• Audi R8 trio Caygill, Venter and Mayr-Melnhof race strongly in Rd1
• Blancpain rookie Caygill battles hard in challenging Monza debut
• ‘Home’ race next with visit to Silverstone in three weeks’ time
Blancpain Endurance Cup newcomer Josh Caygill delivered a battling performance on his debut in the world’s biggest GT motor racing championship at Monza on Sunday, 23rd April, with a top 15 finish in the ‘Pro’ class at the legendary Italian venue.
The 27-year-old British driver, who shares driving duties in the No.3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS with Australia’s Jon Venter and Austrian racer Niki Mayr-Melnhof, experienced a less than straightforward maiden outing in the series but thoroughly enjoyed his debut.
Caygill, who hails from Netherton in West Yorkshire, started out on Saturday, 22nd April, at the foot of a major learning curve in the ultra-competitive series which this weekend featured a magnificent entry of no fewer than 52 cars in total.
Despite a challenging qualifying, where the Team WRT trio had to settle for 47th overall on the grid and 27th of the Pro runners following a tougher than expected run, the three-hour race delivered an improvement for the squad with 24th place overall and 15th of the Pro runners.
“It was a good weekend overall, we brought the car home in one piece after three hours so that’s the starting point you want”, reflected Caygill, “It was obviously a big challenge, everything is new to me so I knew it was always going to be tough, but I’m satisfied with the experience gained.
“This year is a huge learning curve for me, it’s a whole different level to what I’ve been doing the past few years, but we’ve made a decent start and now I can’t wait for the home race at Silverstone in a few weeks. It’s going to be fantastic racing in the UK again with my family, friends and sponsors there – I’m really looking forward to it.”
Round one of the season on Sunday afternoon got underway in dramatic fashion when a multi-car accident on the run to the first corner resulted in a red flag stoppage. With around a dozen cars caught-up in the drama, Mayr-Melnhof – who took the opening stint in the No.3 Audi – avoided the chaos superbly and threaded his way through into 29th overall, gaining 28 positions in total.
When the action re-started some 20 minutes later, the Austrian progressed towards the head of the outright top 20 before handing over to Venter at the one-hour mark. Running around 20th place as the second group of driver-change pit-stops started to begin, as the clock reached two hours, the Australian stayed out longer than most others and as a result climbed into sixth overall.
Caygill climbed into the driving seat for his first ever stint in the Blancpain Endurance Cup with 55 minutes to run and when the race order settled he was just outside the outright top 20. Edged back to 25th overall with just over half an hour to go, Caygill raced competitively to the chequered flag and ultimately finished an improved 24th overall and 15th of the Pro entries.
“Qualifying was tough for the team but the race started well with Niki [Mayr-Melnhof], he did a great job avoiding the collision on the way into the first corner”, explained Caygill, “Jono had a very good stint as well and then it was my turn for the third hour.
“It was tough as I was up against a lot of the top Pro drivers in the final hour and they all had good tyres as well, but I did the best I could – it’s all a learning experience. I’m still figuring out how to drive the Audi to get the most out of it, but I’m happy enough to have brought it home safely.”
Next on the Blancpain Endurance Cup schedule is Caygill’s home event, a trip to Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend 13th/14th May.
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Copyright free images courtesy Patrick Hecq
Vancraft / Volkswagen Van Centre West Yorkshire / SMUK Auto Electrical Engineers – the UK’s leader in vehicle safety equipment, cross-rail vehicle compliance and telematics product installations / BHP Clough & Company Chartered Accountants / Integro Insurance Brokers / WoodenSpoon.com / Tog 24 / Audi Financial Services / Nebula
Through his motor racing Josh helps to support and promote Wooden Spoon – the children’s charity of rugby. Founded in 1983, the charity has been making a difference to the lives of disadvantaged children and young people since that time. Wooden Spoon is one of the largest funders of respite and medical treatment centres, sensory enhancement therapeutic facilities, specialist playgrounds, sports activity areas and community-based programmes. For more information visit www.woodenspoon.com
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