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Quotes From SRO Test At Paul Ricard

Marc A.Hayek - #24 Blancpain Racing, Lamborghini Gallardo

“It feels great to be back in the cockpit for a fresh new season. We are here at Paul Ricard getting back up to speed after a long winter and it feels nice to be at a track once more with the Lamborghini and also seeing some many friends once again. The test was good for me and the team. We were getting lots of laps and miles in and it puts us in a good position for the race at Monza next month. I am really looking forward to the new season.”

Laurent Gaudin – Blancpain Endurance Series General Manager

“After a long break it was very pleasing to see all our friends of our loyal teams once again. We also welcomed some new teams and many new drivers to our great series. The anticipation for a superb season of racing is as high as it has ever been and with probably 55 cars at the season opening event at Monza we can look forward to a vintage year of GT3 racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series.”

Yelmar Buurman - #3 Marc VDS Racing Team, BMW Z4

“I have been warmly welcomed in to this great team and I feel very much at home already. Paul Ricard was a very good test for me to gel with the team and with the good weather it was very useful. I have a very warm feeling with the guys in the team and I am sure we can achieve some great things with the Marc VDS Racing Team, BMW Z4 this season.”

Frederic Vervisch - #5 Boutsen-Ginion, McLaren MP4-12C

"It was my first time in GT, and it went very well with the team. I have not driven for almost two years, it is amazing, I am really happy to be here. Yesterday (Tuesday) it was my teammate (Arno)Santamato who did the best time and today it is me. I watched him drive yesterday, as he is very good, so it helped me as it is my first time in GT. And today I am doing the best time so it is better than I hoped so far.

Stephane Ortelli - #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, Audi R8 LMS Ultra

“I have been missing driving in the Blancpain Endurance Series so much so it is nice to be here again with the team. We will be busy this year as we are also racing in the FIA GT Series and Nogaro will be special as we did the double there last year. The updates on the Audi R8 LMS ultra are impressive."

Fabian Barthez - #20 SOFREV Auto Sport Promotion, Ferrari 458 Italia

“My new passion is racing and I love the sensations of endurance racing. The Ferrari is a beast of a car and I am very much looking forward to racing it at Nogaro in two weeks’ time. Today was just an opportunity to get back in to the groove and to prepare properly for Nogaro. I am impatient to get there.”

Duncan Tappy - #11 ART Grand Prix, McLaren MP4-12C

“So far it is all good for us. We have found some good consistency with the car despite struggling to find clear lap with 62 cars here. We are getting good data and good understanding with the updates on the car and the new Pirelli tyres. Working with Andy (Soucek) is great. We know each other from Superleague Formula and work well together. It has all been positive so far and it is great to be back in the cockpit of the ART Grand Prix McLaren.”

Adam Christodoulou - #18 Black Falcon, Mercedes SLS AMG

“My deal with Black Falcon is now confirmed and the testing here is very useful to get to know the team ahead of Monza. I drove the McLaren last year and also have some experience with a Ferrari, so it is going to be interesting to find the limits of the Mercedes this season. Unfortunately our running was cut short after an incident with our #18 car yesterday but we have got some useful laps in today (Wednesday). The team are obviously well proven so along with Steve (Jans) and Klaas (Hummel) we aim to challenge for the Pro-Am title this year.”

Markus Palttala: BMW Z4 GT3 #4

"This has been an excellent two days for us.  We've had consistent dry, sunny weather, which is fantastic for testing.  For the first time this year we've had a good opportunity to go through a program and we did just that.  We've went the right way, the wrong way, searching some solutions for different set up issues but I think we've had a good test.  We have things to try but the time is always running out, we're always running out of time!  Everybody is moulding together and we are agreeing on most things in the team, which means more track time."

Bas Leinders: BMW Z4 GT3 #3

"We are progressing nicely.  We're doing roughly the same lap times as we did during qualifying last year, which is good.  It'll be difficult to go any faster because we don't have a major update - but we have every confidence that SRO and the FIA will find the best solution for every car.  The Marc VDS Racing Team is pretty new to the Pirelli tyre, but everything seems to be going OK and we're learning more every day.  Vallelunga gave us some wet testing, and fortunately here we got some great dry running.  It's obviously a little sad that we're missing Maxime, but we have four other very good drivers we can count on to keep moving forwards."

Peter Dumbreck:

This was our first test with the new specification car. We knew we were going to learn a lot and we have, both bad and good – you make changes that are not necessarily going to be good, but this is what testing is all about. It's been an interesting couple of days and a good chance to get four drivers in the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 for the first time. The car ran fantastically well, with no issue at all during the whole test. There's very little time now before Monza and I think we've had a positive start. We can be very happy.
Steven Kane:

It's great to finally be here testing the new Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 car with JRM. I only had a short run but you can already see that there's good speed and that it's a car we can race with and be fast. It certainly has great potential and the aim this year is clearly to win races. I'm really looking forward to the start of the season – we have an amazing car, a great driver line-up and we're very eager to fight at the top. Now we just need to do our best to stay out of trouble and keep our noses clean at every race and I'm confident we will be very strong throughout the year.
Matt Bell:

My first impressions of the car are very good, it's been a very useful couple of days for me here in France. The Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 is very different to anything I've driven before - I'm used to having an engine behind me rather than in front of me, so getting the hang of the whole weights and the balance took a bit of time for me to get used to during my first outing, but gradually I'm getting to know the characteristics of the car more. I immediately felt comfortable and the car is reliable, which is nice, as it gives you confidence to be able to push a bit more and learn quicker. I've definitely enjoyed it and I'm sure we have the potential to fight for wins this season.
Charles Bateman:

I'm very happy with my first experience driving the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. It's a good car and it feels very strong. This test was a bit of a challenge for me, as not only the team and the car was new, but it was also my first time driving here at Paul Ricard, so I was learning the track at the same time as getting to grips with the car. But it's been a very positive start both for me and the team and I already feel very comfortable. I think we've got a good shot at the Pro-Am Championship and I just can't wait for the season to start!
Nigel Stepney, JRM Team Manager and Chief Engineer:

It's been a solid test. We got up and running straight away. It's a brand new car and we also have a few new team members and drivers, but it’s been a very good start. We got back to work quickly – its a bit of a change from LMP1 to GT3, but it’s a very competitive Championship. We are going to have good competition for sure, and it's not going to be easy by any means, we can see that, but I think we have a strong team and driver line-up and it's all looking very good. We have a very positive base that we're going to build on. This is our first test and our first data from the car, so we've got to learn from zero and get the car up to speed very quickly. It was also our first chance to work with Pirelli and it enabled us to start building a good understanding of the tyres. We've got quite a big learning curve – I know we build the cars for customers, but actually operating a team with a car is actually different. But that's what we've come here to do and I am sure we can do it: we did it with the GT1 and I'm sure we can do it again with the GT3 and have another good season.
We're also very happy with the new driver line-up. They've all done a good job. Charles hadn't been here before, so it was a new car, new team as well as a new track for him, but we gave him a few more laps and he soon got up to speed. Matt was also comfortable in the car straight away and I think it's a good base to build on. We have been able to complete plenty of laps and we are all much more confident.