GPR Aston Martin Racing: Excellent start to the Blancpain Endurance Series

Monday, April 18, 2011

A mere week after the opening round of the Belcar Endurance Championship at Circuit Zolder, the GPR Aston Martin Racing team headed off for the Monza park to compete in the now already renowned Blancpain Endurance Series, a competition with as its highpoint the 24 Hours of Spa being held at the end of July. On Italian soil the Aston Martin DBRS9 bearing the colours of Aston Martin Antwerp-Michiels, Creaset, HYT and Gulf was in the hands of Ludovic Sougnez, back on the international scene, Eddy Renard and Christian Kelders.

And straightaway the Belgian team were taken in by the atmosphere of this Blancpain series and its immediate success ... "This is truly a great championship, and competing in it we find ourselves amongst the top players, Pino Sperlinga explained. An extra hour of free practice might not have gone amiss on this track we're discovering, but everyone is in the same boat. On top of that there's a friendly atmosphere amongst the various teams."

Not having tested previously on the Monza circuit, the GPR AMR took full advantage of the two hours of free practice on the Saturday, but also the qualifying sessions in order to prepare the Aston Martin DBRS9 for the three hour long race on the Sunday. « We were somewhat lacking in mileage to hope for any brilliant results during the official session, but as we soon noticed that delay was immediately reduced once the start had been given, Eddy Renard commented. I clocked up my best personal lap time during my race stint. Our climb up through the pack was quite spectacular and even though we just missed out on a podium place in Pro-Am, our 7th place overall undoubtedly reveals the potential of this Aston."

Apart from a few annoyances with the brakes, the DBRS9 driven by Sougnez, Renard and Kelders ran like clockwork during the entire 180 minutes, where others fell by the wayside due to lack of reliability ... « I believe that by finishing the race at Monza, where we only discovered the track's subtleties during a mere two days, in 7th place overall and 4th in the Pro-Am and coming out as the top Aston Martin, we can be truly satisfied with this great start, is how Ludovic Sougnez summed up the race. The latter took the first stint, and having started from 22nd place on the grid he drove a splendid race to bring the car up into the top 10 overall in just one hour. We need to continue concentrating on the work, and with that in mind we will be at Zolder this coming Thursday to carry on with the car's development. But I feel really at home with this team and in this brand new Blancpain Endurance Series. It looks promising ... "

We should also mention that at Monza, GPR Aston Martin Racing had entered a Vantage GT4 for the Italian pair Sanguiolo, De Pasquale, as also the Swiss driver Vernet. Although still awaiting the 2011 evolutions this car still took the chequered flag in 5th place in the GT4 class, definitely another promising start.

The sprint of the beginning of this season now follows on for the Pino Sperlinga outfit, which will be travelling back from Italy to head for the Belgian Limburg, where the second round of the Belcar takes place this coming weekend, within the framework of the prestigious World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). This time around the race is over two hours, and the Aston Martin GPR AMR, to be driven by Henri Moser and Michaël Schmetz, has every intention of aiming for an overall podium place.
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