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Intense battle for 3rd place, unrewarded for Verdonck

Paul Ricard (France) – 28th June 2014, 3rd round Blancpain Endurance Series

Heavy traffic during the qualifying sessions sent the HTP Motorsport Mercedes SLS GT3 # 84 supported by ALD back into 9th spot, however during the first stint Max Buhk succeeded in bringing it back into 4th place. In the 2nd stint Harold Primat held his own, and produced his best relay of the season.

Darkness was falling on the Circuit Paul Ricard as Nico Verdonck took over the wheel for the 3rd stint. Nico immediately went into the attack and straightaway was up into 3rd place. During a solid hour, and under heavy pressure he remained in the wake of the Bentley and the leading McLaren, whilst at the same time being closely followed by the second HTP Motorsport Mercedes (# 85) and an Audi. It remained an intense battle for this prized 3rd place, but Nico kept up a solid pace. During his entire night stint he had the headlights of the two cars behind him constantly flashing him and glaring in his mirrors, but he never let up. But nevertheless in the final thirty seconds the # 85 pulled off a masterly stroke, having taken advantage of the slipstream managed to overtake the # 84 on the final straight, thereby removing Nico’s hope of the third tread on the podium. The Bentley and McLaren had once again the upper hand.

And yet for the team this 4th place at Paul Ricard remains the best result of the season.

But it is not over yet, because in one month’s time, the Belgian driver Nico Verdonck will be on home ground for the “24 Hours of Spa”.

Nico Verdonck: “Taking into account the heavy traffic on the track, we put up a truly strong fight climbing up through the pack, having only started from 9th place on the grid. My two teammates put in excellent stints, slotting us into 4th place. But that battle for 3rd place was really intense. The cars were extremely close to one another and at any given moment both of us risked going off! On the final straight the # 85 had excellent aspiration and there was nothing I could do without risking a collision and not only losing 3rd, but 4th place also. I therefore preferred not to take any risks and profit from the championship points thanks to our 4th place. It’s also true that the car suffered from a lack of balance in the 3rd sector of the circuit. But the team produced excellent work allowing us to score valuable points in the championship.”

Next rendezvous on 26th-27th July for the most important and longest round of the Blancpain Endurance Series: namely the “24 Hours of Spa”. Nico Verdonck is counting on all his fans to be there to support him!

An event that can be followed live on the Blancpain Endurance Series website: http://www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live.