This marks the last installment of my 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series columns for Sportscar365. With how quick the season has gone by, it’s easy to forget how I got to this exact moment.
Though Nürburgring marks the close to my European campaign for the year, it really symbolizes a lot more for my career in general.
About two years ago, I signed on with Lamborghini as part of their Young Driver Program. Fresh into the sports car scene, I was wide eyed and overwhelmed with how ambitious Lamborghini was for the 2015 season.
As young drivers, we heard intentions of building and running a GT3 car as a factory supported effort, but our focus was on helping Lamborghini in any way that we could, as well as, proving our worth to the company.
It wasn’t until I saw a CAD rendering of the car at a Young Driver Test for the Huracan Super Trofeo, that I started thinking their ambitions might become a concrete reality.
Over the fall and winter of 2014, I eventually had the opportunity to help develop the GT3 car with a select group of drivers who would eventually become my teammates. It wasn’t until January of 2015 that I signed the official contract to drive the new Huracán GT3 in the BES.
Thus, Nürburgring doesn’t mark the end of the season, it marks a chapter in both Lamborghini and my history.
Going into the weekend, we were all riding the momentum of our confirmation of the win in Monza, as well as our eagerness to end the drought of driving during summer break. Though the weekend was just like any else, there was a slight weight I felt to close the season and this chapter for Lamborghini with a deserving result.
The travel in to Dusseldorf was quite standard where my teammate Jeroen picked me up and drove to Nürburg. In my state of jetlag, I was caught a bit off guard when we entered the derestricted autobahn and proceeded to hit 280 kph en route to the track.
Given the condensed schedule of the BES, Friday only requires team meetings and administrative checks. I made use of our late start and inability to keep sleeping to do a sunrise run along the Nordschleife.
For local Europeans this place is another racetrack within driving distance of their home, but for me it was something really special to see finally after all these years.
Saturday finally arrived and business started. FP1 saw the 50 plus car field take to the track for the first time to log some laps.
With this being the last round of the season, teams didn’t hold back and we saw laptimes already as quick as last year’s pole. Our sister car optimized a set of new tires and ended up in the top 5 with us not too far back.
The car was the best it had felt all year and we only made minor changes for Pre Qualifying. With fog in the forecast for Sunday morning qualifying, it was important to lay down a time to make sure we had a good starting position in case qualifying was canceled.
With rain falling as soon as the track went green it became a game of deciding when to go to slicks. Eventually we ended up P5 and felt good heading into Sunday.
Sunday qualifying was certainly not a highlight of the weekend. With traffic hurting us badly in Q3 and rain effecting Q1 we were left with a 39th place start position. However, our sister car was on pole so we knew the pace was there for the race.
Jeroen started and drove a fantastic stint up to 16th. I hopped in after a nice pit stop and began to get into a rhythm.
I was able to work around a few more cars during a traffic packed stint which saw the HTP Bentley hit the wall hard right in front of me going into turn 7 which led to a safety car.
After pit stop cycles, we pitted from P3 overall. Fabio regained in 15th and managed to secure one more spot in a close battle to the end.
Though people may look at this result and think 14th was not the best of outcomes, the race as a whole seems to actually be quite fitting to end the year.
Starting 39th is a daunting task and so to was building the first ever in house Lamborghini GT3 car. Our perseverance and execution lead us to pass 25 cars en route to our top-15 finish.
Every race I enter I intend to fight for the win. When faced with a challenge, we rose to the occasion and performed just was we intended to two years ago when this idea to compete was formed.
Nürburgring marks the closing of a chapter in my racing career. I was able to see a program from inception to realization. I became the first-ever race winner for Lamborghini as a factory supported effort.
I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity by Lamborghini and am eager to see what the future holds based on what we accomplished this year.