Multiple tittle fight for Blancpain Endurance Series at Navarra

Story Highlights

  • Six titles up for grabs as series reaches exciting climax
  • Huge entry for Navarra finale
  • The world’s most iconic automotive brands represented

The 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series heads to the Circuito Navarra in northern Spain next weekend for an exciting climax to see who is crowned this year’s champions in each of the series three highly competitive classes.

Every second is important and Blancpain, Swiss watchmaker, is proud to be the official timekeeper.

A title showdown in the GT Pro-Cup class between the Belgium Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS trio of Stéphane Ortelli (MCO), Christopher Haase (DEU), Christopher Mies (DEU) and the Marc VDS Racing Team BMW drivers of Bas Leinders (BEL), Maxime Martin (BEL) and Markus Palttala (FIN), sees just three points between them as they go head to head for championship glory on Sunday 14th October.

In the Pro-Am Cup class there is no fewer than three Ferrari 458s gunning to be crowned 2012 champions.

#32 Team Audi France  Audi R8 LMS Ultra: David Hallyday; Stéphane Ortelli
#32 Team Audi France Audi R8 LMS Ultra: David Hallyday; Stéphane Ortelli

Photo by: Philippe Hubert

The AF Corse team of Louis Machiels (BEL) and Niek Hommerson (NED) have a slender three point advantage over the Vita4one Team Italy squad of Eugenio Amos (ITA), Giacomo Petrobelli (ITA) and Alessandro Bonacini (ITA).

However, coming up on the rails after a strong 4th in class at the Nurburgring two weeks ago is the all-French SOFREV ASP trio of Jean-Luc Beaubelique, Ludovic Badey and Patrice Goueslard.

Anticipating the tension and excitement going to Navarra is Stéphane Ratel, Founder and CEO of SRO Motorsports Group, who said: “The final weekend of the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series is all set to be a thrilling climax to a terrific season of close action throughout the classes.

It is a testament to the series as a whole that we will probably not know the various title winners until the very closing stages of the race next Sunday.”

Keeping with the remarkable entry lists that have been seen in the Blancpain Endurance Series throughout 2012, the finale sees close to 50 cars on the provisional entry list with Audi, Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Jaguar represented.

GT3 Pro-Cup

The Marc VDS Racing team of Leinders, Martin and Palttala were denied a healthier points lead at Nurburgring when their race ended in the barriers after an incident with the Sainteloc Audi R8 LMS driven by Dino Lunardi (FRA).

Looking ahead to the action at Navarra, current PRO-Cup leader Bas Leinders is keen for his squad to win the race and wrap up the title they have led since the first round at Monza in April.

“It’s sometimes easier to be the underdog and not have the pressure on you so much,” said the Belgian. “We have been leading the series since the very first race so in that sense it is not so easy for us perhaps. We should manage to control this and find our own destiny.”

Chasing down the Marc VDS BMW Z4 will be the WRT Audi R8 LMS which took victory at Paul Ricard in July and is looking to defend its hard won title of 2011.

Stephane Ortelli is a man who knows how to win championships and is relishing the prospect of fighting for more silverware in Spain next weekend: “We have to finish in front of the Marc VDS BMW which I think is the strongest car in the championship so it will be tough,” said Ortelli.

“Everyone at WRT is pushing hard and I think it will be a big battle between not just our car and the #3 car but also our team mates and the No. 4 Marc VDS BMW. For sure it is going to be one of the biggest battles of Belgium ever!”

The No.3 Marc VDS BMW’s title quest was made slightly more difficult after a 10-place grid penalty was given to it after an incident with their title rivals teams mate Laurens Vanthoor during qualifying at Nurburgring.

The team mates of the series title rivals could indeed come in to play at Navarra. Tactics may decide the outcome of the Pro-Cup spoils in the shape of the other Marc VDS and WRT entries.

The Boutsen Ginion Racing McLaren will likely to be among the challengers at the front of the Pro-Cup class with a stellar driver line up.

The very rapid Nico Verdonck (BEL) is joined by 2009 Formula 2 Champion, Andy Soucek. Another McLaren MP4/12C is added to the entry list for Navarra by Hexis Racing.

GT3 Pro-Am Cup

If the title permutations get complicated in the Pro-Cup then the Pro-Am climax looks like it will leave everyone waiting until the very final lap of the season.

Three teams, AF Corse, Vita4one Team Italy and SOFREV ASP go head to head at Navarra in identical Ferrari 458 machinery. The No.52 AF Corse trio of Louis Machiels and Niek Hommerson hold a slender three point advantage at the top of the points table.

Their usual team mate Andrea Bertolini is absent this weekend as he is racing in Japan and is replaced by Alessandro PierGuidi.

Chasing the AF Corse drivers are Eugenio Amos (ITA), Giacomo Petrobelli (ITA) and Alessandro Bonacini (ITA) who like their title rivals failed to score at Nurburgring due to accident damage.

This left a title lifeline for the SOFREV ASP Ferrari 458 team of Jean-Luc Beaubelique (FRA), Ludovic Badey (FRA) and Patrice Goueslard (FRA) as they took 4th place in Germany to close to within 14 points of the leaders.

It would be an unlikely and stealthy title surge from the French squad if AF Corse and Vita4one Team Italy stumble again however Beaubelique and Badey took the Pro-Am honours and 5th place overall at Navarra last season.

The Blancpain-Reiter team will be endeavouring to bounce back from a troublesome Nurburgring weekend and re-visit their brilliant Pro-Am win at Silverstone in June.

Marc A.Hayek, President & CEO of Blancpain, shares the V12 powered Lamborghini LP600+ with Peter Kox, who will be looking to channel the spirit of his pole position lap at Navarra earlier this year in the FIA GT1 event.

In the ultra-competitive Pro-Am Cup it is almost impossible to guess where the race winner will come from with 30 cars entered and 7 brands represented.

Last time out at Nurburgring the Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG took the laurels with a scintillating victory.

Such was the dramatic nature of the last few laps that Oliver Morley could not bare to watch and sought refuge in the team’s truck as team mate Sean Edwards (GBR) took the chequered flag! Steve Jans (LUX) again completes the team on the driving strength.

Gentlemen Trophy

The GT3 Gentlemen Trophy sees another three way battle for honours at Navarra. Sainteloc Racing Audi team of Robert Hissom (GBR), Pierre Hirschi (FRA) lead the Exagon Engineering Porsche 997 of Christian Kelders (BEL), Daniel Desbrueres (FRA) by 11 points.

The title looked signed and sealed after Spa but the Belgian/French duo re-ignited their hopes with a fine win at Nurburgring.

Also with a chance of winning the Gentlemen’s Trophy is the all-Swedish JB Motorsport team. Jan Brunstedt and Mikael Bender are 14 points in arrears of the leaders but the team is bolstered with the addition of Daniel Roos again after he took pole position in class two weeks ago in Germany.

About Blancpain: Over 275 years of tradition in motion

Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing is name is the oldest in the world.

Blancpain is currently engaged in a long-term commitment to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research.

From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past seven years, the Manufacture in Le Brassus has indeed developed no less than 22 new calibres.

Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit.

Its range encompasses the daring L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection and the Blancpain Women models.

The sports enthusiasts’ watch: Chronographe Flyback à Rattrapante Grande Date

While remaining loyal to its fundamental values, Blancpain quite naturally associates with the world of fine automotive mechanical engineering, since the key values of precision, reliability and sturdiness are required and shared by both cars and watches.

The bezel, caseback, dial and even the cap of the folding clasp are all made of carbon fibre and represent technical accomplishments vividly reflecting Blancpain’s innovative strength.

To highlight the sporting nature of the new L-evolutionR, a digital font displays the large date as well as the 3 and 9 o’clock numerals, while the shape of the pushpiece at 8 o’clock resembles a fuel tank cap.

When the chronograph is in action, the movement with its column wheel and vertical coupling-clutch ensures excellent precision.

Two major horological complications offer additionally useful functions: the split-second chronograph enables a split-time read-off, while the flyback function serves to instantly reset and restart the chronograph.

The black alcanatara strap is equipped with carbon fibre inserts evoking the latest technological evolutions in racing car design.

Source: Blancpain

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Blancpain Endurance
Drivers Stéphane Ortelli , Peter Kox , Patrice Goueslard , Stéphane Ratel , Andrea Bertolini , Bas Leinders , Nico Verdonck , Markus Palttala , Ludovic Badey , Sean Edwards , Oliver Morley , Jean-Luc Beaubelique , Maxime Martin , Christian Kelders , Andy Soucek , Dino Lunardi , Giacomo Petrobelli , Robert Hissom , Daniel Desbrueres , Laurens Vanthoor , Christopher Mies , Christopher Haase , Niek Hommerson , Louis Machiels , Pierre Hirschi , David Hallyday , Eugenio Amos , Steve Jans , Alessandro Bonacini , Jan Brunstedt , Mikael Bender , Daniel Roos
Teams AF Corse , Boutsen Ginion Racing , Marc VDS Racing , Black Falcon
Article type Preview
Tags audi, blancpain, bmw, endurance, gt3 pro-am cup, gt3 pro-cup, gt pro-cup, navarra