Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, Silverstone (2016)

Having favourite drivers can bring about good fortune. I may owe some gratitude to Bruno Senna for driving in Blancpain. Even though he wasn’t at Silverstone last year (he had to drive in Formula E instead that weekend) I did go to the race and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only does it have brilliant close racing, it had (note: past tense) several Aston Martins and I was introduced to the joy of the mighty Bentley Continental GT. Needless to say this year Blancpain was very firmly on the wishlist.
The first race of the season was at Monza, Italy. The whole race was a rollercoaster, but the battle for the lead was nothing short of epic. For about 30 minutes the numbers one and two were battling and eventually finished with no room to spare. This certainly got me in the mood for the weekend at Silverstone. But let’s start at the beginning, because there is always more going on than the main event.

It is rapidly becoming customary to walk through the paddock at whatever track I am at. But this time I was looking for something. Word had gotten out that the Aston Martin Vulcan would make an appearance. On Saturday it wasn’t too busy which allowed me time to have a good look at the two Vulcans present. One of them was scheduled to do some demonstration laps on both days. This car is a beautiful beast, no matter what colour it is, but I found this red one particularly striking.

Aston Martin Vulcan
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I have to admit I am not a fan of Lamborghini. This is not an English understatement, so I don’t dislike them a lot either. However, on the track they are truly amazing to watch. They are powerful cars and it shows. It’s a beautiful and somewhat intimidating sight to see a number of them come around a corner and then speed up. The sound isn’t bad either…

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The main race on Sunday was as exciting as I expected, but very strange at the same time. Anyone who has seen it (at the track or on tv) will probably remember the Safety Car. I was at the track and I have since watched the entire race on tv and I still haven’t been able to figure out what exactly happened.
After about 2.5 hours of racing the Safety Car came out due to a car being stranded in the grass very close to the track. That is, in itself, fair enough. You do want the marshalls to be able to do their work in safety.

The grid shortly before the start of the Blancpain race on Sunday.
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The Safety Car let a lot of cars through in an attempt to pick up the race leader. The first thing I noticed was that the Ferrari that was originally picked up by the Safety Car and then told to pass it was going extremely slow. On watching the tv coverage it was confirmed the Ferrari was actually going slower than the Safety Car. It was supposed to speed up and meet the back of the train of cars following the Safety Car. It never did.

Then Race Control announced the Safety Car would come in, but it didn’t. Then again it would come in, and, despite the lights going off on the Safety Car, it once again did not. This did cause confusion as the race cars all started speeding up, but had to slow down again to once again follow the Safety Car. Thankfully there were no incidents at that time.
According to the tv commentators two cars were told to unlap themselves. One of those was the slow going Ferrari, which never did claim its lap back. Very strange indeed.
The car that did take up that offer would eventually win the Pro-Am class.

The very striking ARC Bratislava Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
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I am aware of the rule to let lapped cars unlap themselves in various series, but I can’t say I agree with it. In a lot of cases the cars have been lapped because they are simply that much slower than the cars out front. So the faster cars may have to pass them all over again, begging the question: what’s the point? Another reason I am against this rule is that it in some cases (like in this race) leaves the Safety Car out for a longer period of time. The clue is in the name: Safety Car. It is there to ensure the track is once again safe to be raced on after an incident. Track safe? Safety Car in!

Some will probably argue on I only say that because the one car that did unlap itself ended up winning in its class which happens to be the same class the only Aston Martin is in. That would not be true, because the overtake on both the Aston Martin and the front running Audi was absolutely superb. When it comes to skill the win is very much deserved.
That move happened on the very last lap, race time was up. You can’t get more ‘last minute’ than that.
It was beautiful and I did worry the Aston Martin would end up out of the top three. Thankfully Jonny Adam managed to follow through and took second place. That was also a very beautiful move and a well-deserved result.

A second place in class for Oman Racing Team’s Aston Martin.
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With so many cars out on track in three different classes excitement is practically guaranteed. The rest of this season will be followed with great interest in my house. And next to the Aston Martin we will be rooting for the Bentleys, because they do sound fantastic and it’s hard to believe something that big and bulky can go that fast. A bit like the Astons, I guess…


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