Paul Ricard Blancpain: Bentley dominates after 2018 heartbreak

Bentley made up for its 2018 disappointment at Paul Ricard by dominating this year's edition of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup's 1000km race.

Paul Ricard Blancpain: Bentley dominates after 2018 heartbreak

Jordan Pepper, Steven Kane, and Jules Gounon missed out on victory 12 months ago after being overtaken by the Emil Frey Lexus with three corners to go.

This year they dominated from pole in the #107 car, sticking to the original strategy of pitting at the top of the hour, while others stopped early during the first hour under safety car conditions.

The M-Sport-run team also had luck on its side during the race as the safety cars and full-course yellows came out at the right time for its strategy, which allowed the team to pit and retain the lead under cautions.

Pepper, Kane and Gounon also survived a late scare when a wheelnut got stuck in the wheel gun while changing the front-left tyre, which cost the team 14 seconds, but they still managed to stay out ahead of the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 that finished in second with Miguel Molina, Mikhail Aleshin and Davide Rigon.

The #72 car had worked its way to the lead of the race with two hours remaining after starting from 16th on the grid.

But a drive-through penalty for a pitlane infringement in which the car was jacked up twice dropped them back to second.

The #563 Orange FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Andrea Caldarelli, Dennis Lind and Marco Mapelli finished third after Mapelli overtook Marvin Kirchhofer in the R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with five minutes remaining.

Kirchhofer came home fourth in the car he shares with Jake Dennis and Alex Lynn.

M-Sport had two Bentleys in the top six, with the #108 car of Callum MacLeod, Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet sixth behind Matt Campbell, Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner's Rowe Racing Porsche.

The early part of the race had been disrupted by two safety car periods in the first hour that lasted over 30 minutes in total, during which a number of teams pitted early to get their joker stops out of the way.

The first safety car came out after only one and a half laps of racing as the #444 HB Racing Ferrari and the #2 WRT Audi came together at the fast right-hander at Signes, causing significant front-end damage to both cars.

Then two laps after that safety car period ended, the race was paused again as the #27 Lazarus Lamborghini collided with the #55 Attempto Audi - which spun backwards across the final corner and collected the #78 Barwell Lamborghini.

The majority of teams that took advantage of the early cautions to clear pitstops couldn't make the strategy work later in the race - including reigning champions Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman, who finished only 15th.

The ASP team won both the Silver Class, with Nico Bastia, Timur Boguslavskiy and Felipe Fraga, and the Pro-Am class with Jim Pla, Mauro Ricci and Jean-Luc Beaubelique.

Report by Jack Giordmaina

Race results:

Pos. Drivers Car LAPS
1 J.Pepper, S.Kane, J.Gounon Bentley 176
2 M.Molina, M.Aleshin, D.Rigon Ferrari 176
3 D.Lind, A.Caldarelli, M.Mapelli Lamborghini 176
4 A.Lynn, M.Kirchhofer, J.Dennis Aston Martin 176
5 D.Werner, M.Campbell, D.Olsen Porsche 176
6 C.MacLeod, A.Soucek, M.Soulet Bentley 176
7 R.Ineichen, C.Engelhart, M.Bortolotti Lamborghini 176
8 C.Schmid, N.Foster, K.van der Linde Audi 176
9 S.Gachet, S.Palette, C.Haase Audi 176
10 M.Vaxiviere, M.Parry, M.Martin Aston Martin 176
11 N.Bastian, T.Boguslavskiy, F.Fraga Mercedes 176
12 I.Pareras, K-L.Schramm, F.Hutchison Audi 176
13 C.Weerts, N.Nato, R.Breukers Audi 176
14 H.Haupt, P.Assenheimer, G.Piana Mercedes 176
15 M.Engel, L.Stolz, Y.Buurman Mercedes 175
16 D.Perel, D.Bulatov, R.Salikhov Ferrari 175
17 T.Proto, D.Menchaca, M.Beretta Lamborghini 175
18 D.Dupont, D.Stoneman, S.Gattuso Lamborghini 175
19 P.Petit, A.MacDowall, S.Davies Audi 174
20 G.Venturini, P.Keen, F.Perera Lamborghini 174
21 B.Goethe, J.Grogor, S.Hall Porsche 174
22 P.Frommenwiler, R.Ratcliffe, M.McMurry Honda 174
23 J.Pla, M.Ricci, J-L.Beaubelique Mercedes 173
24 A.West, C.Harris, C.Goodwin Aston Martin 173
25 R.L.Vos, D.Burke, T.O.-Cole Mercedes 173
26 S.Yoluc, A.Al Harthy, C.Eastwood Aston Martin 173
27 R.Pampanini, S.Monaco, M.Calamia Mercedes 172
28 N.Hommerson, L.Machiels, A.Bertolini Ferrari 171
29 A.Amstutz, L.Machitski, M.Ramos Lamborghini 171
30 P.Chatelet, P-Y.Paque, M.Winkelhock Audi 171
31 P.Ehret, M.Berry, J.M.Balbiani Ferrari 171
32 M.Rostan, A.Detavernier, K.Ojjeh BMW 168
33 C.Buncombe, J.Hui, C.Froggatt Ferrari 168
34 P.Feligioni, C-Y.Gosselin, R.Kuppens Lamborghini 165
35 S.Costantini, A.Forne, C.Lenz Lamborghini 144
36 D.Pierce, R.Smith, S.Morris Bentley 134
37 K.Bachler, Z.Ashkanani, A.Rizzoli Porsche 126
- B.Delhez, E.Cayrolle, F.Barthez Lexus 94
- A.Watson, J.Adam, C.Ledogar Aston Martin 92
- R.Marciello, M.Meadows, V.Abril Mercedes 77
- S.Muller, R.Dumas, M.Jaminet Porsche 77
- L.Mauron, G.Tweraser, A.Santamato Lamborghini 70
- D.Fumanelli, D.Gore, L.Williamson Mercedes 51
- M.Lauck, C.Hook, S.Parrow Ferrari 49
- F.Crestani, N.Pohler, K.Richard Lamborghini 13
- J.Pull, J.Witt, S.Mitchell Lamborghini 12
- S.Schothorst, P.Schothorst, M.Drudi Audi 11
- D.Vanthoor, E.P.Companc, A.Riberas Audi 1
- J.Liebhauser, F.Scholze, W.Triller Ferrari 1
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