McLaren teams on top in BES action on Saturday at Navarra

McLaren pair lead the pack in Pre-Qualifying at final round of 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series

It was a McLaren front row as the Pre-Qualifying session of the final round of the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series came to an end. The No.7 Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C driven by Fred Makowiecki (FRA) thundered round Circuito de Navarra posting a 1.37.619, the only car to break into the 1.37’s.

The car is really good on this track.

Fred Makowiecki

Their session was not trouble free; despite the pleasing result it didn’t start on a high. A red flag was waved as the McLaren spun to a halt on turn 13 blocking the track. Traction control issues contributed to the incident.

Speaking of the team’s fruitful day, Makowiecki said: “The car is really good on this track; we’ve already proved this a few months ago during the FIA GT1 championship race. The team worked really hard to find some solutions as we had some issues after the first free practice. Now we’ve found a good compromise for all drivers to be really competitive.”

Following the Hexis Racing McLaren closely, and leading the PRO-AM class by two tenths, was another McLaren the Gulf Racing No.9 car of British duo Michael Wainwright and Rob Bell, posting a 1.38.249s lap. The pair also dominated the PRO-AM class in Free Practice a few hours earlier in the day, finishing 5 places ahead of their nearest rival.

Bell was on fine form at the technical Spanish track and is confident ahead of tomorrow’s race after simulating new tyre runs for qualifying tomorrow lunchtime; “We had a new set of tyres each, just to get set for qualifying. We wanted to get an idea how it feels like when we’re out there tomorrow. After all, qualifying matters quite a lot towards the final outcome. We’re prepared now; we know what the grip level is going to be like. And hopefully tomorrow this will pay off for the Gulf team.”

In the PRO Class, the No.1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 of Christopher Mies (DEU), Christopher Haase (DEU) and Stéphane Ortelli (MCO) sneaked through second fastest posting a time of 1:38.256, claiming third overall as they strive to challenge the #3 Marc VDS BMW in the title race. Marc VDS had a tough day and wherever the #3 BMW Z4 of Bas Leinders (BEL), Maxime Martin (BEL) and Markus Palttala (BEL) qualify tomorrow the highly polished Belgian team will have to take a 10-grid penalty for an incident in the last round in Germany.

Frank Kechele in the No.66 Vita4one Racing Team BMW safeguarded a respectable third, posting a time of 1:38.431. A time the team were thankful for following a disappointing eighth in class in Free Practice hours before.

Second fastest in the PRO-AM class was the No.50 AF Corse Ferrari of Jack Gerber (ZAF) and Marco Cioci (ITA) setting a fastest time of 1:38.519. Third was Niek Hommerson (NLD), Louis Machiels (BEL) and Alessandro Pier Guidi (ITA) in another AF Corse Ferrari, the No.52 car.

#50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia
#50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia

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AF Corse driver Marco Cioci (ITA) was delighted with his day’s work in the Ferrari 458 and will do his best to help his team mates, Niek Hommerson (NLD) and Louis Machiels (BEL) in their quest for the Pro-Am title: “We are a team, we are all working together, my team mates are fighting for the championship, we will give everything to get a good result for AF Corse tomorrow.”

The Gentlemen Racer class saw the Swedish JB Motorsport trio of Jan Brunstedt, Mikael Bender and Daniel Roos come up fastest cementing a solid time of 1:41.951. Their time was almost half a second faster than the closest contender, the No.41 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 of Robert Hissom, Pierre Hirschi and Philippe Giauque who posted a 1:42.490.

Third in the Gentlemen Racer class was the No.58 Exagon Engineering/Royal Ecuries Ardennes Porsche driven by Daniel Desbrueres (FRA) and Christian Kelders (BEL) who completed the session with a fastest lap of 1:43.335.

Source: Blancpain Endurance Series

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About this article
Series Blancpain Endurance
Drivers Stéphane Ortelli , Rob Bell , Marco Cioci , Bas Leinders , Markus Palttala , Maxime Martin , Christian Kelders , Alessandro Pier Guidi , Robert Hissom , Daniel Desbrueres , Christopher Mies , Christopher Haase , Niek Hommerson , Louis Machiels , Michael Wainwright , Pierre Hirschi , Jack Gerber , Jan Brunstedt , Mikael Bender , Daniel Roos , Philippe Giauque , Frank Kechele
Teams AF Corse , Audi Sport Team WRT , Marc VDS Racing
Article type Practice report
Tags bell, blancpain, endurance, makowiecki, mclaren, navarra, wainwright