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June 27, 2017

Taking the Win and the Championship Lead!

Having just come off of a double win in the Blancpain Sprint Series, I was hoping to carry some of that momentum into the Endurance Series at the Paul Ricard 6 Hour in France.

My performance out the gate far exceed expectations, leading the first free practice session and finishing second in the next session – against 60 cars and 180 drivers.

We had a good feeling about the weekend but didn’t expect to be at the sharp end of the entire Blancpain field. Our aim was to lead our class but we went way beyond that.

Qualifying did not go according to plan though as I made a small mistake on my best lap which cost me Pole Position in Class. After my performance in practice I was hoping to do better, but also knew I could make up for it in the race, I’ve always been a better racer than qualifier.

Fighting Back from a Lap Behind

In a Blancpain six hour each of the three co-drivers are required to race for two hours each. Given my form this year my engineer chose to put me in during the final two hours in order to catch the class leaders.

After four hours we were lying second in class and one lap behind the leaders who were in a BMW M6. Once I got into the car I quickly started eating into the lead at over 3-seconds per lap, eventually unlapping our car and getting on with the business of catching them again in order to get the class lead.

I didn’t leave a stone unturned during my two hour stint. I left it all on the line, even catching and passing some of the factory drivers in the field, it was a huge effort.

With ten minutes to go I was only 15 seconds behind the leading BMW but a technical infringement meant I had to serve a drive through penalty which would potentially cost the race win.

However as I crossed the line in second place it became apparent that the leading BMW had in fact been guilty of a more severe infringement, having skipped one of the 5 required pit stops, therefore handing the win to myself and my co-drivers Marco and Jacques!

This win is the first for me in the Endurance Series and now puts me in the lead of all three Blancpain GT Championships (Sprint, Endurance and Overall).

Our car was perfect and my pace in the race was a dream. I am so happy to have finally won a race in the Blancpain Endurance Series, this is a massive-massive achievement for me. A huge thanks to my team and my co-drivers!

The next race for me is the biggest of the season, the famous Spa 24 Hour in Belgium which will take place on the 29th of July. Last year’s race was the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life but will be much more prepared this time.

Photo Credit: Xynamic

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