Lucas Luhr geared up for next month’s 24 Hours of Spa with his second podium finish of the season for BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS thanks to a stunning comeback drive in round three of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Paul Ricard on Saturday evening.
Incredibly just 10 seconds separated Luhr and co-drivers Markus Palttala and Maxime Martin from overall victory after battling back from starting in the pits to finish third.
The German spends much of his time Stateside as part of BMW Team RLL’s factory TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT programme, but was once again drafted into the Belgian squad’s Pro Cup line-up as preparations for the European championship’s blue riband round continued.
The trio had already finished second together in May’s gruelling Nurburgring 24 Hour race, but any hopes of another rostrum looked fanciful after an engine change following Friday’s free practice session consigned their #46 BMW Z4 GT3 to a pit-lane start.
Standing in their way of a respectable result was a 60+ GT3 entry, although the six-hour/1000km distance would at least give them double the time of a regular Blancpain Endurance Series round to make amends.
And that they did, first with Palttala, then Luhr and finally Martin behind the wheel. Indeed, all three would make significant progress up the order and pull off several impressive overtaking moves en route to an unlikely third place finish.
“A lot of the credit for this result has to go to the guys who worked so hard to prepare this car,” said Lucas afterwards. “They were up extremely early and worked hard right until the chequered flag. The car ran perfectly and every pitstop was perfect too. Markus and Maxime were both awesome as well. It’s great to be back in this series, because the competition is fantastic and the level is very high. It’s certainly been great preparation for the 24 Hours of Spa.”
Delighted team owner Marc van der Straten added: “Of all the races I have seen with this team, this is one of the most amazing. On Friday things looked gloomy, but an incredible effort from everyone means we end with champagne and trophies. I still can’t believe we’re on the podium! Now, it’s all about going for the big one, the 24 Hours of Spa. It’s a race I love, that’s very close to my heart, and I really hope we can do well there.”
Luhr will be at Spa-Francorchamps this Wednesday for the event’s official Test Day before flying to New York in time for this weekend’s TUSCC round at Watkins Glen.
The 24 Hours of Spa – where Lucas and Marc VDS finished a close second last season – takes place on July 21-26.