The Marc VDS Racing Team begin their 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series campaign this weekend at the famous Monza circuit, in Italy. The Blancpain series is the main focus of the Marc VDS Racing Team's endeavours this season, and taking the title is their ultimate goal.
With that aim, the team will field two BMW Z4 GT3 cars in the Pro class with experienced drivers in both. Car #3 will see Bas Leinders, Maxime Martin and reigning series vice champion Markus Palttala reunited, while car #4 features an all-new crew - Mike Hezemans, Henri Moser and Bert Longin.
All six drivers are hugely experienced. Leinders, Martin and Palttala all drove for Marc VDS with the BMW Z4 GT3 in 2011, steering the team to second place in the team championship and two race victories in the last two events. Despite being new to the team, the crew of the #4 car all come from strong GT racing backgrounds and should fit straight into the set up.
The Autodromo Internazionale Monza is a tremendously fast circuit, with a mix of long straights and tight chicanes, interspersed with spectacular sweeping bends. Curva Grande is a long right-handed turn taken flat out, with the cars accelerating all the way through. The Parabolica is one of the most famous corners in the world, a long 180 degree turn that is vital for getting good speed onto the long front straight - where the cars will be touching 275 km/h.
The team are facing a big challenge in the Blancpain Endurance Series. Each race is three hours long, with pitstops for fuel, tyres and driver changes each hour. With over 50 cars entered for the first round, it will be a tough fight, but one that the Marc VDS Racing Team are more than ready for.
Bas Leinders: "We have seen have seen over the winter that many people are interested in the Blancpain Endurance Series. There are a lot of cars, and the opposition is top quality. There are better teams than last year, and better drivers - they were good last year, but this year the competition is even stronger! We have two cars, which is important for the team championship, to score as many points as possible. We are confident, but of course we're nervous to see how the first race shapes up - we want to start the season with good points.
Maxime Martin: "We're aiming to win the title - Bas and Markus are both strong drivers with a lot of experience, and we all know each other well. Although Monza might not be the strongest track for us as we have quite a small engine, the car is good. It will be more difficult than last year because the entry is bigger and has a lot of very good teams, but it's an exciting prospect. We just want to start the season strongly and go from there."
Bert Longin: "All the time I've had with the team so far, I'm really pleased - the atmosphere in the team is great. I believe we can start the season strongly, get some good points on the board and make a solid foundation for the championship. Monza is one of my favourite circuits, the atmosphere is fantastic - there's so much history here. It's a proper racetrack, and I love the quick corners, they're a great challenge. Last year I was second, and this year, with a great driver line up, a strong team and a three-hour race, I think we have a good chance. For five years I've been talking to the team, and now finally I have a chance to drive here! It was important to me that the team have a strong car, a dedicated team and a focus on the Blancpain Endurance Series. And of course, driving for a Belgian team is always nice!"