With a five-way battle for the Blancpain Endurance Series drivers’ title set to take place at the Nürburgring this weekend, the absence of Markus Palttala, Lucas Luhr and Marc VDS Racing is a big loss.
After finishing third in the Paul Ricard 1000 and winning the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Palttala and Luhr left the Ardennes as main challengers of points leaders Stéphane Ortelli and Frank Stippler.
“We never planned to do Blancpain this year, only Spa was our clear target, that was in the deal with BMW,” the Finnish driver told Sportscar365.
“We decided to do Paul Ricard just to get into it, because the tires, rules and pitstops are all different.”
Their convincing win at Spa meant they trailed WRT drivers Ortelli and Stippler, who finished second in the BES blue riband event, by only seven points.
“Of course being second in the standings you start thinking about it, but basically only Lucas and myself were well positioned,” he said.
“We both had to be here at COTA this weekend, and that was it.”
While Luhr and Palttala had prior commitments with BMW in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTLM and GTD classes, respectively, their Spa teammate Nick Catsburg hypothetically could have raced at the Nürburgring this weekend.
However, the Dutchman is not a title contender as he wasn’t part of the Marc VDS Racing lineup in the Paul Ricard 6-hour event.
“We discussed it at Marc VDS, but we had no (other) drivers who could win the championship. So in the end it was simple.
“It could have happened in other circumstances, but there were never serious plans.”
Marc VDS doesn’t only have theoretical shot at the drivers’ crown, the Belgian BMW squad is currently also sharing second place in the teams’ standings with M-Sport Bentley.
“Of course it’s unfortunate when you are second in one of the most important championships, but maybe everybody has problems and we still end up second,” Palttala jokingly concluded.