Blancpain Endurance at Silverstone

Before 2015 I had never heard of Blancpain and, quite frankly, I still know precious little about it. Only because one of my favourite drivers is now taking part I decided I’d give this series a go. And I’m glad I did.
Mind you, the driver in question was racing elsewhere…such is my luck. But I didn’t even miss him. There is just too much going on on track.

Like the previous race weekend at Silverstone you get three days of fun. Unfortunately I had to work on Friday (again), but I was there early enough on Saturday so I got as much of the action as I wanted.
I watched part of the Blancpain Endurance Series Bronze Test and all of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo qualifying.

Blancpain Endurance - Silverstone 2015
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The #19 Lamborghini Gallardo (X Bionic Racing Team) during Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo qualification on Saturday morning.

As it was even quieter than during the WEC weekend only two grandstands were open and they were never very full at any time. Most of the weekend was cloudy and we even had a bit of rain. The wind was ever-present, but thankfully not at the strength it was during the WEC weekend.
Probably due to the low numbers of visitors the pit lane was open to anyone around lunch time. This time there were no tables with drivers waiting to sign whatever you bring them. In fact, there were no drivers to be seen at all! The teams were working on the cars, so you got to see a working pitlane.

Blancpain Endurance - Silverstone 2015
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Hard at work on the #32 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 (Leonard Motorsport AMR) during the pit walk.

The paddock was open as well and nearby there were some nice cars on display. Obviously I spent most of my time around the two Aston Martins.

On Sunday the qualification sessions for Blancpain Endurance Series took place in the morning and we were treated to four races throughout the day – the last one of course being the main one.
The first race of the day was Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and the Lamborghinis got their race immediately after that one. I have to admit I am very easy to please. Any car race is good for me (there may be a few exceptions to that rule…) and these two races were good fun to watch. I spent most of Sunday on the National Pit Straight grandstand, so I could see a fair length of the track including two corners. There were some wonderful overtakes and I also saw a number of cars limp (or rather: smoke, squeal or rattle) into the pit.

Blancpain Endurance - Silverstone 2015
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The starting grid for the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC race.

After lunch and another pit walk opportunity we got to see the Auto GP race. My god, that was loud!
Since I started watching F1 again I have noticed the large number of complaints about the new cars being too quiet. I honestly do not understand why anyone would say that. I love the sound of a car engine as much as the next petrolhead, but not at a level where it hurts my ears. And that is exactly the noise level we got…with only seven cars on the grid!

When you’re watching races from the trackside it can be hard to keep up with what’s going on. Eventhough I had bought a radio, it unfortunately did not work on the Sunday and I do not know why the Auto GP race was cut short (10 instead of 15 laps). Additionally, it all seemed a bit odd. They started and only six of the seven cars made it off the grid. The seventh car was pushed into the pit and the remaining six formed a new starting grid.
They tried again. And again one of them never made it past the starting line. That one was pushed into the pitlane and the remaining five formed a new starting grid.
Third time lucky: they all started this time and the other two eventually joined them out on track as well. Thankfully the race was a lot more straightforward than the start had been. Despite the small numbers these cars make quite the spectacle, so it was definitely good fun to watch.

Blancpain Endurance - Silverstone 2015
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The #72 car (Virtuosi Racing) during the Auto GP race.

At 14:45 the 3 hour Blancpain Endurance race started. One of the fun things about this series is, in my opinion, the fact they have a staggering 56 cars on the grid, divided into three classes. Yes, that gets messy and that’s just how I like it. After all, I have a preference for endurance racing. You have to keep your eyes open and checking the internet or the Blancpain app does help.
Even without internet assistance I could keep up reasonably well, though.
I suppose the Silverstone circuit is long enough to accomodate such a high number of cars which is why you can maintain some kind of visability as to who is in what position. You just need to figure out which car is in which class.

The downside of a relatively low-profile race is that there was no big screen available this time to allow the public to see the action elsewhere on the track. There were two full course yellows, but I never saw what happened until I got home and saw a highlights video. After watching the video I understood why the #50 Ferrari was running solidly last: they had a crash and the car got quite badly damaged. Kudos to them for finishing the race!

The two Aston Martins in this race were immediately my favourites (I’m biased, of course). One of them (the #32) won in their class.
Von Ryan’s #58 took the win in theirs. It was a very solid run.
I have to admit I was a bit worried about their position at first. They made a pit stop during the first full course yellow. They came out in a much lower position than they had when they made the stop. However, it all turned out for the better and I could clearly seem them running away from the rest.

Blancpain Endurance - Silverstone 2015
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The #58 McLaren 650 S GT3 (Von Ryan Racing) which won in the Pro class.

All in all, it was a fun filled weekend. I got to see several different types of races and so many different cars. There was a lot of beautiful action on the track.
I am seriously considering going again next year.


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