Bentley Team M-Sport made a strong start to its 2015 European season, with the #7 Continental GT3 of British trio Guy Smith, Andy Meyrick and Steven Kane finishing a provisional second-in-class (fourth overall) in the opening round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Italy's famous Monza track. The sister #8 car of new Bentley Boy team Maxi Buhk, Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek fought through the field, overcoming multiple challenges to climb 23 places overall and finish provisional P12 and eighth-in- class, also scoring championship points.
Both cars endured some bad luck during the race, with higher results being limited after cars were forced off the track by slower competitors. However, the result bodes well for the season ahead, and Bentley's Director of Motorsport, Brian Gush, was satisfied with the outcome:
“This is the start to our season that we were looking for. We've spent the off-season focusing on the setup of the Continental GT3, and we're now seeing the results of those efforts. I'm delighted that car #7 has scored some really valuable championship points, and equally impressed by the hard-fought position of car #8. Buhk, Soulet and Soucek had to fight from P35 on the grid after a harsh penalty, and overcame a puncture and some questionable driving from our competition to finish in the points. We'll be aiming to build from here for the next round, our home race at Silverstone."
The Story of The Race
After a very busy morning qualifying session that saw all 59 entrants fighting on-track for grid position, the two Continental GT3s lined up 10th (car #7) and 35th (car #8) for the three-hour race. Guy Smith drove the opening stint in car #7, climbing four places at the start to sit P6 before snatching P5 by lap 10. Andy Meyrick took over from Guy after an hour, driving a solid stint that saw him pit from P7 to hand the car to Steven Kane. Steven immediately set to work, taking P6 before being spun off the track after being hit from behind by a competitor. Fortunately, he rejoined without issue and maintained the place, and was able to finish provisional P4 overall and second-in-class.
Car #8 had a more eventful race, but still managed to finish in the top 10 in class and earn valuable championship points. Maxi Buhk started the race, climbing all the way to P19 in his stint before a right rear puncture forced him to pit several laps early. Maxime Soulet replaced Maxi behind the wheel, and drove an exceptional stint to climb to P10 overall. Andy Soucek took control with an hour left in the race, climbing to P9 early in his stretch. Unfortunately, more bad luck was to hit car #8, after two different competitors forced Andy off the track, costing him places. The eventual, provisional result of P12 overall was sweetened by being eigth-in-class place and so scoring four valuable championship points.