6 weekends, 7 races, 4 top-3 finishes including 2 victories!

Kevin Estre - newsletter - 4 June 2014 by Romane Didier
VLN, Nürburgring Nordschleife, 26-27 April and 17-18 May - United SportsCar Championship, Laguna Seca 3-4 May, Detroit 30-31 May - ADAC GT Masters, Zandvoort 10-11 May - Blancpain Endurance Series, Silverstone 24-25 May

Between the end of April and the end of May Kevin Estre strung together six meetings on five different circuits with four teams without a break! While Lady Luck hasn’t smiled on him in the United States the works McLaren GT driver has been more successful in the VLN and Blancpain Endurance Series with 2nd place finishes at the wheel of the Dörr Motorsport and ART Grand Prix McLaren 12C GT3s. Kevin and his team-mates currently lead the Blancpain Endurance Series standings. The Frenchman also drove the GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport Porsche to a telling double victory in a one-off appearance in the ADAC GT Masters.

VLN: the Dörr Motorsport 12C GT3 on the second step of the podium

The VLN Series is certainly one of the most off-beat in Europe given the extreme character of the sole circuit it visits, the diversity of the field and the number of cars it attracts. On a regular basis there are around 200 entries including some 30 cars in GT3, the top category. Estre is racing in this series with the Dörr Motorsport team, which clinched its first top-3 finish of the season in the third round. On the 24,358-km layout combining the North loop and the DTM circuit at the Nürburgring, the Frenchman set the third-fastest time in practice and he did the second and final stints. In the closing stages of the race he fought his way up from sixth to second place reducing the gap to the leader from 40 to 3.5 seconds! The same scenario could have been repeated two weeks later, but the fourth round was stopped before the end. Kevin put the car in the lead at the end of the third lap. The Dörr Motorsport 12C GT3 was in sixth place when the race was red-flagged an hour earlier than originally scheduled.

Blancpain: the ART Grand Prix 12C GT3 leads the most closely-fought series!

Unlike the VLN the Blancpain Series is standardised as it is open to GT3 cars only. Forty-three were at the start of the second round at Silverstone. Against all expectations the time set by Estre in Q2 with more fuel on board on a slower track qualified the no. 99 12C GT3 in sixth place. “I soon got up into third, but I had to wait for twenty minutes to get past the Bentley in the traffic. I caught the other ART GP McLaren of Alvaro Parente before handing over to Kevin Korjus who quickly took first place. In the final hour Andy Soucek had a fifteen-second lead when the race was neutralised. The Bentley closed the gap to six seconds and overtook us ten minutes from the flag. Without the safety car intervention we might have won.”  Estre, Korjus and Soucek are in the Pro Cup championship lead, but it’s all up for grabs as four teams are covered by three points!

United SportsCar Championship: hopes of a top-3 finish dashed in Detroit

Estre and his team-mate Patrick Lindsey had to make do with ninth place at Laguna Seca, but they had high hopes of finishing in the top 5 or even higher in the streets of Detroit. In qualifying Kevin set the tone with third place in the GTD category. “Patrick was fourth when he kissed a wall and tore off the right-hand rear-view mirror. We had to make an extra stop and as the team changed the door very quickly we stayed on the same lap as the leaders. We took advantage of a neutralisation to carry out the only driver change and fought our way up from eleventh to seventh place. Virtually fifth in fact as in front a driver had been penalised and another still had to stop. Unfortunately, on the restart an Aston Martin clipped my rear wheel and I hit the wall – game over!”  

ADAC GT Masters: a victorious one-off in the dunes

At the last minute Kevin added a round of the ADAC GT Masters Series, one of the most competitive national GT championships, to his programme. He teamed up with Jaap Van Lagen at the wheel of a 911 GT3R entered by GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport and he set the second-quickest time in practice. “Both races took place in the rain. In the first I handed over to Jaap with a seventeen-second lead and he was still around ten seconds in front at the chequered flag. On Sunday we were again in first place just in front of the quickest Audi when it was time for the pit stops. I pulled away and won with eight seconds in hand.”

Kevin is now going to race in front of his home crowd in one of the curtain-raisers for the Le Mans 24 Hours. On 14th June around 60 Porsche 911 GT3 Cups from all over the world will invade the big Sarthe circuit. The former French and German Porsche Carrera Cup champion will drive a car entered by the Tsunami RT team from San Marino. He will then be back at the Nürburgring for his first outing in the ADAC 24 Hours on 21-22 June.