The Blancpain Endurance Series gathers at the Circuit Paul Ricard this weekend for the third round of an increasingly exciting 2013 season. Once again another bumper grid of 62 GT3 cars is set to battle in the South of France. The remaining two races contributing to the Blancpain Endurance Series will be the TOTAL 24 HOURS OF SPA on 27-28 July and the Blancpain1000 event at Nurburgring on September 22.
PRO-AM – Who can break Nissan’s ‘Mistral Momentum?’
So far in the intense and varied PRO-Am class it has been a tale of three different manufacturers of GT3 cars fighting it out at the top of the points table. The pace and momentum has definitely been with the impressive Nissan GT Academy Team RJN entry of Alex Buncombe and Lucas Ordonez. Joined at Silverstone by new ‘gamer to racer’ recruit – Peter Pyzera, they destroyed their PRO-AM competition winning the class by a full lap and also leading the race outright for the first 25 minutes. Buncombe has been the star of the show so far this season and the amiable Brit will be aiming for another leading performance in the impeccably prepared Nissan GT3 R NISMO at Paul Ricard. It could not be tighter at the top of the points table as Nissan GT Academy Team RJN shares the same points as AF Corse and TDS Racing after two rounds. Reigning champions AF Corse had a troubled Silverstone race last time out, but with Andrea Bertolini in the Ferrari 458 Italia, they will be aiming to re-claim the title lead this weekend and defend the 2012 driver’s title for Niek Hommerson and Louis Machiels. After a tough Silverstone race where they were taken out of contention by another car, the Blancpain Racing Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 FL II of President and CEO of Blancpain, Marc A. Hayek and team mate Peter Kox will be aiming to bounce back strongly this weekend at Paul Ricard. TDS Racing’s BMW Z4 has had a sublime start to the 2013 campaign with two podium visits for the excellent duo of Henry Hassid and Ludovic Badey. Their partnership created one of the drives of the season so far when they came from the back of the field to take 3rd in the PRO-AM class at Silverstone earlier this month and they are always one to watch. There are so many more potential winners in the huge entry at Paul Ricard. Black Falcon is always a threat with their brace of Mercedes SLS AMGs, especially as they added the talented Duncan Tappy to their driver strength at Silverstone. The PRO GT by Almeras and the Haribo Racing Porsche 997s are also sure to be threats to the title leaders on the long straights and challenging quick corners of the Circuit Paul Ricard. Boutsen-Ginion will be fighting back from a frustrating weekend at Silverstone which saw their weekend blighted by accidents. Proudly racing with the ‘Baku World Challenge Powered by Aztexnikat’ logos on their cars, the ultra-professional Belgian team will have high hopes to turn around their fortunes after some very promising lap times during the official test back in March. Always sure to grab the headlines, just like he used to grab opposing defenders, will be Fabien Barthez who is entered in a third SOFREV ASAP Ferrari 458 Italia, along with regular teammates Gérard Tonelli and Morgan Moullin Traffort. The three of them will be using Paul Ricard as a warm up for the TOTAL 24 HOURS OF SPA next month.