Blancpain Endurance Cup grand finale: Dominik Baumann displays blistering pace in Barcelona

The second appearance of Dominik Baumann in the 2018 Endurance Cup of the Blancpain GT Series was also his last of the current campaign. After the initial collaboration with R-Motorsport in the 24-hour classic at Spa went so well, the Austrian was back in the cockpit of the Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 for the final event of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Together with co-drivers Maxime Martin and Marvin Kirchhöfer, he set out to round off what had so far been a successful debut season in the Blancpain GT Series for the team based in Niederwil, Switzerland. After mounting a strong charge through the field, the trio were in the Top Ten until close to the end of the race, but after a late drive through penalty, the number 62 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 slipped back to 18th place.

Everything went according to plan early on in qualifying. Baumann put in a solid performance in Q1 to put himself in P11 on the leader board. His team-mates continued in similar vein, and it appeared that they had qualified in 14th. However, times posted in Q2 were subsequently cancelled, as they were set while red and yellow flags were out. This decision also affected the R-Motorsport trio. As a result, Baumann, Kirchhöfer and Martin found themselves way down the starting order in 24th. In the race itself, though, the three were in fine form. Until shortly before the end, the R-Motorsport drivers made up 15 places between them before dropping down to 18th place due to the drive-through penalty.

Dominik, how would you sum up the Blancpain GT Series season finale?
Our objective was obviously to finish in the points. Unfortunately, we failed to do that due to the late drive-through penalty. All in all, I’m not dissatisfied, because we made up a lot of ground and the team as a whole and we drivers did a great job. Unfortunately, we had some bad luck at the end with the drive-through penalty; otherwise, we would have been among the Top Ten. But by taking three consecutive poles and winning the race at Silverstone in its debut year, the team has clearly shown what the racing world can expect from R-Motorsport in the future.

You drove the first stint. The start was quite chaotic. How would you describe the first hour of the race?
We started from 24th place after our best time in the second qualifying was invalidated. Our main priority was to get through the first few corners taking as few risks as possible. I managed that very well and gained a few positions. After the first few laps, I just drove my own race. I tried various things, but ultimately we had problems exiting the corners. The car has become increasingly difficult to drive over the course of the season due to the balance of performance. This was particularly noticeable in Barcelona. At the end of my stint, I handed the car over to Marvin in 19th place.

Your team-mates put in a similarly strong performance…
Marvin’s stint was indeed strong. He had some bad luck with the safety car and full course yellows. When Maxime took over the car, he was in the main bunch. He then took the car up to ninth place with a really impressive performance. Towards the end, there was another full course yellow. He slowed down a bit too late to get himself within the maximum speed of 80 km/h. That’s why we were handed a drive-through penalty, which unfortunately cost us a place among the Top Ten.

This was your second outing as a member of the R-Motorsport line-up. Are more planned for next year?
From the very first moment I tested for them, I could see that I was in good hands with R-Motorsport. The entire team works very professionally; they are very down to earth and they are very pleasant to deal with. The atmosphere there is just great. Those are obviously ideal conditions for further collaboration in the future. But there is a long time to go before next season, and it mustn’t be forgotten that I still have another race in the IMSA series driving for 3GT Racing. The partnership with that team also works great, and the guys there are also absolute pros. We still have some time to go before the winter break really begins. That will then be the right time to think about my options.