Image credit: SportscarGlobal.
Bentley Team HTP made a strong recovery at the opening round of the Blancpain Sprint Series at Nogaro/France. After its pair of Bentley Continental GT3s felt victim to a first lap incident in Sunday’s Qualifying Race, both Continentals were right on the pace in Monday’s Main race of Bentley Team HTP´s first Sprint race event.
Maximilian Buhk and Vincent Abril finished the Main Race in a strong fourth place. Jules Szymkowiak and Olivier Lombard had to start from the back of the grid after bad luck in Sunday’s race and finished 14th overall and second in the “Silver Cup” reserved for young talents. “Nogaro was a very challenging event for us, but with a fourth place finish of Maximilian Buhk and Vincent Abril, we had a promising start into the Sprint season”, Norbert Brückner, team principal of Bentley Team HTP said. “The team did a great job, our pit stops were really quick and contributed to this good result. They had but luck during Qualifying Race, but finished the Main Race in second place in the “Silver Cup” and scored important points and their first prize money.”
Both Bentleys showed a strong performance in Qualifying. Buhk/Abril and Lombard/Szymkowiak managed to bring their Continental GT3s into the final round of the three-round knock out Qualifying. Buhk/Abril qualified third, while Lombard/Szymkowiak secured a place on the fourth row of the grid.
A move from a competitor in the second corner at the start of the Qualifying Race the cost both Bentley the chance of a good result. An Audi spun Buhk´s Bentley, and in the wake of that incident Szymkowiak got hit and had to retire the car instantly. Buhk was able to continue, albeit in last position, and started a recovery race. In the second part of the race, Abril continued the strong performance and eventually finished eight.
A brilliant start in Monday’s Main race saw Abril racing in sixth position after the first lap. A flawless pit stop with driver change from Abril to Buhk moved the Bentley up two further positions and after 60 minutes of racing, Buhk/Abril finished fourth. Szymkowiak/Lombard hat to start from the back of the grid after their early exit in Sunday’s race and finished 14th overall and second in the Silver Cup-class, which is reserved for young talents.
Maximilian Buhk: “Our Bentley Continental GT3 was very strong at Nogaro. I did not expect to have a chance to fight for a podium on this particular track. Our speed was better then expected, so we are very happy with the result. We got spun at the start of the Qualifying Race, which was very unfortunate and cost us a possible podium finish. But we fought back and scored some very good points, so I’m quite happy with my Easter trip to France.”
Olivier Lombard: “It was a very tough weekend for me and Jules. Our Qualifying went really well and we could secure a good eighth position on the grid. But then we were caught out at the start of the Qualifying Race. That was a shame, but the team made a great effort and repaired the car for the Main Race, in which we had to start last. We fought and could catch some positions. Still, it was a good learning experience for me, as I could learn the car and tires in race conditions. I now look forward to the next race at Brands Hatch.”