Baptism of fire for R-Motorsport: At the same time as the team was making its DTM debut at Hockenheim, it was fielding two Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3s in the two opening races of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. The team went into the first race weekend at Brands Hatch with two new driver pairings. Ricky Collard and Marvin Kirchhöfer in the number 76 car were on impressive form, securing two Top Ten finishes. Aaro Vainio and Hugo de Sadeleer also gave a good account of themselves in the number 62 sister car.
Already in qualifying both driver duos asserted their presence in the 26-strong line-up of GT3 sports cars. Ricky Collard and Aaro Vainio qualified the two Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3s for the first race in P9 and P12 respectively. In qualifying for the second race, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Hugo de Sadeleer booked fourth and tenth on the grid in the Top Ten.
In the first race, the crew of the number 76 Aston Martin converted the quali result into championship points. Collard gained two positions on the opening lap of the one-hour race and maintained his Top Ten slot until the driver change. After the pit stop, Kirchhöfer initially dropped back to eighth. But in the closing stages, the German moved back up to seventh place and then defended against enormous pressure from Audi driver Frédéric Vervisch.
Collard and Kirchhöfer gave further proof of their excellent form in the second race which was characterised by intense jostling for position. Kirchhöfer stayed in touch with the leading group through to the pit stop, handing the car over to Collard in fifth place. The Brit lost one position at the stop and subsequently mounted a furious pursuit. After a lively tussle with Audi works driver Kelvin van der Linde, the number 76 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3 crossed the finish line in fifth place.
Newcomers Hugo de Sadeleer and Aaro Vainio in the sister car also delivered a top-class result at Brands Hatch with a strong showing in both races. They were involved in wheel-to-wheel contests with the opposition, crossing the finish line in P11 on Sunday, which was enough for third place in the Silver Cup.
The two rookies, who were contesting their debut race for R-Motorsport in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, made it onto the podium in the Silver Cup at only their second attempt. A potential Top Three finish in the Junior class on Saturday was thwarted by a technical fault on their car.
The Swiss racing team will be back in action next weekend (11th – 12th May) when Silverstone hosts the second round of the Endurance Cup forming part of the Blancpain GT Series.
Ricky Collard, driver #76 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3: “The weekend was by no means an easy one for us, but we made the most of our chances. We managed to steadily improve over the course of the weekend. P5 can be seen as a success, considering that this was our debut in the series. I’d like to thank the whole team for their hard work.”
Hugo de Sadeleer, driver #62 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3: “I’m really happy about this result. We worked hard for the whole of the race weekend to keep improving our pace. There is still a lot to do, and everyone is aware of that. But that was an important step forward on our first race weekend.”
Florian Kamelger, Team Principal R-Motorsport: “This was a really special weekend for R Motorsport. At the same time as we were making our DTM debut, we were also competing for the first time in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. Despite having new driver pairings and a race format that was new for us, our team has done very well. Fifth place in the general classification for Marvin and Ricky counts as a successful debut. I was especially happy about the podium finish for Hugo and Aaro in the Silver Cup.”