Enzo Ide was the surprise winner of this year’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, although the Belgian driver believes the potential has always been there and not much has changed except the absence of any setbacks.
Ide experienced a remarkably consistent season with his No. 33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS he shared with Christopher Mies and Robin Frijns, during which he not only scored points in nine out of the ten races, but also claimed four wins and three podium finishes.
“I never thought I would win the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup title because when you look at the entry list, there are a lot of good drivers, with a lot of experience,” he said.
“Ever since my debut in 2010 I never stopped learning and growing.”
In what was arguably the most competitive edition of SRO’s sprint championship, the 25-year-old businessman, the owner of high-end watchmaker Lebeau-Courally, had set himself the goal of a place in the top-ten this year.
“In 2014 and 2015 we took a couple of podiums, but we experienced a lot of setbacks,” Ide said. “We had to start last due to technical problems, got drive-throughs and so on.
“We were already fast, but we just had bad luck. This year we have not received any penalties and we have always been on the podium aside from the first weekend.”
While certainly not being the fastest driver of the field, Ide made the difference by staying out of trouble, picking the right battles and good defensive driving skills.
Since he started racing GT3 cars back in 2010, Ide has been on the podium regularly, with three wins in the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship and one in the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series already behind his name ahead of this season.
“I’m certainly not a full-on professional pilot because I do not have the time for it, but there are many good professional pilots who are not champions,” he said.
“My job lies somewhere else, which means they call me an amateur driver. I have no problem with that.
“But if you are a true amateur in this championship, then it probably will not work out so well for you.”
Although Ide holds the title on his own, Mies played a more than crucial role in his success, setting up and handing over the car in the best possible position.
“Christopher and I are a good match, not only when setting up the car but also outside the racetrack,” he said. “I also had that with Robin Frijns, but every driver has his own methods.
“He is always able to set up the car exactly where it needs to be for us to be competitive. It’s great when you can race alongside someone like that.”
This title might result in Ide being bumped up from Silver to Gold rating, but that would have little impact since he’s already competing in the top class.
Looking ahead, he doesn’t think the title will change his approach, with an identical program most likely for 2017.
“This title doesn’t change my outlook for the future,” Ide said. “My professional commitments will always take priority over my racing activities.
“I’m already glad when I race each season and If I will be able to defend my title here I will be very pleased.”
Ide might add one or two endurance races to his schedule during the winter months, with a return to Sepang or an entry in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with the WRT Audi crew being considered at the moment.