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Blancpain GT Series – Race Report Round 4
Both BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished in the top 15 at the third round of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, the Paul Ricard 1000kms. The six-hour marathon event was twice the length of a standard Blancpain event, and saw the 49 entries race into the darkness. BLACK FALCON had qualified well and were on course for a strong result before a puncture dropped their Pro-class entry out of the points, frustrating what had been a strong run backed up by brave strategy in a race interrupted by several caution periods.
The #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 was entered in the Pro class and featured team veterans and multiple race-winners Yelmer Buurman (Netherlands), Maro Engel (Germany) and Luca Stolz (Germany). In the Silver Cup category, Patrick Assenheimer (Germany), Hubert Haupt (Germany) and Gabriele Piana (Italy) were behind the wheel of the #6 AMG GT3.
The #4 crew seemed on the cusp of claiming pole position after the first two segments of Qualifying, only to be pipped during the third and final part to end up just 0.053 seconds off the fastest time on aggregate; #4 would line up second on the grid of 49 starters. In Silver Cup, #6 put in the fifth fastest lap in class, and would start in a strong 23rd overall.
The race commenced at 18:00 on a warm evening at Paul Ricard, and Maro made the perfect start from second at the rolling start, out-accelerating the pack to lead around the opening lap. Hubert also delivered an excellent first lap, taking #6 into the thick of the fight and completing the first lap in an excellent 17th. But with just two laps completed, a safety car was required to neutralize the field following an accident at the end of the flat-out Mistral Straight. The clean-up operation took some time and it was half an hour before racing recommenced. Maro initially held off his pursuers at the restart – only for a second Full Course Yellow to be called due to an accident at the final corner that had occurred just as the race had restarted. With the race again on hold, the team decided to bring both cars in for early pit-stops, hoping that the new out of sync strategy would pay dividends later on.
At the 90 minute mark both BLACK FALCON AMG were into the top 10 due to their offset strategy. Maro was the first to pit, handing over #4 to Yelmer. Hubert in #6 eked out his stint to the max, handing over to Patrick over 15 minutes later from an impressive third overall, just 15 seconds off the lead. With the sun setting low in the drivers’ eyeline nearing the halfway point of the race, Patrick and Yelmer continued to perform strongly in the leading group. The sun rapidly disappeared under the horizon, plunging the track into darkness. With two hours to go, Gabriele took over #6 from Patrick, emerging in 15th, while Luca would be in #4 to the flag, racing in 12th position.
Both drivers advanced during the penultimate hour, but then #4 was forced to pit with a puncture just before the top of the hour. With just a quarter of an hour to go, the car also had to perform a drive-through penalty for an earlier pit-lane infringement, putting an end to the team’s hopes of being in contention at race end. After a tough six hours of racing, #6 crossed the line in 14th to score an excellent podium in Silver Cup, with #4 just finishing just behind.
Unfortunately the result meant the #4 squad scored no championship points, but they retain second place in the Blancpain GT Series standings that combine both the Endurance and Sprint Cups. They’ll be looking to bounce back at the next Sprint Cup race, which will be held at Misano in Italy on June 30th. The class podium for #6 has put them in second position in the Silver Cup standings.
Attention now turns to the fourth round of the championship, the iconic Spa 24 Hours, a twice-round-the-clock epic that was first held in 1924.
General information about the Blancpain GT Series
In the 2019 season, the Blancpain GT Series features ten rounds of racing on Europe's most famous circuits. The championship is divided into two disciplines, each with its own classification: The Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, which consists of a 1000km race, three 3-hour races and the famous 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps, and the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, which runs two one-hour races over five race weekends. BLACK FALCON takes on the role of defending team and driver champion in the Endurance Cup in 2019 and extends its commitment to the World Challenge Europe sprint discipline to win the overall Blancpain GT Series championship.
Race Calendar Blancpain GT Series 2019
13. – 14.04: Round 1, Monza, Endurance Cup
04. – 05.05: Round 2, Brands Hatch, GT World Challenge Europe
11. – 12.05: Round 3, Silverstone, Endurance Cup
31.05 – 01.06: Round 4, Paul Ricard, Endurance Cup
28. – 30.06: Round 5, Misano, GT World Challenge Europe
12. – 14.07: Round 6, Zandvoort, GT World Challenge Europe
25. – 28.07: Round 7, Spa, Endurance Cup
30.08 – 01.09: Round 8, Nürburgring, GT World Challenge Europe
06. – 08.09: Round 9, Hungaroring, GT World Challenge Europe
28. – 29.09: Round 10, Barcelona, Endurance Cup
TV broadcasting, live streaming and social media
For all qualifying sessions and races, a extensive live streaming service including live timing is available on the official Blancpain GT Series website, YouTube and Facebook channel. Further information about Team BLACK FALCON is available daily on the team's social media channels: