A great performance all throughout the Spa 24 Hours weekend by Black Falcon just wasn’t enough to bring the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of drivers Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz victory. The German squad went into the 24 hours from pole position and was the pace-setter in both the scorching heat of the previous days as well as the downpour during the race, but eventually saw their Porsche counterparts take over as the rain began to easy off on Sunday afternoon.
PRE-QUALIFICATION REPORT | PRE-QUALIFYING INTERVIEW YELMER BUURMAN | SUPER POLE REPORT | SUPER POLE INTERVIEW MARO ENGEL | RACE REPORT: FIRST THREE HOURS | MID-RACE GALLERY | RACE REPORT: MIDNIGHT | RACE REPORT: MORNING | RACE REPORT: FINISH | RACE RESULTS | GALLERY | INTEVIEW KÉVIN ESTRE
Taking home third place does leave Yelmer Buurman with a double feeling: It’s a good result all things considered, but where did the promise from earlier in the weekend go?
“Definitely I’m not disappointed, but for sure I have mixed feelings,” Yelmer Buurman says. “We’ve been fighting for the overall win for pretty much the whole race – we were out there all the time. Because of strategy it didn’t look like that when you’re in P5, P6, but actually we did the 5-minute pitstop quite early so then of course when there are some cars in front who didn’t do the 5-minute pitstop yet it doesn’t look like that, but theoretically you are second because that was the case at the moment.”
Despite losing the race to Porsche crews GPX Racing and Rowe Racing, Buurman considers it a race to be proud of.
“I think everyone did a really good job: The team, AMG, the drivers and for sure my teammates Maro and Luca – we can all be very proud.
“It was a really nice car to drive; well-balanced and a lot of fun to drive. You could also see that at the night in the rain when the times were very strong, but unfortunately towards the end of the race it got somewhat dry in the final few hours and we just didn’t quite have the pace anymore to challenge these guys for the win. That was a shame because I think if it would have been the other way around, if it would have been more dry in the beginning and wet towards the end, then for sure we would have been able to fight them and perhaps take the win.
“In these dry conditions where it’s a bit damp in some places we just didn’t quite have the quickest pace whereas the Porsches did at that point and they were in the position to fight for the win. If they had been P9 or 10 then for sure the gap would have been too big and they wouldn’t have come close, but they were at the right moment at the right time at the right point in the race. Then the conditions came their way and they cracked it.
“We scored good points at the 6-hour, 12-hour and 24-hour mark, so for the championship it’s been a good weekend and I think we all did a really good job so can be proud of ourselves.
“Also, to finish third in the biggest GT3 race in the world is never a bad thing.”
Still in the hunt for their second consecutive Blancpain GT Endurance Cup title, Buurman and team go into the Barcelona finale trailing SMP Racing trio Miguel Molina, Mikhail Aleshin and Davide Rigon with a 22-points margin. The Dutch-German combination outscored the Ferrari drivers during the weekend in Spa but are still facing an uphill struggle with only 26 points available at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
“Our plan will be to do the same as last year and win the race and win the championship but it’s not always that easy so we’ll do everything we can to make the most of it.
“Last year we did a really good job, but you also need a little bit of luck for it to work out in qualifying. If we hadn’t qualified on pole last year then it would have been very tough because Barcelona is a difficult track to overtake and it’s a fairly short race, 3 hours, so you have to be at the front and if you struggle in qualifying with traffic which also happens there with the chicane then it’s very likely that you’re not at the front. You need a bit of luck as well to be able to have a good qualifying and be able to get the race win.”