Priaulx: “The podium is where we’ve got to aim in Spielberg.”
BMW Team Marc VDS will be hoping to bounce back after missing the podium by less than a second at the last round.
Gosselies, Belgium – BMW Team Marc VDS head to the third round of the European Le Mans Series at the Red Bull Ring, looking to climb onto the podium for the first time in 2015. Henry Hassid, Jesse Krohn and Andy Priaulx will be hoping to bounce back after missing the podium by less than a second at the last round. Once again, they’ll be taking to the fight with the BMW Z4 GTE.
For Priaulx, it’s been a season of ups and downs. The year opened at Silverstone, in Great Britain, and his home round didn’t go as he hoped.
We definitely took a step forward with the set-up.
“Without being too negative, Silverstone was a challenge. It was our first race in this series, with the car in this specification, with this tyre partner, and we hadn’t done a lot of testing, so we were essentially testing in public. The car was competitive in qualifying, we were close to the front, but we struggled in the race because we didn’t really have the best handle on the tyre. Even though it was a tough race, we took a fourth place finish, and we learned a huge amount too. It was up and down, we had some drama – especially at the start, and we have to credit Henry for how well he evaded disaster there – but we survived and got some points.”
At the last race in Imola, despite having to start from the back, the team managed to finish fourth – by 0.4 seconds.
“Imola was a step forward in everything but the finishing position. We fought with the leading bunch for a long time. In my stint, I felt so good in the middle sector, the car worked so well, that they were holding me up, but the first and last they were quicker. The handling of this car is so good, it corners so well, but its strength is not the straights. It got a little frustrating, but we were right in the fight and got so close to the podium.
“We definitely took a step forward with the set-up. In qualifying I put the car P2, and it would have been possible to fight for the pole; I got a yellow flag on my fastest lap. Certainly, we had a great qualifying package and a great race package. Having to start from the pitlane wasn’t great, but the team called great strategy, and that put us in the midst against a bit of adversity.”
Now, the trio head to the Red Bull Ring, Marc VDS’ first ever race in Austria, looking to get in among the podium finishers for the first time with the BMW Z4 GTE.
“Going to Spielberg, we want to get on the podium. To do that, we have to be absolutely perfect – all of us – and we need to maximise every moment of track time, making as close to zero mistakes as possible. This weekend, I want to close the gap in the championship. We’re still in with a good chance, and I’d like to take some good points out of the competition this weekend. The podium is where we’ve got to aim.”
He’s keen to point out that the level of competition in the European Le Mans Series is impressive, and a real challenge – even for a driver of Priaulx’s experience.
“The level here is high, it’s a strong championship. It only takes one other car to make your race difficult, and there’s several in this championship that can win races, from Ferrari and Porsche. We’re up there in the mix. It’s the European Le Mans Series, it’s a tough series, not a backwater championship by any stretch.”
Despite having only been with the team for a few months, he’s been hugely impressed by the Marc VDS crew.
“I really, really love this team. I’m not just saying that, they’re a really top, professional team. They’re spot-on, and that gives me a huge amount of confidence. We’ve got a top package, a strong team, and both of my teammates have done awesome jobs. Jesse has been really quick – you can see why BMW Motorsport chose him to be part of their Junior Programme – and Henry has shown to be a very strong gentleman driver. We’re a great team, we win together, lose together.”
For the rest of the season, the aim is clear.
“Now we’re here to keep the pressure on, keep fast and anything can happen. We’ve still got a chance to win this championship if we’re clever and we perform to our maximum.”
BMW Team Marc VDS
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