2015 Blancpain Endurance Silverstone - day 2 (race)
Day two of the massive Blancpain Endurance event in Silverstone started with three short qualifying sessions before the main three-hour-long race in the afternoon. The weather was a little problematic with a few drops of rain here and there but the drivers could use dry tyres and achieve best times.
With three 15-minute-long qualifying sessions which started at 9am, the drivers needs to be very fast even though there was not a lot time for preparations. So, the qualifying round also proved to be interesting with Nissan GT-R GT3 scoring a pole position (Nissan GT Academy Team) in front of Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 and Audi R8 LMS Ultra and McLaren 650S. Interestingly, for amateur races (AM Cup) the pole position was won by famous football-player-turned racer Fabien Barthez in another Italia GT3. Full results HERE:
By afternoon and race time, (14:45 pm) the weather had improved slightly but there was still a good chance of rainfall. However, most of the drivers on the grid were on their dry tyres and teams calculated with new and old sets having in mind a long race and race tactics.
However, the biggest problem was not the rain, tyres or something else; it was the traffic which caused the most troubles. There was a total of 61 cars which had qualified for this race, which meant that there would be twice or thrice times the number of cars usually seen on Silverstone.
The other concern of the teams was pit strategy. In endurance races, pit strategy is very important. When you lose 10 seconds in the pits it is very hard to gain those seconds on the track.
However, the rolling start of the 2015 Blancpain Endurance race at Silverstone was a magnificent sight with large numbers of different racing cars roaring down the straight. It went off mostly without any major incident. Since the grid itself was enormous, there were few track excursions but nothing major.
The first five cars started the race in the same positions as in the qualifying rounds and very soon they had distanced themselves from the rest of the grid. However, that was when the heavy traffic started to cause problem. The Pro drivers had problems with leftover amateur drivers who were at the back of the pack and caused the faster cars to lose speed while overtaking and waiting for slower cars to move.
The biggest price was paid by Wolfgang Reip in Nissan who had a small collision with Ferrari and lost first place. After that, McLaren came in at first place with Audi far back and almost 42 seconds behind. Audi went full out and in 15 laps, managed to gain 10 seconds. The McLaren 650S with Shane Van Gisbergen and later Kevin Estre was the fastest and tried to widened the gap between the rest of the grid.
Entering the last hour of the race, there were a few small accidents with McLaren 650S at the 10th place and Audi R8 LMS Ultra which spun into gravel. The McLaren of Alvaro Parente had collision with car No23 and had significant damage to rear side of his car. He was able to drive the damaged McLaren into the pits but parts of his car fell of on the track with bits of bodywork. The yellow flag was taken out and track officials tried to clean the track from parts of the crashed McLaren.
After the green flag signalled the continuation of the race, Estre pushed hard in order to keep the lead and make some time against Audi on the second spot. Laurens Vanthoor on the second place was eager to attack but had a big problem with traffic even though he had the best lap times showing that he is able to drive faster then Estre in McLaren.
He was even capable of gaining 3-4 seconds per lap which was fantastic. However, Estre was calm with a big lead. His McLaren was the first with 3 Audis behind him and fourth R8 LMS Ultra when Stephane Ortelli took 4th place from Nissan in a great maneuver.
The last half hour of the race was routine for Kevin Estre who won with comfortable lead in front of three Audis, Nissan on fourth, Bentley on sixth and Ferrari and Lamborhini on seventh and eight place. For full results click HERE: