Le Castellet, France - The Marc VDS Racing Team took a hard earned victory at the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, at Paul Ricard in France. The #3 BMW Z4 GT3, with Yelmer Buurman, Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin, crossed the line comfortably clear after three hours' racing.
Coming into this round of the series, the team had suffered a number of setbacks and was yet to score a podium finish. That record was put straight in style with a trademark last stint charge from Belgian Maxime Martin, who closed down 12 seconds on the leading cars to take the victory.
In qualifying, strong pace put both cars in the top ten, with Martin placing #3 on the pole position and #4, with stand-in driver Piccini, went ninth. Buurman broke away at the start, but was unfortunate to lose the lead with difficulties in traffic and would end the stint second. It was a similar story for Leinders, who was baulked and dropped to third.
Quick pitwork kept the #3 in touch and, despite being held up badly by a slow driver who had not yet made a pitstop, Martin was able to chase down and pass both cars ahead to take the victory.
It was a difficult afternoon for the #4 car. Starting well, Moser soon found himself behind the car that had started second on the grid. After being aggressively blocked on more than one occasion, Moser went for an opportunity but found the door slammed shut and contact was made. He limped to the pits to repair a puncture, and was also handed a drive through penalty for the incident.
The result was hard to take, as the car showed podium pace. For long periods in the middle stint, Palttala found himself as the fastest man on the circuit and though all three drivers made places, it wasn't enough and they finished 16th in class.
Henri Moser, #4 BMW Z4 GT3: "The problem was not so much down to the drive through but the contact with the Mercedes early on. I'm quite upset, because I don't understand why the gentleman driver starts the race, even if he wants to - it's dangerous. He tried to push me off the track once or twice.
It was an edgy move from me, but I was on the inside and it was only a matter of time before I passed him. I'm really disappointed for my team and co drivers because it was really avoidable. I made a big mistake. It's annoying to have podium pace but not be on the podium."
Maxime Martin, #3 BMW Z4 GT3: "The beginning of my stint was a bit difficult as I was completely blocked behind a McLaren, so I had to wait and when I managed to pass I was 12 seconds behind the leaders. I pushed hard and in the end I came back, I had a bit of luck in the traffic too. Eventually I managed to pass them for the win. It's great to win here before Spa, and be back in the championship fight."
Marc van der Straten: "I'm really proud of the work the team has done since the start of the season. We were unlucky in the first two races and the team continued to believe which is always good to see. I'm really proud of all the team's hard work and this is the perfect preparation for our biggest race of the season in Spa."
Marc VDS Racing Team