Customer Racing: Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport scores a pair of Blancpain GT Series class wins

02.
June 2019
Le Castellet

The third round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup had highs and lows in store for Mercedes-AMG. The highly-rated six-hour race at Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France brought two class wins by the AKKA ASP Team: Nico Bastian (GER), Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS) and Felipe Fraga (BRA) came out on top in the Silver Cup, their teammates Jean-Luc Beaubelique, Jim Pla (both FRA) and Mauro Ricci (ITA) took the spoils in the Pro-Am classification. Bad luck in the race prevented a top result for Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON: Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel and Luca Stolz (both GER) finished 15th and also lost their lead in the overall standings. The Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP entry with defending Blancpain GT Series champion Raffaele Marciello (ITA) retired.

  • P1 and P3 in Silver Cup by AKKA ASP and BLACK FALCON
  • P1 and P2 in Pro-Am by AKKA ASP and RAM Racing
  • Setbacks for Mercedes-AMG Performance Teams

Le Castellet – Round three of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cups started off with mixed results for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Teams. In qualifying for the 6-hour race, the Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON with starting number #4 put in a strong performance: Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz posted the second-fastest time among the total of 49 GT3 cars and got themselves a good grid position as a result.

In ideal outside conditions at Circuit Paul Ricard, spectators got to see a GT3 race with high quality from the outset. Next to the racing action, varying pit stop strategies and safety car interventions in particular resulted into lead changes and changing positions in the order.

At the start, Maro Engel managed to take the lead, but he was to lose it again later in the race. At the end of his stint, he handed the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to Buurman on course for a podium finish. As the race went on, repeating tyre issues saw the team drop back behind the leaders several times, although the drivers managed to close up over and over again. Final driver Luca Stolz was running in eighth place as another puncture forced him to make one more pit stop with 15 minutes remaining. He dropped out of the top ten as a result. The team had to make do with 15th place at the finish and also lost its lead in the overall standings.

AKKA ASP Team’s Nico Bastian had a good start into the race from eighth place on the grid. The defending Silver Cup champion kept the #90 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the overall top ten throughout his double stint. Timur Boguslavskiy and Felipe Fraga then also kept the speed up, enabling final driver Fraga to bring eleventh place overall home. The best result of the eight Mercedes-AMG GT3s also meant first place in the Silver Cup. After its class win at Monza and third place at Silverstone, this was another class podium for the team that extended its lead in the Silver Cup standings.

Having started from 22nd place on the grid, the #6 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 made good progress. During the first two hours of the race, Hubert Haupt (GER) already closed up to the top teams. After that, Patrick Assenheimer (GER) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) also put in solid stints. After 176 laps, final driver Piana crossed the finish line in 14th place overall to secure third place in the Silver Cup. Haupt, Assenheimer and Piana are now second in the Silver Cup standings.

In the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Pro-Am class, two Mercedes-AMG GT3s set the pace for the best part of the race: the #87 AKKA ASP Team entry with Jean-Luc Beaubelique, Jim Pla and Mauro Ricci led the class in the first half of the race, followed by the #76 Ram Racing car with Darren Burke, Tom Onslow-Cole (beide GBR) and Remon Vos (NED). The order of the two Customer Racing Teams remained unchanged until the finish, so the 1-2 in the Pro-Am class was secured once the six hours of racing were completed. Onslow-Cole and Vos are now tied in second place of the class standings.

Defending Blancpain GT Series champion Raffaele Marciello meanwhile didn’t have a good weekend with the Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP: engine failure forced the team to replace the power unit of the #88 on Friday which resulted into a race start from the pit lane as a penalty. From the back of the field, Vincent Abril (MON) started a remarkable comeback. After the first driver change, Michael Meadows (GBR) had the top ten within reach until an accident halfway through the race led to retirement. That left Marciello without points in the battle for the title defence. The #43 STRAKKA Racing car also had to start from the back, the team having had to abandon its qualifying due to technical problems. The issues continued during the race and eventually led to retirement. The next round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup is the legendary Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race (25-28 July).

Nico Bastian, AKKA ASP Team #90: “The race got off to a very turbulent start. Fortunately, I was able to stay out of all the critical situations. After my stint, I brought the car into the pits for the driver change in fifth place. Then, an unfortunate drive-through penalty cost us some time. At the end of the race, our speed was still very good, enabling us to claim Silver Cup victory. That was important to extend our points’ lead.”& lt; /p>

Jim Pla, AKKA ASP Team #87: “We are really happy with victory in the Pro-Am class. The car ran really well, just perfectly. We had a very good balance and our race strategy with the stops worked out, too. I am very happy for the entire team. We have to keep going like this.”

Hubert Haupt, BLACK FALCON #6: “For us, not everything was going optimally. Otherwise, we certainly could have ended further up. Our goal was a Silver Cup podium finish and that is what we achieved. It was a tough race and especially the opening stages were really turbulent. That was where we were able to make up many positions. Now, we are second in the Silver Cup standings and we are looking forward to Spa, where many points are at stake again. We want to use that chance!”

Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #4: “ The race played out in a very disappointing way. With P2 on the grid, we were in an optimal position and our race pace was strong as well. Unfortunately, we then had to deal with tyre problems over and over again that made us drop back. We still have to analyse the cause, but like this, a top result was impossible. Too bad, because we were very well prepared.”

Result Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, 1000km Paul Ricard*:

Pos.

Pos.

Class

Nr.

Class

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

 

1.

 

107

(Pro)

Bentley Continental GT3

Bentley Team M-Sport

Jordan Pepper, Jules Gounon, Steven Kane

2.

2.

72

(Pro)

Ferrari 488 GT3

SMP Racing

Miguel Molina, Mikhail Aleshin, Davide Rigon

3.

3.

563
(Pro)

Lamborghini Huracan GT3

Orange 1 FFF Racing Team

Andrea Caldarelli, Marco Mapelli, Dennis Lind

 

 

 

11.

1.

90

(Silver Cup)

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Nico Bastian (GER), Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS), Felipe Fraga (BRA)

14.

3.

6

(Silver Cup)

Mercedes-AMG GT3

BLACK FALCON

Patrick Assenheimer (GER), Hubert Haupt (GER), Gabriele Piana (ITA)

15.

12.

4

(Pro)

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON

Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)

23.

1.

87

(Pro-Am)

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKA ASP Team

Jean-Luc Beaubelique (FRA), Jim Pla (FRA), Mauro Ricci (ITA)

25.

2.

74

(Pro-Am)

Mercedes-AMG GT3

RAM Racing

Darren Burke (GBR), Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), Remon Vos (NED)

27.

 

10.

133

(Silver Cup)

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Scuderia Villorba Corse

Mauro Calamia (SUI), Stefano Monaco (ITA), Roberto Pampanini (ITA)

DNF

DNF

43

(Pro)

Mercedes-AMG GT3

STRAKKA Racing

David Fumanelli (ITA), Jack Hawksworth (GBR), Lewis Williamson (GBR)

DNF

 

DNF

88

(Pro)

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP

Vincent Abril (MON), Raffaele Marciello (ITA), Michael Meadows (GBR)

* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organisers

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  • 19C0470_001
    Silver Cup winners: Felipe Fraga, Nico Bastian, Timur Boguslavskiy
  • 19C0470_002
    3rd place Silver Cup: Hubert Haupt, Gabriele Piana, Patrick Assenheimer
  • 19C0470_003
    Pro-AM winners: Jean-Luc Beaubelique, Jim Pla, Mauro Ricci
  • 19C0470_004
    2nd place Pro-AM: Darren Burke, Remon Vos, Tom Onslow-Cole
  • 19C0470_005
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #90, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0470_006
    Mercedes-AMG #88, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP
  • 19C0470_007
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #74, RAM Racing
  • 19C0470_008
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #87, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0470_010
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #4, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON
  • 19C0470_009
    Racing action into the night
  • 19C0470_011
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #43, STRAKKA Racing
  • 19C0470_012
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #6, BLACK FALCON
  • 19C0470_013
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #90, AKKA ASP Team
  • 19C0470_014
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #133, Scuderia Villorba
  • 19C0470_015
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #4, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON
  • 19C0470_016
    Race start with Mercedes-AMG GT3 #4 in the lead
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