One year after claiming the Blancpain GT Endurance title with Nissan GT Adacemy Team RJN at Nürburgring, Wolfgang Reip is back and in a position to defend his crown following a strong debut season with Bentley.
The 2012 Nissan GT Academy European Champion was picked up by the British manufacturer and was immediately competitive behind the wheel of the No. 8 Bentley he shares with fellow countryman Maxime Soulet and Spaniard Andy Soucek.
“It was a big change for me to come from Nissan to Bentley,” Reip told Sportscar365.
“The expectations are obviously much higher at Bentley. At Nissan, even after two years, they were still looking at me as a product from the GT Academy.”
Although the No. 8 Bentley has yet to win an Endurance race this season, they have come very close on a few occasions, especially at Paul Ricard and Spa.
By scoring good points at every round except Silverstone, the Bentley Boys are now trailing Garage 59 McLaren drivers Rob Bell and Come Ledogar by only nine points.
The 29-year-old Belgian is now in a position to become the first driver to become a two-time consecutive Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup champion.
“We’ve shown again that the team is very strong and the car as well, but we’ve been very unlucky in the two main races of the season,” he said.
“Without the problems and mistakes we would be leading the championship by far. It’s a bit frustrating, but positive because we know that the package has always been very good.”
Spa showed how strong the Bentley was, although the No. 8 car missed out on the win due to various issues.
“We finished fourth, one lap behind the winners and we lost four laps with four drive throughs, two punctures, and two mistakes with the pitstops,” Reip said.
“We had a lot of debriefings with the whole team. We analyzed everything that happened, all the mistakes. What happened at Spa will never happen again.”
Bentley only narrowly missed out on the Blancpain GT Endurance title in its first two attempts, but once again it is presented with another good opportunity.
“We’ve put ourselves in a tricky situation,” he said. “We have only one target and that’s to win the race, that’s the only option to secure the title and McLaren has to finish third.
With Nürburgring being known for its changing conditions, the weather could very well play an important role today, especially for the Continental GT3.
“We really hope it won’t rain, because rain is not our friend. The McLaren, Mercedes and Audi are flying in the wet,” Reip said.
While Bentley is fighting for the top honors once again, Reip’s previous employer is currently struggling to be competitive.
“I don’t know what’s going on at Nissan right now, I have no idea,” he said.
“I think the BoP for the GT-R is not as good as it was, the title might have played a role in that. You can’t win this championship if you have a bad BoP.
“In motorsport in general luck is always part of the result, but the interesting thing at Bentley is that every year they are fighting for the championship. Even with a different BoP and it’s still the same car.”
As 2016 has proved to be a good year in the further progression of Reip’s career, he’s hopeful he will be able to continue to write his next chapter with Bentley.
“All I can do is the best I can here, and then we’ll see. I should know more in the next few weeks.”