Bentley Team M-Sport took victory in Saturday evening’s Paul Ricard 1000km, scoring its first Blancpain GT Series win since the same race two years ago.
Jordan Pepper, Steven Kane and Jules Gounon shared the No. 107 Bentley Continental GT3 to come out on top in the six-hour race after Pepper started from M-Sport’s first series pole position.
The race remained in their favor throughout with minimal issues while a number of their rivals hit problems and served penalties.
It marks Bentley’s third win in the Paul Ricard race and first Blancpain GT win since claiming victory in the same race in 2017.
The British manufacturer came close in last year’s running but lost out to the Emil Frey Racing Lexus RC F GT3 on the last lap, and so has had to wait until this weekend to pick up its first Blancpain GT win with the second-gen Continental GT3.
Bentley’s main competition came from the SMP Racing Ferrari 488 GT3, which won last time out at Silverstone, and Orange 1 FFF Racing Team’s No. 563 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, which came to Paul Ricard with the Endurance Cup points lead.
Gounon ran out front for almost all of his final two stints in the darkness at Circuit Paul Ricard, benefitting when SMP served a drive-through penalty for a pit stop infringement which involved the team letting the car down from the air jacks before bringing it back up again while refuelling.
This dropped Miguel Molina down to fourth but he made up positions in the final round of pit stops to run second, a position he held onto until the line.
The winning crew’s only major hiccup came with a slow penultimate stop caused by a wheel gun problem which lost it 14 seconds.
Molina eventually finished 37 seconds behind Gounon, with the Bentley driver taking the win by an unusually large margin.
Marco Mapelli and Marvin Kirchhoefer battled throughout the final stint for third position, with Mapelli eventually coming out on top in the No. 563 FFF Lamborghini after passing the R-Motorsport driver with five minutes to go.
ROWE Racing completed the top five behind Kirchhoefer’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3, putting five different brands at the front of the field with its Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The other M-Sport Bentley finished sixth, meanwhile.
AKKA ASP took the Silver Cup win with its No. 90 Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Felipe Fraga, Timur Boguslavskiy and Nico Bastian from 11th overall.
Jim Pla, Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Mauro Ricci gave the French team a second class win by claiming Pro-Am honors from 23rd position, meanwhile.
The Am Cup win went the way of Garage 59’s Chris Goodwin, Chris Harris and Alexander West, who broke Barwell Motorsport’s four-race winning streak in the all-Bronze class.
RESULTS: Paul Ricard 1000km