26.06.2012: The Marc VDS Racing Team go to the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, at Paul Ricard in southern France
The Marc VDS Racing Team go to the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, at Paul Ricard in southern France, looking to extend a four race winning streak. The Belgian outfit, with the BMW Z4 GT3, took victory at the final two rounds of 2011 and are yet to be defeated in 2012 - a run that leaves them top of the table.
Belgians Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin, sharing with Finnish driver Markus Palttala, have taken all four victories and currently lead the standings by 14 points.
Their team mates, new to car and team in 2012, have found times more challenging but are still ready to spring a result after some bad luck in previous races. Bert Longin, Henri Moser and Mike Hezemans are showing strong potential - Hezemans set the fastest lap at Silverstone and the team's pace put them in the top ten in qualifying too.
The French track, however, is one that may not suit the car as well as the sweeping turns of Silverstone did. The BMW Z4 GT3's exceptional grip and turning ability means that its power is heavily restricted, something that will not aid the team on the legendary Mistral straight.
Heat could also be a major factor, with temperatures set to be above 30 degrees. Though rain has played a key role in the two victories this season, the car should be easy on its tyres, which means that over an hour long stint the team can expect to be strong.
Add the team's impressive pit stop record into the mix and it's a recipe that could well see more points to add to their championship challenge.
"No, the circuit is not for our car - the long straight won't suit us, particularly on top speed. We had the same problem at Monza. Normally there shouldn't be rain at this time of year in Paul Ricard, and rain has helped us a lot this season.
We've had extra weight and a ride height adjustment to slow us down, which is odd because without rain we wouldn't have won at Monza and possibly not at Silverstone. Hopefully the strategy and pitstops will be strong - we've been working on them even more. We hope to finish in the top five, then we can prepare for the 24 Hours of Spa."
"Yeah, there's a lot of promise. We have to see, we've had some bad luck. I have a good feeling because we all know the track and we know the car quite well now. In the pre season testing here, we did some good times despite not getting much track time.
It's not a lack of confidence with us, it's just a set of unfortunate circumstances. The car is good now, and we've done some good testing since Silverstone so we're all smiling going into the weekend."
Sebastien Metz: Technical Director
"The main issue at Ricard is that there is a very long straight, so lap time will be based on engine performance, and we're not brilliant on power. We've had another balance of performance adjustment, which is certainly not in our favour, more weight and a higher ride height.
With the ride height, our aero package will not work as well as Silverstone. Expectations are to survive and get some points - it's damage limitation. We have to play on the pitstops and use our strengths as a team on strategy, and the drivers will have to push very hard to get near the front of the grid."
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