Bentley takes podium position again at Paul Ricard
Bentley’s challenge for the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series championship intensified with a hard-fought podium finish at the Paul Ricard 1000 km, the third round of the series.
The #7 Continental GT3 of British trio Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane finished in 2nd place after an exciting six hours of racing, culminating in Steven closing to within 1.6 seconds of the leader in the final stages. Overall points from the race mean that Bentley Team M-Sport now sits atop the Teams Championships for the first time this year, with the drivers of car #7 now second in the Drivers Championship by one point.
Guy Smith, of car #7 commented:
“With the race being over six hours, the most important thing for me was to stay out of trouble, especially at the start, and then try and gain a place or two – which is always hardest at the front! I was pleased with my run and had a great battle with the Bentley Team HTP car – it’s great for us to be fighting them fairly on-track. I finished my stint in 4th place which set us up really well for the rest of the race.”
The second Bentley Continental GT3, the #8 car of Andy Soucek, Maxi Buhk and Maxime Soulet endured a more challenging race, after contact for Maxime in the opening lap put him to the back of field. The team recovered well after the incident, only for progress to be disrupted by a pair of stop-and-go penalties later in the race. However, strong pace and a determined attitude saw the #8 car finish 12th place overall and 8th in class, which was rewarded with championship points.
Andy Soucek, of car #8 said:
“I’m very pleased with my two stints. My pace was good in both and I wasn’t overtaken by a single car. I got the second fastest lap of the race, which is also very satisfying, and the car felt great and had consistent pace. Without the incident at the start I think we would’ve been able to fight for the win the same way that car #7 did.”
Bentley’s Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush, said after the race:
“After some bad luck in the previous rounds, the whole team is ecstatic with the result here. It wasn’t an easy race, but we got the setup of our cars right and came so close to repeating our victory here last year. The last few laps were extremely tense for everyone in the garage, but Steven did what he does best and got the podium. I’m disappointed that car #8 couldn’t join car #7 in the top three, but we’ll review and come back stronger. Our championship challenge is back on-track, and this is a real confidence boost ahead of the most important race of the season at Spa next month. We’re heading from here to the official test session this week to start our preparations, but until then we’ll reflect on what’s been a great race weekend for us.”