Palmer taking the positives from Nurburgring debut at Blancpain Endurance Series finale
Andrew Palmer endured a challenging final round of the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series season to finish 14th in the Pro Cup class and overall at the Nurburgring (September 20).
The 21-year-old Californian, along with GRT Grasser Racing Team co-pilots Jeroen Mul and Fabio Babini, struggled to capitalise on the strong pace of their Lamborghini Huracán GT3 amid challenging circumstances during qualifying and the race.
Saturday’s pre-qualifying session demonstrated the speed that the #19 crew could extract from the car, with the trio achieving the fifth fastest time overall.
However, following several difficult circumstances during qualifying – including rain and a yellow flag period in the first session, and heavy traffic in the second – Palmer and his team-mates were unable to convert their encouraging performance into a representative starting position for the race, ultimately having to settle for 39th place on the grid.
After a strong opening stint from Mul saw the #19 machine climb up to 14th overall in the race, Palmer took the wheel on lap 29 and re-joined in 32nd position. The youngest member of Lamborghini’s GT3 Junior Driver roster then proceeded to slice through the field and was running 16th by the time the first pit-stop phase ended on lap 34.
Despite negotiating some mild handling issues Palmer was able to gain three more places before making way for Babini on lap 54 during a chaotic Safety Car period.
“Track conditions had changed quite a bit between qualifying and the race so I had some understeer to deal with,” explained the Pomona College student, “but I put in consistently good lap times and extracted the most that I could out of the car to maintain track position.
“There was a lot of confusion after the Safety Car came out, so it was difficult to pinpoint the ideal time to come into the pits. Nevertheless, the driver change went very smoothly and the team did a good job with the pit-stop, so we managed to consolidate the progress I had made during my stint.”
Babini continued his co-drivers’ strong efforts, fending off pressure from competitors behind him to come home 14th overall and in class.
“We’ve shown previously this year that we can achieve results at the very front of the pack, so 14th is not ideal for us,” he continued. “Considering that we started from 39th on the grid, however, I think we can be pleased with our performance this weekend.
“GRT Grasser Racing Team has put in a lot of effort throughout the season and worked hard to develop the new car, so it’s been a pleasure to compete for them and Lamborghini Squadra Corse this year.
“As an American, and in only my second full season, it was daunting to come over to Europe and race in a competitive GT championship such as the Blancpain Endurance Series. However, it’s been a very enjoyable season and I’ve developed a lot as a driver, so I’m looking forward to hopefully racing over here again in the future.”
Palmer now returns Stateside to prepare for this year’s final round of the TUSCC North American Endurance Cup. The Spyder Active Athlete, along with PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports co-drivers Mike Guasch and Tom Kimber-Smith, lead the standings ahead of Road Atlanta’s title decider on October 3.