For the first time in his short career, Benjamin Lessennes was at the start of the Total 24 Hours of Spa last weekend. At only 21 years of age, the young man from Namur came to reinforce a crew competing in the GT World Challenge Europe with Boutsen Ginion Racing. At the wheel of a BMW M6 “Art Car” that did not go unnoticed, and the Belgian immediately made a name for himself in the GT3 world.
The challenge was considerable! From the launch of the BMW M6 GT3 “Art Car” project to the finish of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, Benjamin Lessennes took up that challenge with vigour. “Thanks to Alain Noirhomme and Boutsen Ginion Racing, I had the opportunity to be involved in this project from start to finish,” smiles the young Belgian. “So to see the finish of an exceptional edition of the 24 Hours of Spa, finishing 5th in the Pro-Am category, gave me great satisfaction. First of all, I would like to thank all those who made it possible!”
With the car’s livery signed by New York artist Peter Halley, the BMW M6 GT3 of the Belgian team was certain not to go unnoticed. In addition to Benjamin, the three drivers who usually compete in the Endurance Cup of the GT World Challenge Europe were at the wheel: Saudi Karim Ojjeh, Frenchman Gilles Vannelet and German Jens Klingmann, official BMW Motorsport driver.
“Reaching the finishing line was already a first victory, because the conditions were so difficult,” confirms Benjamin. “The number of withdrawals due to crashes confirms it! As far as I am concerned, I did my first stint at night, when a few drops of rain started to fall. With the exception of the 25 Hours VW Fun Cup a few years ago, I had never raced twice round the clock. I was certainly thrown in at the deep end.”
After three very good double stints, Benjamin punctuated his work with an extremely good last run at the finish. “I immediately felt the rhythm,” he smiles. “I was able to drive in the dry, on a drying track and in the rain. We will analyse all the lap times and see how I still have to improve, but my engineer told me that most of the time I was among the ten fastest on the track. Given my lack of experience in GT3, I was pretty satisfied. I spent more than seven hours behind the wheel and physically I did not think it would be so difficult. I have congratulated myself several times for sticking to my physical preparation programme to the extent that it clearly helped me a great deal. My only regret is that I was hit by a Porsche in the last hour and sent into the gravel for a few moments. As the 911 driver was penalised, it reassured me that I was not guilty and in the end it did not affect our classification. So the balance is more than positive.”
Third in the GT4 European Series in 2019 and currently leading the French FFSA GT Championship, which will end on 7 and 8 November in Lédenon, Benjamin has amply proved that he has earned his place in GT3. “I enjoyed driving this 550-horsepower car so much,” he says. “And I must admit that these 24 Hours of Spa make me want more!”
Benjamin, his entourage and the young Belgian's partners, are already focussing on the 2021 season!