For a long time, the Dutch/Belgian combination of Paul van Splunteren, Maxime Soulet and Dylan Derdaele appeared to be on course towards a podium finish in the Pro-Am category during the Blancpain Endurance Series’ season opener at the Monza Grand Prix circuit. With the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Belgian team ProSpeed Competition, sporting the NEC colours, the trio ran in the top three in atrocious weather conditions, but loss of time during a pit stop and a set-up of the car that wasn’t the best when the track slightly dried out in the final hour of the race were the reason that Van Splunteren, Soulet and Derdaele eventually were classified fourth in the Pro-Am class.
With no less than 55 entrants, the Blancpain Endurance Series’ season opener had a very strong field, but the drivers certainly had hoped for better weather at Monza. Due to exceptionally heavy rain, the clerk of the course opted for a start behind the safety car, which led the field for almost half an hour. Once the race officially got underway, Maxime Soulet, who took the first turn in the Porsche 911 GT3 R with starting number 74, moved up to first place in the Pro-Am class, However, some time was lost during the pit stop. Dylan Derdaele was the second driver behind the wheel, after which Paul van Splunteren was allowed to drive the Porsche across the finish line.
During Van Splunteren’s stint, the intensity of the rain slightly decreased and the track dried out a little bit as a result. For these conditions, the chosen set-up of the Porsche turned out not to be ideal. “In the past two years, we didn’t have a lot of track time with the Porsche in the rain, so we lacked experience with the current specification of rain tyres in such a situation. At a certain point, you opt for a set-up which worked great with a lot of water, but less when the track started to dry out. As a result, we just missed out on a podium finish, but we have managed
to control damage by finishing fourth in the Pro-Am class and tenth overall in such a huge field”, says Paul van Splunteren.
The next Blancpain Endurance Series round, again with a duration of three hours, will take place at the circuit of Silverstone in Great Britain, June 3rd. “There, we want to make up for missing out on a podium finish at Monza”, Van Splunteren announces.