Martin: the fly in Audi’s ointment

4 April 2015

The first day of track action of the 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series at the Circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro saw the free practice sessions dominated by the Audi teams. Only Maxime Martin could get his BMW Z4 in between the gaggle of Audi R8’s.

Overnight rain had made the asphalt in the South-West of France damp and tricky for the first free practice session on Saturday morning. Even though the slippery conditions briefly caught him out, Series newcomer Robin Frijns still managed to clock a 1’25.381 on the Nogaro track, a time which was only three tenths shy of last year’s pole position. The Belgian Audi Club Team WRT driver was followed by four other Audi-drivers, with the #55 Attempto Racing McLaren in sixth.

Conditions for the second free practice session barely improved, even though the track had dried somewhat. Apart from two brief red flag-interruptions – caused by cars stranded on track – the session was largely incident-free.

Early in the session reigning Blancpain GT Series-champion Laurens Vanthoor set a 1’25.740, a time which would not be beaten during the afternoon session. For a long time it looked like Belgian Audi Club Team WRT drivers would occupy the top-4 places, but with just over half an hour to go Maxime Martin decided to have a go with his #77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil BMW. The Belgian, standing in for Series regular Sergio Jimenez, took his yellow Z4 by the scruff of the neck and ended up in second spot, just 0.170 off countryman Vanthoor’s time.

In Silver Cup Olivier Lombard took the #83 Bentley Team HTP Continental to the top spot, while Martin Ragginger was fastest in Pro-Am, at the wheel of the #911 Fach Auto Tech Porsche.

Sunday’s programme in Nogaro sees qualifying at 9:30 and the qualifying race at 14:15 CET.