Nick Foster ended the fifth round of the Blancpain GT Series with a pair of top eight finishes, as the grid battled at Misano in the series’ second World Challenge Europe event.
With a broken driveshaft, the Australian didn’t get to run on Friday. The team made repairs with an additional gearbox change and teammate Steijn Schothorst set a 1:35:267 to put the R8 in P17 for the weekend’s first race. In just Nick’s first ever visit to the Italian track, with no Friday running, he set a 1:34.667 to slot the #55 Audi into P16 for Sunday’s race.
At the start of race one, Steijn lost out to the #7 Audi and tucked into P18. But as the race begun to settle, the Dutch driver begun to chase down those ahead and had swiftly moved up into P13.
With the #2 spinning into the gravel, a safety car was brought out. When the track returned to green flag conditions, Steijn maintained P13 before promoting to seventh place as the first bunch of pit stops were made.
At the half-way mark, Steijn pitted the #55 and Nick returned to the track in P16. With 23 minutes left to run, Nick slipped in behind the #66 and #17 pair of Audis, before making a move on the latter at turn three to move into P12.
After another safety car to remove the beached #26 Audi, Nick had moved into the top ten. With the #11 running wide and a Mercedes making an unscheduled stop, the #55 elevated into the top eight. Nick finished the race as the second highest Audi in eighth overall and seventh in class.
Nick started race two on Sunday and immediately set to work. In just six laps, he had elevated into tenth place, before sneaking passed the #56 Audi to move into ninth.
While battling for eighth place with the #62 Aston Martin, Nick and the sister Attempto Racing car of Kelvin van der Linde tangled, sending Nick wide at the final corner. He returned to the track down in P18 and with debris on the track, a safety car was brought out.
In quick succession the safety car came in, the track went green and the pit window opened resulting in a flurry of pit-stops. Nick however, stayed out and set multiple rapid laps before pitting from fourth place with just over 25 minutes left to run.
Steijn re-joined in P15 and after others made their mandatory stops, the #55 had found its way back into the top nine. However, the 24-year-old made a late move on the #10 Audi to move into eighth overall and sixth in class.
Nick concluded the weekend with two stunning recovery drives to finish in eighth place on both occasions, having had no Friday running at a brand-new race venue. The World Challenge Europe continues in two weeks’ time at Zandvoort, before the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup grid heads to Spa for the famous 24-hours at the end of July.
Nick Foster: “I think we really made the most out of what was possible. The early dramas in the weekend with the gearbox change and the driveshaft issue basically lost us all of practice, in a new track for me. So, to roll into qualifying in what was my first laps of the circuit and match all my teammates who are all comfortable with the car and the track, I think we did a really good job even though it wasn’t an ideal grid slot.
“The races were good, we battled hard and we had good race pace and went forward in both races. Race one, I think we maximised what we had with where we finished, in race two I think we maybe had a shot at the podium, and at least a chance at the top five. Unfortunately, that was taken away from us, which is disappointing, but it is what it is. We came away with two top tens and some good championship points. Where we were at the start of the weekend and what we came away with, it was a positive weekend; it could have gone a lot worse, though we also leave wondering what could have been? But, we look forward to the next one, our eyes are on the Spa test now and then we have one more sprint race at Zandvoort before the big Spa 24-hours. I’m really looking forward to both.”