It’s another busy weekend for Bentley Motorsport including five cars racing in three events. While it will be quiet in the Americas, but in Europe, both the Blancpain Endurance Series and the ADAC GT Championship are racing. Both European partners, HTP Motorsport and M-Sport, will have teams competing for points.
In the Blancpain Endurance Series, M-Sport is fielding cars #7 & #8 and Bentley Team HTP will have their #84 team in the Paul Ricard 1000km race at Le Castellet. M-Sport #7 will be piloted by the formidable trio of Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane. The #8 will be driven by Maxime Soulet, Maxi Buhk and Andy Soucek. The HTP #84 will be driven by Harold Primat, Vincent Abril and Mike Parisy.
“We won the Paul Ricard round last year, but that was only a three-hour race – this year’s 1000 km will take closer to six hours, making it a more formidable challenge for the whole team. We’re ready to race, not just for the championship points but also in preparation for the upcoming test day at Spa and the 24 Hours that follows. For me, this is the most exciting part of the season,” said Bentley Director Of Motorsport, Brian Gush.
For the teams, this race is a primer for next month’s 24 hours of Spa, which is considered to be the crown jewel of the Blancpain Endurance Series. Since this event will run about six hours, it will finish around 11pm local time. This “mini-endurance” format provides a good test for the cars and their teams and gives them some good practice running and working in the dark of night.
With the distance of this round doubling from last year, there are also more points available for the team this weekend. The class winner will earn 33 points instead of the usual 25. The additional points make the Paul Ricard the 2nd in importance after Spa.
For Bentley Motorsport, this means the have focused on being as sharp as they can possibly be coming into this weekend. Considering that Bentley won here last season, they know what it takes. These points haven’t been lost on the 30 some competitors the Bentleys will face, making for a very competitive field.
“So far this season, we’ve had really strong pace but haven’t been able to convert that in to race success – frequently through no fault of our own. Paul Ricard is a great circuit for us because the car is so strong through medium-speed corners, so hopefully we can recreate the form from last year and have a really successful and enjoyable race, said Steven Kane.
Speaking of Spa, the ADAC GT Championship is there for two days of sprint racing. Bentley Team HTP will have cars #7 with Bleekemolen and Stoltz and the #8 with Clemens Schmid and Fabian Hamprecht at the wheel.
Stolz and Bleekemolen already have one win the season at the season opener and are hoping to repeat this weekend.
“The coming weekend is one of the key weekends of this season, as all comes down to the 24 hours of Spa, a race, which we won in 2013,” Bentley Team HTP team principal Norbert Brückner said. “At Le Castellet and at Spa itself we can prepare for the 24h race. It’s also crucial to keep in touch with the championship leaders of the ADAC GT Masters.”
Brian Gush says the teams are ready, saying “as we reach the busiest point of the season, our work ahead of each race becomes even more important. Our mechanics have been working hard to ready the two cars for the upcoming five weeks of work, which will see almost 6000 km of total running. The Continental GT3 was built as endurance racer so I’m confident that the cars will thrive.”