The Nürburgring is notorious for its freak weather conditions and – true to its reputation – the Nürburgring’s 5.143 km Grand Prix course in the Eifel hills was enshrouded in thick fog on the Sunday morning of the fifth and final race of the 2016 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. The result: not only the first, but also the second, session of the three-part qualifying fell prey to the poor visibility conditions.
Consequently, everything depended on a good performance during the last qualifying session, where a free round was paramount. The pressure was “water off a duck’s back” for Jonathan Hirschi (CH), Christian Klien (A) and Norbert Siedler (A) in car #114, and they promptly proceeded to scoop up 16th starting position with a 1:59.367 minute lap time. For car #14, however, technical problems and a heavily congested course only rewarded Lorenz Frey (CH), Stéphane Ortelli (MC) and Albert Costa (E) with starting position 36 in the 54- strong field.
Stéphane Ortelli who was behind the wheel at the start of the three-hour race gained a staggering nine places after just one lap and, as the race continued, continued to make good one position after another, briskly advancing towards the Top 20. After around 40 minutes, however, #14 suddenly coasted to a halt because of a technical defect. “The car was extremely competitive today, but we unfortunately had a problem with the throttle response,” summarised Stéphane Ortelli.
By contrast, the race was a breeze for sister car #114. Norbert Siedler defended his top position over the entire first stint before handing over the Emil Frey GT3 Jaguar in 10th place to Christian Klien. Thanks to an ingenious race strategy and timing, and a high-speed final pit stop with handover to Jonathan Hirschi, the faultless trio finished with a well-earned 7th overall position – and their best result of the season.
“At last we can rejoice at a points-scoring result and confirm our vehicle’s potential. Following our 5th starting position at Silverstone and our first-ever leadership miles during the Total 24 hours of Spa Race, our aim was to finish among the Top 10 in the final. That we achieved this goal and clocked up important championship points is thanks to our team’s terrific performance,” concluded Technical Director Jürg Flach.