© Ryan Ratcliffe 2017
Produced by Abbott Designs Ltd
BLANCPAIN SPRINT SERIES -
Double podium delight for Triple Eight
Ryan Ratcliffe and Joe Osborne had a successful debut weekend in the Blancpain Sprint Series at the final round of the 2014 season, the Baku World Challenge in Azerbaijan. The BMW duo secured second place in both 60-
The format of qualifying for the weekend required both drivers to post a time, the combination of which would be used to calculate the start position for Sunday’s first race. Ratcliffe was first out and quickly acknowledged further changes were required, but set a time (1:36.989) competitive with the Silver Cup rivals the team were pursuing this weekend, resulting in P26 overall.
Osborne looked good for a top-
The wet and greasy conditions of Saturday disappeared overnight and the Azeri capital looked resplendent in the morning sunshine. With much of the road circuit surrounded by stands full of keen locals, the atmosphere was electric for the qualifying race.
On track, there was plenty of action at the front as rivals hopped over the chicanes, straight-
On the approach to turn four on the first lap, the British ace passed David Fumanelli’s BMW on the outside and quickly found himself braking into an ever-
A lengthy safety car period was required to clean up the mess, but Osborne continued despite missing a left wheel fairing and the battered BMW soldiered on before being given a drive through penalty for involvement in the contact.
At the pit stops Welsh racer Ratcliffe took over and had a clean stint in what turned out to be a relatively lonely race to seventeenth at the flag, second in class.
The Main race took place just after lunchtime in Baku, and the 60-
Ratcliffe was driven into by Alexey Vasilyev, suggesting the Welsh driver has a magnetism for Russian GT drivers after being disposed of in the Silverstone round of the Blancpain Endurance Series earlier in the year too. The BMW was clearly damaged with the under tray and rear fairing broken, and some parts of the bodywork rubbing against the right rear tyre, generating worrying smoke.
Showing grit and determination, Ratcliffe got his head down and climbed to eighteenth, importantly keeping second place in class. Try as he might, the Groundhog-
At the end of the sixteenth lap, Ratcliffe pitted from 20th place to hand over to team-
Straight out of the box Osborne delivered a 1:32.9 and kept apace with the overall race leaders who exited the pits ahead of him. A spin for the Corvette of Daniel Keilwitz and a retirement for Miguel Paludo’s BMW gave Osborne ample opportunity to progress, that he did, moving up to seventeenth on track after six laps in the Z4.
A game of cat and mouse evolved during Osborne’s stint, with the British ace fighting to first catch, and then pass ex-
With a damaged car there was little Osborne could do to overcome the GT Russian Mercedes and he settled into his stint, picking up places as those around him made errors and took unnecessary risks.
Osborne looked set to take fourteenth with one lap to go, but Christopher Mies’ retirement at the final corner gave the Triple Eight racer thirteenth and ensured a second successive runners-
“It was a good debut weekend for the team in the Blancpain Sprint Series, but I think we wanted to deliver more than just a respectable performance. We were getting quicker and quicker as the weekend progressed, but we didn’t have the setup required to keep pace lap after lap. Contact is always regrettable, but in race one I definitely felt the Mercedes on my left gave me nowhere to go. The second race was better, but the car wasn’t handling properly after Ryan was hit from behind on the first lap. Had we got a better qualifying performance, I don’t think we would’ve been in those situations and we might’ve left Baku having achieved some overall top tens, which was my goal before the weekend. Overall though I really enjoyed the weekend and my first street circuit race.”
“It’s been a good weekend, but a really tough learning curve for me. I’m super happy with my performance as I feel I came on leaps and bounds with the car this weekend and my confidence on the circuit has grown and grown. Joe and I had decent pace, certainly good enough to challenge for the class win, but unfortunately not everything can go your way all the time. But, for our first appearance in Blancpain Sprint and our first-
Follow Triple Eight on Twitter @888official to get the lowdown.