15.04.2012: The Marc VDS Racing Team took a sensational win in the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series today, at the Monza
The Marc VDS Racing Team took a sensational win in the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series today, at the Monza circuit in Italy. The BMW Z4 GT3, driven by Markus Palttala, Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin, won in torrential rain, despite starting from 18th on the grid. The result was backed up by a seventh place Pro class finish for car #4 - a strong team result.
The race began in frustrating fashion for both cars. After a disappointing qualifying, with #3 starting in 18th position and #4 52nd on the grid, starting drivers Palttala in #3 and Henri Moser in #4 needed as much time as possible to make progress.
However, the race began behind safety car because of the terrible conditions, and racing did not get under way for nearly 40 minutes. When the eventual green flag came, both drivers worked hard to gain places, with Palttala making six places to 12th and Moser passing 24 cars in just 20 minutes to hand over in 28th position overall.
Both pitstops were faultless, with Belgians Leinders and Bert Longin taking #3 and #4 respectively. Leinders was soon on the move forwards, using the wet conditions to his advantage and passing more cars, rising as high as fourth place. With conditions fluctuating, he dropped to eighth as the car came in for its second and final stop.
Martin took the car over and was soon the fastest man on track, passing cars as they made their stops and eventually outbraking the leading Porsche into the first chicane to take the lead of the race. From that point on, he was able to extend the gap to take the victory by a margin of 17.574s.
After a consistent stint, Longin was able to bring the car to Mike Hezemans in 18th place. Hezemans also made progress in his stint to bring the car to a seventh place Pro class finish. The car gained 41 places in the course of the race.
The result is a very strong foundation on which to build for the drivers' and teams' titles, and the team now carry great motivation to the next round, which takes place at Silverstone on June 3rd.
Bas Leinders: Car #3
"The result is amazing, and a little bit unexpected - the BMW was never going to be the fastest car for Monza. But the rain was like a gift from God, and the team did a perfect job to take advantage of that gift. The preparation, strategy and pitwork were all perfect, absolutely no mistakes - the pitstops were incredible.
All the guys with car #4 did a great job too, and they took a great result after a tough qualifying session. It was a big team effort, first place and seventh place is a great start to the teams' championship. I have to say a big, big thank you to Marc van der Straten and all the members of the team - this is reward for them after a very difficult winter."
Maxime Martin: Car #3
"This is fantastic for the team. We worked so hard all winter, and it paid off because in the first race we take a win. The team did a perfect job - I can't praise them enough. The pitstops were superb, and that gave me the chance to use the car - which was really good in these conditions.
If it hadn't rained, we would have struggled a lot more, but I am happy that it did! I am only a little surprised. I knew that if it rained, we stood a chance of a good result, and so it showed. I am very, very happy."
Henri Moser: Car #4
"It was so frustrating to be sat behind the safety car for so long. I knew that we needed as much time as possible to gain places and you cannot pass behind the safety car! The car was good throughout the stint, though, so I could concentrate fully on making places. It was really, really slippery on track, and it was a challenge using the wet line to be fast.
I wanted to stay out of trouble and make as many positions as I could, which is very difficult with all the spray and so little visibility - but I think I succeeded in that respect. Towards the end of my stint it actually was less wet than the start, which I think shows how wet it was when we started!"
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