Two from two for Leimer as Lanting retains Iron Cup by single point from Earle at Barcelona
Cedric Leimer made it two Blancpain GT Sports Club victories in as many outings at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this afternoon thanks to another dominant performance in the championship’s final Main Race of the year. Meanwhile, Martin Lanting retained the Iron Cup title for drivers aged 60 and over by a single point from Stephen Earle, who won his second Main Race of the season.
Leimer lined up on pole position alongside Michal Broniszewski after winning the day’s opening race, but it was fast-starting Nicolas Vandierendonck who shot from fourth to first at Turn 1 with a brave move down the inside. The Corvette’s lead was short-lived, though, as a result of Leimer’s X Bionic Lamborghini Huracan cutting back underneath before Broniszewski also re-claimed second three corners later.
However, the race was neutralised just one lap after it had started as a result of Jean-Michel Baert’s accident. Having run wide exiting the final corner, his Audi skipped across the gravel trap and speared back across the circuit head-first into the pitwall.
Just 23 of the race’s scheduled 40 minutes remained when the Safety Car was finally withdrawn. Leimer’s accomplished re-start immediately helped him break the tow to Broniszewski and, as was the case earlier in the day, he steadily pulled clear thereafter to eventually complete his perfect debut 6.2 seconds ahead of the Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 GT3.
Vandierendonck came home third, albeit almost four seconds adrift of Broniszewski. But there was plenty of action further back thanks to debutant Eric Cayrolle who hustled his Ferrari back ahead of Maurice Ricci’s fast-starting AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG just after racing resumed.
Ricci also dropped back behind Cordoni at one point but took the chequered flag fifth after re-passing the Italian with just one minute remaining. Jaime Font Casas finished less than three tenths further back after an inspired drive from 21st on the grid, while the top-eight was completed by Christoph Ulrich.
With just five Iron Cup-entered drivers taking the start, points leader Martin Lanting knew that merely finishing would be enough to give him the title regardless of what his sole rival Stephen Earle could muster after the American’s Qualifying Race puncture resulted in him losing further ground in the championship.
Earle was in fine form though and had soon passed Lanting for the class lead once racing resumed. After that he was reliant on the Monegasque failing to finish, which almost came to pass when his Ferrari spun as a result of contact with Daniel Vogt’s Mercedes. Both time and positions were lost while recovering but fifth in class was still enough to give him the Iron Cup title by just one point.
Cedric Leimer, #963 X Bionic Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3: “I am very happy, of course! I have only competed once this season in the Sprint Cup so did not expect to be so competitive this weekend. Clearly Michal Broniszewski has been very fast this year and I knew it would be tough to beat him. But I also raced here in Lamborghini Super Trofeo so at least had some track knowledge to rely on.”
Stephen Earle, #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 GT3: “This is my 25th year of racing so I know you can have the best car, best team and best strategy but cannot always win because you must also be lucky. You have no control over that but it is addictive and is what keeps bringing us all back. I did what I could in the first race before the tyre blew but that is the way things go sometimes. Nevertheless, I am still very happy for the team; Michal [Broniszewski] won the Overall championship and I was second in the Iron Cup, so I cannot complain too much.”
Martin Lanting, #48 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GTE: “This is not the first time that I have won a championship in such circumstances! It also happened in 2002 when I was pushed off and had to think about just reaching the finish, which in some ways is easier because there are no cars in front of you! I am very happy to be a Blancpain GT Sports Club champion once again, not only for me but also the team, my friends, my wife and the organisation. It really is something worth winning and I am delighted to be standing here as a double Iron Cup champion. I will definitely be back next year; the championship is growing in stature and quality. Hopefully there will be even more Iron Cup challengers!”
Season three of the Blancpain GT Sports Club gets underway at Misano in Italy on 1/2 April 2017.
Click here for the Main Race classification.
1. The Blancpain GT Sports Club field heads into Turn 1 at the start of the Main Race
2. Cedric Leimer (centre) claimed his second Overall victory of the day ahead of Michal Broniszewski (left) and Nicolas Vandierendonck.
3. Stephen Earle (centre) celebrates winning his second Iron Cup race of the season. Jan Brunstedt (left) and Klaus Dieter Frers completed the podium.
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About Blancpain GT Sports Club
Established in 2015, the championship offers amateur drivers a chance to fight their peers for overall race wins aboard modern GT machinery while also enjoying an exclusive and friendly paddock atmosphere. Equally, practice and qualifying sessions followed by non-pitstop 25-minute Qualifying and 40-minute Main Races ensure maximum track time. Drivers over 60 are also catered for thanks to the additional Iron Cup classification.
Equally, for gentleman drivers new to sportscars the Blancpain GT Sports Club provides an ideal stepping stone and proving ground between club competition and professional-level racing in Europe and beyond.
It is also an opportunity to bring a wider variety of GT cars together. Indeed, the Blancpain GT Sports Club is the only series to balance GTE-spec machinery with that of GT3, RACB G3 and single-make championships, offering owners of each the chance to race on a level playing field without investing in newer technology. Furthermore, in some cases it also provides a home for highly capable GT cars now replaced with newer models by manufacturers and teams competing in the sport's upper echelons.
The Blancpain GT Sports Club acts as an official support championship to five Blancpain GT Series rounds in 2016.
Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT racing
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2016, SRO Motorsports Group will promote several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa, the British GT Championship, the Blancpain Sports Club with the Blancpain GT Sports Club and the Blancpain Ultracar Sports Club, the Competition102 GT4 European Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC - a high-level technical centre at Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France - and Curbstone, that provides ultimate track driving opportunities on world renowned race circuits in Western Europe for supercar owners, as well as test driving facilities for race car drivers.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.