SVG scores surprise Blancpain GT title
Just hours after moving to the lead of the Supercars Championship, Shane van Gisbergen scored an unlikely Blancpain GT Endurance Series title.
Missing the fifth and final round of the BES thanks to his commitments at Sandown, Van Gisbergen watched on via the internet as chaos unfolded at the Nurburgring.
Van Gisbergen’s regular co-drivers Rob Bell and Côme Ledogar were joined by stand-in Duncan Tappy for the final, but endured a horror run.
Starting just 21st, Bell made contact with Marco Bonanomi’s Audi and Daniel Zampieri’s Lamborghini in separate incidents during a wild opening stint.
A later collision involving Tappy and Luciano Bacheta’s Mercedes destroyed any chance of scoring points, seemingly ending Bell and Ledogar’s title hopes.
None of Garage59’s rivals proved able to capitalise, however, as they also struck varying degrees of trouble.
Bentley trio Wolfgang Reip, Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet had entered the weekend just nine points adrift, but saw a bungled first pitstop scupper their chances of a result.
Spa 24 winners Alex Sims and Phillip Eng of Rowe Racing finished just 10th after struggling for speed with their BMW all weekend.
HTP Mercedes drivers Maxi Buhk, Dominik Baumann and Jazeman Jaafar entered the weekend fourth in points and needed a podium to deny the McLaren drivers the title.
They finished an agonising fourth behind the winning Mirko Bortolotti/Rolf Iniechen/Christian Engelhart Lamborghini, Dries Vanthoor/Frederic Vervisch/Laurens Vanthoor Audi and Lucas Ordonez/Mitsunori Takaboshi/Alex Buncombe Nissan.
Garage59’s title had been set up by wins at Monza and Paul Ricard earlier in the five-race season.
“I still can’t believe that we are the champions, certainly not after the way things went today,” smiled Bell post-race.
“I made a small error, and I have to admit that at that point I thought it was all over.
“But somebody once said to me that sometimes you have to win ugly, and we won ugly today.”
Van Gisbergen expressed his delight at the result via social media.
“It was a weird feeling to be fighting for a championship watching a computer screen on the other side of the world, but so stoked to become Blancpain Endurance Series champion with Rob Bell, Côme Ledogar and Garage 59 McLaren GT,” he wrote.
“Congrats all wish I was there to celebrate with you.”
There was also success at the Nurburgring for Australian Liam Talbot, who claimed the Am Cup title along with co-drivers Marco Zanuttini and Vadim Gitlin.
The trio’s seventh place in the race was enough to secure the title, adding to the Kessel Ferrari’s success at the 24 Hours of Spa in July.
Fellow Aussie Matt Simmons completed his BES season with an 11th place finish in the Pro-Am Class alongside Nissan co-drivers Romain Sarazin and Sean Walkinshaw.
— Shane van Gisbergen (@shanevg97) September 18, 2016