A massive grid of 62 GT3 supercars hit the Paul Ricard track for the first time today in preparation for the third round of the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series. In sunny and hot conditions the Blancpain Endurance Series began its third round with the expected close competition between Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes, Nissan and Porsche.
‘RACING FOR ALLAN’ THIS WEEKEND
SRO Motorsports Group has issued special tribute stickers to all teams competing this weekend to remember Allan Simonsen who died at Le Mans last weekend. The Dane competed in many SRO organised events over the years and was a successsful and popular member of the motorsport family. Every team is proud to commemorate Allan in this way and to express their condolensces to Allan’s family and many friends.
BRONZE TEST – GO GRASSER !
The Grasser Racing Team continued their recent form in the first session of the weekend with team owner Gottfried Grasser himself setting a best time of 2m08.978s at Paul Ricard this morning in his Lamborghini LP600. The Austrian, along with team mates and fellow Austrians, Hari Proczyk and Gerhard Tweresar finished a fine 4th in the PRO-AM class at Silverstone and is determined to at least be on the podium come Sunday evening.
Gabriel Balthazard was the best Gentlemen Trophy class driver in the SOFREV/ASP Ferrari 458 Italia, setting a best lap of 2m10.810s.
Former French International goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez , will make his first start of the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series season, also in a SOFREV ASP Ferrari 458 Italia tomorrow. The 1998 World Cup winner set the 11th best Gentlemen Trophy class time in the Bronze Test session this morning.
FREE PRACTICE – LAMBORGHINI LOCK-OUT !
It was a Lamborghini lock-out in both the PRO and PRO-AM class during the 90-minute Free Practice session at lunchtime. Peter Kox (NDL) took the Lamborghini LP600 FLII he shares with President and CEO of Blancpain, Marc A.Hayek (CHE) to the top of the time sheets with a 2m07.363s lap. The Dutchman hooked up the spectacular Blancpain Racing Lamborghini and found a clear lap to head the similar Italian supercar of Blancpain Racing’s PRO class entry. A time of 2m07.822s was set by Slovakian driver Stefan Rosina, who was delighted with his and the teams’ start to the weekend in what is their first appearance so far this season. He shares the #125 Lamborghini with Albert Von Thurn Und Taxis (GER) and Jos Menten (NDL).
Claiming the best time in the Gentlemen’s Trophy was the #51 AF Corse entry on a 2m09.932s lap. Filipe Barreiros (PRT) is sharing the Ferrari 458 Italia with Peter Mann (GBR) and Francisco Guedes (PRT) and it was Guedes who made the best use of his Pirelli tyres and set the best time.
PRE-QUALIFYING – CLOSE AT THE FRONT !
The final session of the day took place in the mid-afternoon with temperatures approaching 28 degrees celsius and the pace was also hot on the track as Maxime Martin (BEL) in the Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 set the fastest time of the day with a best lap of 2m06.730s. Martin, who races with Bas Leinders (BEL) and Yelmer Buurman (NDL) beat the Hexis Racing McLaren MP-12C by just 0.078s.
At the top of the PRO-Am class was the #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 run by Nissan GT Academy Team RJN. Lucas Ordonez (ESP) set the fastest time of 2m06.918s and also claimed 3rd fastest in the overall results of the session. The original GT Academy graduate shares with team mates Wolfgang Reip (BEL) and Peter Pyzera (GER).
Once again clear laps were at a premium with 62 GT3 cars on track, however the fastest time of the day in the ever-expanding Gentlemen Trophy category was set by the #10 SOFREV/ASP Ferrari 458 Italia, driven by Jerome Policand (FRA). He and his partners in the car, Gabriel Balthazard (FRA) and Maurice Ricci (FRA) now go in to their home race tomorrow in a very confident frame of mind to collect more points for their title charge.
ALL EYES ON CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD ON SUNDAY
The action kicks-off at Circuit Paul Ricard tomorrow morning with Qualifying taking place at 10.25cet. The three-hour race itself starts at 15.00cet.
Blancpain Endurance Series