Sunday, 24 May 2015

Blancpain Endurance round at Silverstone

The chance of watching 60 cars battle it out around Silverstone for 3 hours was too good to resist.

Featuring a dazzling array of marques, from Bentley, McLaren, Nissan, Aston Martin, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Jaguar, BMW and Ferrari it was an overcast Silverstone which greeted the packed Blancpain grid.

Prior to the main event, there was a single make race solely featuring Lamborghini Huracans which looked really tasty!  They were poised and must surely feature in higher order racing such as the WEC.

Between the Lamborghini Huracan race and the Blancpain Endurance race there was a further round of the Auto GP championship.  The grid was sorely depleted, featuring 7 cars.  This was reduced to 5, following to restarts - although the two cars which dropped out on the grid, were able to start from the pit lane.  To be fair though the cars sounded and looked good, but the grid was shockingly small - especially considering the bumper grid on offer for the Blancpain race.  Seven cars is far too few for the full Silverstone circuit.

The Blancpain race got underway and whilst there was almost some drizzle around the complex at Luffield, it wasn't enough to trouble anyone.  The Brazilian BMWs took an instant dislike to each other and limped round to the pits...  Not a good start to an endurance race for them!  The Z4s looked a bit out-of-sorts around Silverstone and the Mercedes' also looked a little anonymous as well.  The McLarens looked good out on track and the Nissan GTRs looked racy!  The lone, lead Nissan was being tracked by a pair of hunting McLaren's and thus it transpired, the McLaren's pounced at the pitstops and drove away until Jan Mardenbrough attempted a late fightback in the final stint for the Nissan by setting some stunning, consistent quick laps.  In the end it was too much for Jan to achieve and he ended the 3 hour race some 5 seconds off P1.

Surely the 650s and GTRs need a more impressive platform to show off their skills.  Could they possibly be upgraded to GT2 classification or beyond?  Surely La Sarthe calls..

The sun did make a brief appearance towards the end of the race.  The crowds were small but quite decent and there was just enough open for the crowds to feel welcomed at what can seem like a cold and desolate place.  The only facilities open were based around the National / Heritage pits which were the only ones being used for the weekend.

Please enjoy a few of our selected shots from the day!

Audi make it 2 from 2 in WEC...

Two from two (Silverstone and then Francorchamps) so far for Audi.  Porsche looked quick both weekends, but ultimately seemed to slip up and Audi pounced on both occasions to claim the top spots.  Toyota have looked oddly out of sorts this season, they seem to be struggling to take the fight to either Audi or Porsche.  One must wonder if both Porsche and Toyota are concentrating on Le Mans and targetting all of their efforts to a 24 hours win.  Time will tell..!  Porsche definitely have single lap pace, but can they keep up a sustained race pace?  It seems yet to be confirmed..  Toyota seem to have stood still while both Porsche and Audi have moved forward and put themselves just out of touching distance.  There will be quite a difference for all marques as they will have their full energy harvesting allocation available to them.

Nissan have been oddly absent from the WEC, citing needing to complete more testing ahead of the race at Circuit de la Sarthe.  Even more oddly they're limiting the Test Day to just a single driver for each car.  The other drivers of those entries will get their rookie laps courtesy of the Ginetta Juno LMP3 cars which are being allowed to take part.  This is in anticipation of Sir Chris Hoy being able to compete at Le Mans in 2016, a sort of try before you buy!  It will be interesting to see how they run in amongst the LMP1s, 2s and GTs..