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Five-Way Battle for Blancpain Endurance Crown at Nürburgring

Four of the six BES titles still up for grabs at Nürburgring finale…

Vision Sport Agency/SRO

Vision Sport Agency/SRO

Stéphane Ortelli and Frank Stippler head into this weekend’s GT500 as favorites for the Blancpain Endurance Series title, but with five cars still in with a shot, there’s still everything to play for in the Eifel Mountains.

The two sports car veterans got off to a strong start by finishing fourth at Monza and third at Silverstone in their Belgian Audi Club WRT Audi, and while scoring zero points in the Paul Ricard 1000, they further improved in the Total 24 Hours of Spa by claiming second.

With the absence of Spa winners Lucas Luhr and Markus Palttala, the ROWE Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Stef Dusseldorp and Nico Bastian will be their nearest challengers.

The Dutch-German duo retired at Spa, but scored maximum points at the six and 12-hour marks, resulting in a deficit of 8 points while there are still 25 up for grabs.

This means Ortelli and Stippler, rejoined by Stéphane Richelmi this weekend, will need to come in second if they wish to secure the title regardless of where their rivals end up.

Paul Ricard winners Alex Buncombe, Katsumasa Chiyo and Wolfgang Reip are 9 points down on the leaders and only 1 point behind the ROWE Mercedes, leaving the No. 23 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN car as another serious contender for the fifth Blancpain Endurance crown.

While not impossible, it will be a much harder task for the two remaining candidates.

The No. 7 Benltey Continental GT3 of Andy Meyrick, Guy Smith and Steven Kane will need to overcome a 15-point deficit, while reigning champion Laurens Vanthoor and his teammates Robin Frijns and Jean-Karl Vernay face a gap of 20 points on their WRT colleagues.

All the aforementioned teams are also in the running for the teams’ title, but in this case the M-Sport Bentley squad will be the closest challenger to WRT (+9 points), while the GRT Lamborghini team also still has an outside chance (+19 points).

The Pro Am Cup drivers’ title was already settled after the 24 Hours of Spa, as AF Corse drivers Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron established an insurmountable lead on the Kessel Racing Ferrari of Michael Lyons, Michael Broniszewski and Alessandro Bonacini.

AF Corse meanwhile has a monstrous gap of almost 50 points on the Leonard Motorsport AMR, GT Russian and Kessel Racing squads, who will battle for the runner-up honors in the teams’ standings.

After a dominant showing at Spa and scoring the maximum amount of points, Team Parker Racing and drivers Ian Loggie and Julian Westwood are currently in pole position in the Am Cup, but they’ll face stiff competition from Glorax and Attempto Racing.

Vincent Wouters (@VinceWouters) is a Belgium-based sports car racing reporter, providing coverage primarily of the Blancpain GT Series.

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