hope for a late Marc VDS Racing Team title double win. Despite several sensational wheel-to-wheel moments between Martin and Buhk, it was the German who won out with a brave overtaking manoeuvre with just 40 minutes of the race remaining.
For German racing legend, Bernd Schneider, it was a particularly memorable victory as he became the only driver in history to win both a 1000 kms billed GT race and the Nürburgring 24 Hours in the same season. Maximilian Götz again enhanced his growing reputation with faultless stints in the race to set a comfortable foundation for a famous victory.
Rounding out the podium was the ART Grand Prix-run McLaren MP4-12C driven by Andy Soucek (ESP), Antoine Leclerc (FRA) and Mike Parisy (FRA). Although they also started third on the grid, the team were satisfied with their performance, which ensured that they book-ended the 2013 with another podium appearance, after they started the campaign off with a 2nd position at Monza in April.
Other pre-race title protagonists that ended the season with difficult races included Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and Kessel Racing. The #13 Audi R8 LMS ultra driven by Frank Stippler (DEU), Christopher Mies (DEU) and René Rast (DEU) ran as high as 2nd for part of the six-hour endurance race but ultimately fell back after suffering with brake problems and an incident with the 3rd placed ART McLaren, to eventually be classified 16th in Pro Cup.
Kessel Racing had an eventful race at the Blancpain 1000 with several incidents throughout the event. After fighting back from a Free Practice accident on Saturday morning, the Swiss team served two penalties, the first of which was for unavoidable contact with the Hexis Racing McLaren.
It was a day of celebration for the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN as they toasted Lucas Ordonez (ESP) as he became the 2013 Pro-Am driver’s champion. As well as this honour the British based team also took home the Pro-Am team silverware. It was achieved the hard way as several incidents for both their #32 and #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 entries ensured team boss Bob Neville was busy calculating the points during the last hour of the event. It was a richly deserved success for the team after showing consistency and pace throughout 2013.
Ordonez and the Nissan GT Academy saw their closest rivals retire early from the race with reigning champions – Niek Hommerson (NDL), Louis Machiels (BEL) being ruled out of the action when their team mate, Fabio Babini (ITA), caused a safety-car deploying accident. TDS Racing also retired with accident damage to end Henry Hassid (FRA) and Ludovic Badey’s dreams of capturing the Pro-Am title.
Winning the Pro-Am category was Kirill Ladygin (RUS), his younger brother – Anton Ladygin (RUS) and Victor Shaitar (RUS). The all-Russian driving squad converted their pole position to enjoy a comfortable final two hours and seal the win in their Ferrari 458 Italia.
Scoring their best result of the season was the ROAL Motorsport entered BMW Z4 driven by Michela Cerruti (ITA) and Stefano Comandini (ITA). The Roberto Ravaglia-run team held off the Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Klaas Hummel (NDL) and Steve Jans (LUX) who claimed the final podium position at their home track.
In the Gentlemen Trophy class the points and champagne went to the Sport Garage/Eric Cayrolle team. Cayrolle (FRA) himself was partnered by Bruce Lorgere Roux (FRA) and Venezualan racer – Justino Azcarate in the #52 Ferrari 458 Italia. All three drivers drove a faultless race and came home two laps ahead of the Boutsen-Ginion pairing of Karim Ojjeh (SAU) and Marlène Broggi (FRA) who secured their best result of the season. Completing the Gentlemen Trophy podium was the new GT Corse entrant of Pierre Ehret (FRA), Alexander Mattschull (DEU) and Christian Kohlaas (DEU) in a Ferrari 458 Italia.
Final Pro Cup Drivers Points
1. Maximilian Buhk 81pts
2. Bernd Schneider/Maximilian Götz 71pts
3. Bas Leinders/Maxime Martin/Yelmar Buurman 71pts
Final Pro-Am Cup Drivers Points
1. Lucas Ordonez 65pts
2. Kiril Ladygin/Victor Shaiter 63pts
3. Peter Pyzera 61pts
Final Gentlemen Trophy Drivers Points
1. Patrice Goueslard/Jean-Luc Blanchemain/Jean-Luc Beaubelique 111pts
2. Leonardo Gorini 66pts
3. Beniamino Caccia 56pts
Final Pro Cup Team Points
1. Marc VDS Racing Team 99pts
2. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 60pts
3. Kessel Racing 54pts
Final Pro-Am Team Points
1.Nissan GT Academy Team RJN 86pts
2. AF Corse 79pts
3. SMP Racing 69pts
Final Gentlemen Trophy Teams Points
2.Sport Garage 107pts
3.Kessel Racing 66pts
Stephane Ratel, CEO and Founder of SRO Motorsport Group “The dramatic conclusion to what has been an excellent 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series. The Blancpain 1000 at Nürburgring today saw some incredible GT3 supercar action throughout the field. The usual depth of variety in brands, drivers, teams and nationalities is unique in motorsport and it is wonderful to see new champion teams and drivers crowned. The anticipation is already building for an even more spectacular edition in 2014.”
Maximilian Buhk #84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 (Pro) – 2013 Pro Cup Driver Champion “It is just amazing. We did great job in Spa, so it helped us a lot in the championship table and we came here with the aim to do well again. And today’s race was perfect. Actually, when I came out of the pits at the end of the race, I was a bit angry to see that Maxime Martin was in front of me because I did not expect that. I was really fighting hard to follow him because he was quick and then I managed to pass him and it was easier for me to keep the lead. But I am thrilled with the result and really happy to be the Champion.”
Bas Leinders, #3 Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 (Pro) – 2013 Pro Cup Team Champion “We knew that 2013 would be more difficult for us than last year, and we also knew that race wins and championships would be harder too, but before coming here we were in position to win both the titles. So, it was great that we had to fight to the “last minute” for these two championships. Congratulations to Maximilian Buhk and HTP Motorsport, who did an excellent job. I would like to say thank you to Marc Van den Straten (team owner) who could not be here today but who is overjoyed by the result. Thank you to all the members of Marc VDS Racing team, without who, we would not be champions today.”
Maxime Martin, #3 Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 (Pro) – 2013 Pro Cup Team Champion “The battle with Maximilian was very good, I fought hard to stay in front but I knew that when we reached the traffic it would be hard to keep the position and it was! Max’s move was good and fair and it was nice to fight in a safe way. I think that this is a very good result for the team. Last year, we fought for both championships too but we just lost the title so at least this year we won one, which is very good for the team. They did a great job during the season and during this race.”
Andy Soucek, #11 ART Grand Prix McLaren MP4-12C (Pro Cup) “I must say that the top two teams and drivers were on different planets today. At some stage I asked my engineer if they were close and he answered: “Don’t even think about trying to catch them because they are too far away and too quick”. They were really too good for us. But in total it was a good race because we started third and we finished third but actually at some stage we were P6 so it was not easy at all. So, big thanks to everybody who helped us to get here. “
Victor Shaitar, #71 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia (Pro Am) “I feel good about this race and about the year, which we can consider as our first season because last year we did not do well. But racing with the Ferrari this year was good and being among a lot of talented drivers and teams has been a great experience for me.”
Lucas Ordonez, #35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN (Pro Am) – 2013 Pro-Am Driver Champion “It has been a really tough race for us but finally we did it. We are really proud. We struggled a bit with the set-ups of the car during the weekend but it was a six-hour race, so just like in Spa, you have to be patient and wait to find the way to go. I am thrilled to win the championship for Nissan, for GT Academy and the RJN Team. Alex Buncombe has been a really tough team competitor, he was unfortunate today and deserved this (title) too.”
Justino Azcarate, #52 Sport Garage Ferrari 458 Italia (Gentlemen Trophy) “I really want to thank Sport Garage, my teammates and my government (of Venezuala), for their support during the season. I must say that the team was absolutely perfect this weekend, and it was amazing. Eric (Cayrolle) did a great job this weekend, Bruce (Lorgere Roux) was very good and we all did our job properly. We managed to do only four stops and did not do any mistakes. I thank everybody who helped us win today.”
Jérôme Policand, #10 & #20 Team Manager SOFREV-ASP (Gentlemen Trophy) – 2013 Gentlemen Trophy Team Champion “This year was a big challenge with a Gentleman line-up in the team. There were very strong cars on the track and when you are gentlemen driver you just try to keep going and finish the race. Today we lost two cars (that retired), which is a shame, but at the end we are happy because we are Teams and Drivers champions. It is a good finish for us. I really want to thank all my drivers, Jean-Luc Beaubelique, Jean-Luc Blanchemain, and Patrice Goueslard. It is a great story and a great feeling at the end.”
SRO Blancpain Endurance Series