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ABRIL: Misano Debrief

Vince Abril makes his Sportscar365 debut, files Misano column…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

It sounds a bit cliché but, even though we stood on the second step of the podium this weekend, it feels like we won.

The Bentley Team M-Sport crew took the challenge to the pack of Mercedes-AMGs (that had dominated all weekend) and passion, determination, precision and team-work gave us a result that far exceeded our potential.

At the start of 2017, I switched to the No. 8 Continental GT3 to drive alongside Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek in Bentley’s endurance race events. I really really enjoyed my season with Guy Smith and Steven Kane in 2016 but its a new challenge that I’m looking forward to. 

For the Sprint Series Cup, however, I am sticking with Kaney in car No. 7 and I couldn’t be happier.

We learned a lot last season, as a team and driver pairing, and it’s good to be able to continue that progress in 2017. The aim is clear – we want to take the Sprint Series Cup title.

Winning it in 2015 was the most incredible experience of my life but to do it with the Bentley Motorsport works team would be a dream come true.

So, anyway, we turned-up at Misano with one goal in mind – take maximum points – and, as far as I am concerned, it is mission accomplished.

The Bentley is a fantastic car but the Mercedes had been way faster all weekend.

On paper we shouldn’t have beaten any of them, but our driving, pit stops and strategy gave us the best result that our car could give us.

As a team, we feel like we over achieved and there is no better feeling coming out of a race week end knowing you gave it absolutely everything.

We started the qualifying race from ninth, Kaney handed to me from seventh and I crossed the line in third (after penalty was given to a Mercedes in front).

So, when I started the main race I had the lead in my sights. To be honest, I reckon I could have taken it on the first lap (and I tried) but the leader was on new tires so he could have easily challenged back – I would have risked our car by getting into a battle with it so early on. I played it cool, held my position and Kaney exited the pits in second place.

It’s hard to make a stand-out performance when every member of your team operates at the highest level all weekend but my Bentley team-mate Steven Kane did just that in his final stint at Misano.

He gave a masterclass in holding-off a car with a lot more speed and, as well as being nail-bitingly close, it was a joy to watch.

I guess my final words are that sometimes we focus so much on the BoP and performance of the car that we forget that anything is possible if your team is made-up of the best in the business and has that grit-determination to fight to the end.

I can’t wait to do it all again at Brands Hatch in May.

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