D’Ansembourg hits back for win in Zandvoort’s second Masters Endurance Legends race
Starting from the back after his Saturday trouble, Christophe d’Ansembourg came through to win the second Masters Endurance Legends race at Zandvoort. Despite strong opposition from Marco Werner in the P2-class-winning Lotus Lola B12/80, the Belgian Lola-Aston Martin DBR1-2 driver soon hit the front and held firm despite a late charge from his German rival.
“It was a struggle because of yesterday’s driveshaft failure”, said d’Ansembourg, “but I couldn’t let Marco get away too far, so I basically overtook all the other cars on the first lap. At the pitstops he was 15 seconds behind, so I was managing the gap, avoiding the kerbs, short-shifting, that’s three seconds a lap. I did a quicker lap towards the end but you still have to be careful with backmarkers. The team were worried because I was losing time but I was managing, I had it under control.”
“It was more about waiting for a mistake from him”, said Werner, “but speed-wise I had no chance. And then I lost time in the pits following Cor Euser in who was slower than was necessary. And he got out in front of me again, so it took me half a lap to pass him – normally the out lap is when you push!”
Craig Davies and Ron Maydon beat their P3 class rivals Stephan Joebstl and Andy Willis to take third overall, as the two Ligier-Nissan JSP3s were split by seven seconds. With their fair turn of speed, the Ligiers managed to stay ahead of the P2-class ORECA-GM FLM shared by James Hagan and Chris Atkinson, as its start from the last row on the grid resulted in sixth place overall.
At one time running third overall, Cor Euser ended up fifth to once again win the GT class in his Marcos LM600evo, as the Dutchman beat Jason Wright’s Ferrari 340 GT2 and Günther Alth’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to the top spot in class. André Hartl did well to haul his invitational Porsche 997.2 Cup up to eighth overall.
Just after 11 o’clock in the morning, the Masters Endurance Legends came out for their second race of the weekend. In hot but overcast conditions, Marco Werner’s P2 Lotus Lola B12/80 was on pole while on the back of his demise on Saturday, Christophe d’Ansembourg would have to come from the back in his V12-engined Lola-Aston Martin DBR1-2. Indeed, the Belgian needed only a single lap to charge his way to second place, albeit still six seconds adrift from the German winner of Saturday’s race.
With those two out in front, Craig Davies and Stephan Joebstl were left to fight over the P3 class lead in their Ligier JSP3s, with Cor Euser once again leading the GTs in fifth. One lap later, however, the Dutchman’s paced proved so strong that he managed to squeeze himself among the Ligiers. Also coming from behind, James Hagan was already up to sixth in the ORECA-GM FLM09, now with one less opponent in the P2 class, as Mike Furness was unable to compete after having found a brake issue on his Courage-Judd LC75. Despite that, the Briton who finished second on Saturday was still reeling about his first podium since 2008!
After four laps, the Lola-Aston had caught up with Werner before going on to lead into lap 6. In third, Davies trailed by some 40 seconds but Euser was unleashed in the Marcos and catching the other Ligier too. Joebstl was six seconds behind the Dutchman now, with Hagan hot on the Austrian’s heels. Jason Wright in the Ferrari 430 GT2 was seventh ahead of André Hartl’s invitational Porsche 997.2 Cup and Günther Alth getting more acquainted with the Zandvoort track in his Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Heading towards the pit window, d’Ansembourg increased his lead to 4.6 seconds but Werner was still beating the leader on time in the twisty second sector of the circuit. Having held off Hagan until it was time for his stop, Joebstl was the first to come in, with Andy Willis taking over the Ligier on lap 10. Davies followed suit on the following lap, with Ron Maydon stepping in for him, the leading Ligier joined in the pits by Alth. The top three all came in on lap 12, with Wright and Hartl electing to pit on lap 13 and Hagan coming in on lap 14 to hand over to Chris Atkinson.
With all the pitstops done and time penalties effected, d’Ansembourg led Werner by 14 seconds as he completed his 14th lap, with Maydon a lap down but chased hard by Euser. Willis trailed the warring duo by 18 seconds but ran two seconds faster than Maydon who now found himself in fourth behind the thundering Marcos. Atkinson was sixth while Wright led the GT chasers in seventh, ahead of Hartl and Alth.
The race wasn’t entirely done, though, as Werner was now lapping around a second quicker than d’Ansembourg whose lead on lap 16 was cut to 11 seconds. Was the Belgian pacing himself or was he nursing an issue with his Lola-Aston? Two laps later, Werner’s deficit had shrunk to 8.5 seconds – and so, with nine minutes remaining on the clock, we had a race on our hands. Not just that, as behind the leading pair, Euser was slowing and soon swallowed by the two Ligiers now split by eight seconds – here was another race going on. Euser continued but his laptimes weren’t what they used to be. He still held a comfortable lead over class rivals Wright and Alth, though.
As the final five minutes approached, Werner was now in visual reach of the leader, 4.7 seconds down, as on the pitwall d’Ansembourg’s FR team were seen looking anxiously at their monitors. On lap 22, though, the Belgian all but matched Werner’s laptime to maintain his advantage at four seconds. Indeed, the next time around, d’Ansembourg popped in a 1.33, to ease out to a 5.1-second lead, and despite the continued worried looks and hand-signalling of his crew, the Lola-Aston looked to have the win in the bag.
And so, after 25 laps, d’Ansembourg crossed the line for victory in race 2, dropping back to a 2.7-second lead on the final lap. Craig Davies and Ron Maydon took another P3 class win in third, one lap down and seven seconds ahead of Willis, while Cor Euser took his second GT class win in two races, heading both Wright and Alth. The Hagan/Atkinson ORECA grabbed sixth while Hartl finished eighth in his Porsche Cup car.
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