Unquestionably among the favourites for the French FFSA GT Championship, Benjamin Lessennes and his team-mate Ricardo van der Ende have largely assumed their status since the beginning of this 2020 season. At Magny-Cours, the duo from L'Espace Bienvenue was not the fastest. And yet, with a 3rd place on Saturday (and 2nd in the Silver Cup) then a victory on the wire on Sunday, they are the big winners of this weekend in the Nièvre.
By taking three Silver Cup victories (plus one overall) in Nogaro, Benjamin Lessennes had begun his collaboration with L'Espace Bienvenue and Ricardo van der Ende perfectly. At Magny-Cours, the 21 year-old from Namur and his Dutch team-mate continued in the same vein.
“Above all, I am very happy to have been able to offer a third place and another victory to André Grammatico, the team boss,” Benjamin says with delight. “However, we were not the fastest over one lap this weekend, as our 2nd and 7th positions in qualifying practice prove. But in the race I think we fought well with the weapons we have.”
On Saturday, during a 60-minute night race, Benjamin took the wheel for the second stint and the Belgian driver managed to hold on to third place, which was his position when he went out of the pit lane. “It was great to drive at night and good preparation for the Spa 24 Hours,” he smiled. “It was impossible for us to win, but this third place, with the points for second place in the Silver Cup, was very important.”
On Sunday, Benjamin took the start from 7th position on the grid and he was immediately in the thick of it. “I attacked quite hard for a few laps and I finally took 4th place,” he says. “Then I tried to preserve the tyres. When Adrien Tambay came back at me, I did not resist and I preferred to continue at my own pace. After the driver change, Ricardo climbed back up to 3rd position. We thought we would finish in that position again, as on Saturday, but a Safety Car with less than ten minutes to go changed everything. The gaps were reduced and my team-mate came out like a wildcat jumping on his prey. The fact that we had saved the tyres was decisive. We received a boost from fate with the Safety Car coming out on the track, but we were ready to take advantage of it.”
With four wins and a second position in five races, Benjamin Lessennes and Ricardo van der Ende lead the championship in Silver Cup by a large margin. “We benefit fully from the work of the L'Espace Bienvenue team and the experience gained with Ricardo in 2018 and 2019,” Benjamin says excitedly. “The atmosphere is excellent, our BMW M4 GT4 gives us total satisfaction and the results follow. We are going to do everything we can to keep the momentum on the Circuit Paul Ricard, at the beginning of October!”
Before that, at the end of September, Benjamin will take part in the two test days for the Spa 24 Hours in the BMW M6 GT3 Art Car of Boutsen Ginion Racing. It will be a new adventure which we will tell you about very soon!
Photos : SRO / Dirk Bogaerts