|Blancpain Qualifying at Silverstone.
As I sit here writing, the sound of sixteen Lamborghini V10's fill the air. I am forced to look up as one of the cars comes bumbling down the pit lane, on the limiter and parks just under my seat in the media centre. I am at Silverstone, I am home.
The reason for my visit, the Blancpain Endurance Championship, will not get underway until 12:45 so I get the chance to enjoy a little relaxation, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Blancpain Lamborghini SuperTrofeo. At 10:30 ill trot off down the pit lane and attend, "An Audience with Adrian Newey". River Pagent? Im at a proper pagent, a pagent of power.
I'm looking forward to this, what with covering F1, ELMS, ALMS, WEC, GT1, GT3, Blancpain, BTCC and more, my time is precious. Especially as it is not my main breadwinning occupation. The fine folk at the SRO have allowed me my first, live at the races, raceday of 2012.
First impressions, bearing in mind that my only other experience of media hospitality at Silverstone is the Britcar 24 Hours from last year, are favorable. No offence to Steve Wood and the Britcar team, but the whole setup is just a bit more spit and polished. Maybe it is because the SRO guys are used to organising European and World Championships, while Britcar fills the most important role, giving access to the sport. The 24 hours, while a blue riband event for Britcar, is still a clubby, Blancpain is serious business.
In fact the only problem I have so far encountered, other than a dodgy wiper blade on the RRmobile, (you cant blame the SRO for my poor maintenance) is a distinct lack of coffee in the press room. Ohh well, paddock cafe here we come.
Looking at the reason for being here, and thanks to a hectic work schedule, followed by the Toddington Jubilee Parade means that I missed the qualifying session, I was a bit too asleep! Pole positions then.
Pro pole went to the BMW Z4 of Franchi, Carol and Kechele. The Vita4One machine lapped in an impressive 2:00.331 taking pole by a massive (he he) 0.266 seconds. Not saying that a fully pro lineup requires a German machine to do its job but second place went to the #3 MarcVDS machine of Markus Palttala, Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin. Then there was a happy sight, British metal doing well at the home of British Motorsport, third in the Pro class, United Autosports. An AngloAmerican team with proper British machinary, the McLaren MP4-12c GT3.
In the ProAm class it was better news still as the McLaren took the top spot care of Demoustier and Tappy. The ART Grand Prix team put in a 2:00.564, good enough for second on the combined grid. Second in the class was the Gulf Racing UK mahcine of Wainright and Bell, also a McLaren. Next up was the SAINTeLOC Racing Audi R8 of Demay, Sourd and Gilvert, making up for the disapointing results of Navarra a week ago for the team.
There is bad news mixed with the good though. The Jaguar, the XK GT3 by Emil Frey Racing, which was set to make its debut here at Silverstone will not be taking part. Lorenz Frey was at the wheel of the car in the first session, the hour for Bronze drivers which starts a Blancpain weekend, when a puff of smoke prompted the driver to pull of and switch off. Unfortunately, the problem was a blown engine and with no spare, the car was retired.
There are also doubts about a couple of other cars but we will update you later in the day on the progress of these machines. For now though, coffee, then the Audience with Newey. Don't worry Your Majesty, we are having a properly British day for you, the weather is terrible.