• Mechanical failure blights latest Blancpain Endurance Series outing • Palmer now hoping for better at blue riband 24 Hours of Spa
Andrew Palmer and the GRT Grasser Racing Team suffered a disappointing end to round three of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Paul Ricard this weekend (June 19/20) after a mid-race mechanical failure resulted in their first retirement of the season.
The #19 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 showed good pace throughout practice in the capable hands of Palmer and his team-mates Fabio Babini and Jeroen Mul, which left the Austrian-based squad feeling confident ahead of Saturday morning’s three qualifying sessions.
Indeed, the team knew there was much more to come from the Pro Cup-entered machine that eventually qualified 15th after failing to optimise its tyres during the decisive Q3 segment.
An unruly beginning to Saturday afternoon’s proceedings prompted race directors to restart the 1000km/six-hour race, before a Safety Car period complicated matters further. Both factors conspired to drop the #19 Lamborghini down the order to 31st, although it wasn’t there for long. Indeed, the car was back up to seventh by the time Babini noticed the first signs of an issue at the end of his opening stint.
And although the problem initially resolved itself, Palmer was the one behind the wheel when the car was forced to retire around the three-and-a-half-hour mark.
“It wasn’t the best weekend for us,” admitted the 20-year-old Californian. “It’s such a shame that our race was brought to an early end as we were running really well and probably had a chance at a top-five finish, at least. That said, it’s better to learn about our issues here than at Spa.”
Despite their disappointing end to the weekend, Palmer – the youngest member of Lamborghini’s GT3 Junior Driver roster – and the team are already looking ahead to the Blancpain Endurance Series’ blue riband event: the 24 Hours of Spa, which takes place on July 21-26.
“I’ve always wanted to drive at Spa,” enthused the Spyder Active Athlete. “It’s a challenging track, but we have data and the test day there so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I love the twice-around-the-clock races like Spa and Daytona because, whilst it can be so difficult to come back from a mistake in the shorter six-hour races, running for 24 hours means that you’re not bound to a strategy. What’s more, driving in the dark often rewards those that are willing to push it that little bit further, which I think Fabio, Jeroen and myself are!”
Palmer heads straight to the famous Belgian track after Paul Ricard for the official 24 Hours of Spa Test Day (June 24) before catching a flight to New York for this weekend’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship round at Watkins Glen where he and the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports squad will be eager to defend their North American Endurance Cup PC points lead.