The four-hour race will be a tough task for the team.
Gosselies, Belgium – BMW Team Marc VDS begin their European Le Mans Series in earnest at Silverstone on Saturday. The Belgian squad will give the BMW Z4 GTE its European race debut, with Henry Hassid, Jesse Krohn and home hero Andy Priaulx set to drive the #52 car.
The four-hour race will be a tough task for the team. They will race alongside the purpose-built LMP2 & 3 prototypes, as well as less developed GT3 machinery in the GTC class. In their only appearance in the series, Marc VDS took victory in the GTC class at Estoril in October 2014 – but that does not mean that their step up to GTLM will be easy. The BMW Z4 GTE will race for the first time on Dunlop tyres, as specified by the series, and in a slightly different configuration than seen in America.
Silverstone, however, is familiar ground for the team and all three drivers. Marc VDS have won here in the Blancpain Endurance Series, and this is Priaulx’s home race. Krohn, meanwhile, has lived in England – Skegness – and knows the British racing culture well. It’s a fast and flowing circuit, with some of the world’s best-known corners – including the sensationally fast Maggots, Becketts, Chapel complex, demanding full commitment from driver and car.
Sebastien Metz, Technical Director: “We’ve not had the ideal build up to this race but we’ve learned a huge amount and made progress. We need as much time as we can get on the Dunlop tyres, but there’s only a limited amount of tyres we’re allowed to use so that will be a challenge! In the past, we’ve proven that good strategy and consistent running can earn you strong results, even when you don’t have the fastest single lap speed, and we’ll be looking to use our experience. We’re here for a championship, not just one race victory.”
Jesse Krohn, BMW Z4 GTE: “I’m really looking forward to my first race with Marc VDS. I’ve been really impressed by the way the team works when we’ve tested, and I can’t wait to work with them on a race weekend. To be making the debut in England is great – I spent a lot of time here, but I’ve not raced there for five years! I’ve missed the great circuits here, and the fans are fantastic. The competition in ELMS is super tough, and we need to work really hard to fight for podiums. As a team, however, I believe we’re ready for the challenge. From my side, I’ve spent the whole winter training hard in Spain and I’m confident that I’m better prepared for this season than ever before!”
Andy Priaulx, BMW Z4 GTE: “This ELMS GTE program is very important to me, anything supported by BMW Motorsport has to be important. The Marc VDS team is very professional, and that also gives me a lot of motivation. I am so pleased to be racing here at my home circuit – I love this place. I really hope that the supporters show up and support our ELMS race. With only four hours – that’s short for endurance! – we should see some pretty intense racing. Honestly, I’m not sure what we can expect from this race, results-wise. I think we will be competitive as a team and our driver line up is also strong, however we can’t be sure until all the cars are racing. We’ll get our first impression this weekend. My approach to this four-hour remains the same as any, we have to finish the race at the fastest possible pace, and that’s no different in any series. Maybe I will not be quite so aggressive as in the BTCC, but if you are not committed that is more dangerous, so I’ll still be pushing – just with less risk!”