2013 Blancpain Endurance Series champions crowned
A frantic finale to the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series played out in thrilling style at the Nürburgring today with fresh champions in Pro Cup and Pro-Am being crowned.
Maximilian Buhk (DEU) is the new Pro Cup title holder as he finished the season off in style with a maximum 33-point score to seal the drivers’ championship.
A tense finale to the race was set in the penultimate hour when the HTP Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 that Buhk shared with fellow TOTAL 24 HOURS OF SPA winners – Bernd Schneider (DEU) and Maximilian Götz (DEU) was forced in to a brake-pad change. That led to a fascinating final hour, as title challengers – the #3 Marc VDS Racing Team BMW Z4 – driven at the time by Maxime Martin (BEL) took the lead, with the Belgian defending the prized lead valiantly.
The HTP run Mercedes SLS AMG had earlier stretched out a seemingly unbeatable margin; only for their concerns about the brakes ensured a change of pads, offering a glimmer of hope for a late Marc VDS Racing Team title double win. Despite several sensational wheel-to-wheel moments between Martin and Buhk, it was the German who won out with a brave overtaking manoeuvre with just 40 minutes of the race remaining.
For German racing legend, Bernd Schneider, it was a particularly memorable victory as he became the only driver in history to win both a 1000 kms billed GT race and the Nürburgring 24 Hours in the same season. Maximilian Götz again enhanced his growing reputation with faultless stints in the race to set a comfortable foundation for a famous victory.
Rounding out the podium was the ART Grand Prix-run McLaren MP4-12C driven by Andy Soucek (ESP), Antoine Leclerc (FRA) and Mike Parisy (FRA). Although they also started third on the grid, the team were satisfied with their performance, which ensured that they book-ended the 2013 with another podium appearance, after they started the campaign off with a 2nd position at Monza in April.
Other pre-race title protagonists that ended the season with difficult races included Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and Kessel Racing. The #13 Audi R8 LMS ultra driven by Frank Stippler (DEU), Christopher Mies (DEU) and René Rast (DEU) ran as high as 2nd for part of the six-hour endurance race but ultimately fell back after suffering with brake problems and an incident with the 3rd placed ART McLaren, to eventually be classified 16th in Pro Cup.
Kessel Racing had an eventful race at the Blancpain 1000 with several incidents throughout the event. After fighting back from a Free Practice accident on Saturday morning, the Swiss team served two penalties, the first of which was for unavoidable contact with the Hexis Racing McLaren.
It was a day of celebration for the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN as they toasted Lucas Ordonez (ESP) as he became the 2013 Pro-Am driver’s champion. As well as this honour the British based team also took home the Pro-Am team silverware. It was achieved the hard way as several incidents for both their #32 and #35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 entries ensured team boss Bob Neville was busy calculating the points during the last hour of the event. It was a richly deserved success for the team after showing consistency and pace throughout 2013.
Ordonez and the Nissan GT Academy saw their closest rivals retire early from the race with reigning champions – Niek Hommerson (NDL), Louis Machiels (BEL) being ruled out of the action when their team mate, Fabio Babini (ITA), caused a safety-car deploying accident. TDS Racing also retired with accident damage to end Henry Hassid (FRA) and Ludovic Badey’s dreams of capturing the Pro-Am title.
Winning the Pro-Am category was Kirill Ladygin (RUS), his younger brother – Anton Ladygin (RUS) and Victor Shaitar (RUS). The all-Russian driving squad converted their pole position to enjoy a comfortable final two hours and seal the win in their Ferrari 458 Italia.
Scoring their best result of the season was the ROAL Motorsport entered BMW Z4 driven by Michela Cerruti (ITA) and Stefano Comandini (ITA). The Roberto Ravaglia-run team held off the Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Klaas Hummel (NDL) and Steve Jans (LUX) who claimed the final podium position at their home track.
In the Gentlemen Trophy class the points and champagne went to the Sport Garage/Eric Cayrolle team. Cayrolle (FRA) himself was partnered by Bruce Lorgere Roux (FRA) and Venezualan racer – Justino Azcarate in the #52 Ferrari 458 Italia. All three drivers drove a faultless race and came home two laps ahead of the Boutsen-Ginion pairing of Karim Ojjeh (SAU) and Marlène Broggi (FRA) who secured their best result of the season. Completing the Gentlemen Trophy podium was the new GT Corse entrant of Pierre Ehret (FRA), Alexander Mattschull (DEU) and Christian Kohlaas (DEU) in a Ferrari 458 Italia.