The highlight of the Blancpain Endurance Series 2012 took place on the 7km long track of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. A total of 67 cars were entered by teams from all over the world who wanted to take part in this spectacular event. Naturally the Reiter/Blancpain Lamborghini Gallardo LP600+ was present too ... a team of four pilots took the wheel of the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo LP600+: Marc A. Hayek (CEO and president of Blancpain, CHE), Peter Kox (NLD), Jos Menten (NLD) and Albert von Thurn und Taxis (DEU).
After the various qualifying sessions it became obvious the race would be very exciting, and would feature some very close driving ... twelve cars set a qualifying time no less than one second apart from the pole position. The Lamborghini entered by Reiter Engineering managed to secure a 7th starting position with Peter Kox behind the steering wheel, this meant an impressive fourth row overall between some very strong competition.
The Lamborghini Gallardo LP600+ was entered in the Pro-Am class, were it took a very respectable third qualifying time. Talking to Hans Reiter on Saturday before the race he made it clear this position could possibly been improved during the "super pole" qualifying session planned on Friday when the top 20 qualifying times from the Thursday sessions would go head to head for another shootout, the car was ready, the drivers were ready and the tires were prepared ... and the session was cancelled thanks to the great Belgian weather at that time ... it would be too dangerous to qualify in those conditions so the starting grid remained fixed using the timings from Thursday.
At 16:00 on Saturday conditions were good, the track was dry and the start of the 2012 Total 24 hours de Spa event went perfect ... but it didn't take long for the Belgian rain clouds to visit the Spa Francorchamps circuit again with heavy rain resulting in several accidents that would lead to sixteen exits for the safety car ... and we all know this seriously interrupt the well-rehearsed driving rhythm of these professional drivers.
The race continued however, and the Lamborghini Gallardo LP600+ prepared by Reiter Engineering managed to keep up very well with the top of the group, in fact the Raging Bull managed to secure the pole position in the Pro-Am class several hours in a row, the pilots kept the V10 Bull firmly on the track, which wasn't easy from time to time with the excessive rain ... but after little over 8 hours into the race bad luck struck for the Lamborghini.
The Gallardo LP600+ had to make a pit stop because one of the wheel nuts cracked, the car left for the track again ... only to being forced into another pit stop because a wheel bearing got damaged ... these unforeseen pit stops made the Lamborghini drop to a 22nd position ... but thanks to the massive efforts by the drivers and the team they managed to climb through the pack and reach a very nice 9th position overall by sunrise, this meant a 4th place in their class !
Again the Raging Bull from Reiter Engineering was keeping up with the best of the best for hours in a row, but the stress wasn't over yet, towards the end of the 24 hours Mark A. Hayek took the wheel for the final stint ... only to freak out the team when he contacted them with the rather bad news he couldn't avoid colliding a left over part on the track ... just to make sure it was safe to continue the team made the difficult decision to call the car in for a quick check up ... everything looked fine and the car continued the final laps with a broken front spoiler.
After 24 hours of pushing the limits, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP600+ from Reiter Engineering with number 24 on the sides managed to finish in 11th position overall, 6th in the Pro-Am class with 486 laps of the Spa Francorchamps circuit ... note that the pole position taken by an Audi R8GT did 509 laps in total, only 23 laps more ... which makes the performance of the Gallardo LP600+ even more impressive.
Marc A. Hayek:
“It was a great race with an excellent result, despite our small technical problems and the bad weather. The team did a fantastic job. They were focused and very quick with the necessary repairs”.
“My start was good and I kept up with the top group. Finishing the race was important to us and we succeeded, achieving a fantastic result. We are just a small team and we compete against the other big manufacturers which worked out well. The team did an excellent job and the car was perfectly prepared for the event. Hans (Reiter) was the race engineer and he also developed the strategy. That was perfect and worked well up until the end”.
“Our start into the race was great and we were aware of the fact that we would achieve a good result if we managed to complete the race. We actually had a good chance of a place on the podium and we proved that the Lamborghini is not only able to complete a race but that it can keep up with the other competitors. We lost a few places due to some small things but we will be back next year and then we will be even stronger”.
Albert von Thurn und Taxis:
“It was my first 24-hour race and a fantastic experience. At first, I was a little skeptical. I am not used to sharing the track with and having to overtake so many cars. Doing that without losing too much time is a real challenge. We are able to keep up with the competitors and defend ourselves against the professionals. A 24-hour race is a completely different experience. It is not about pushing constantly but about driving the car at a high pace for 24 hours without overworking it. Hans (Reiter) had a great strategy which the team implemented effectively. A big complement to everyone involved!”
Hans Reiter (team principal):
“It was a perfect weekend for us. I was pretty surprised about the fact that we were able to keep up at such a high level. We were at the top after the first 6 hours which shows our fantastic pace. Neither the drivers nor the team made any mistakes and everybody deserves praise. We had two technical problems which is too bad. However, we will continue working in order to avoid things like that and to be able to win races”.