• Audi racer Caygill ends rookie Blancpain season with P12 in Rd5
• Caygill and team-mate Jon Venter joined by Clement Mateu for finale
• British driver determined to be back on Blancpain grid in 2018
Netherton racing driver Josh Caygill concluded his maiden season in the ultra-competitive Blancpain Endurance Cup at Barcelona in Spain on Sunday, 1st October, with a top 12 finish in the Pro-Am class at the end of a year of strong progression for the rookie GT competitor.
Arriving in the globe’s biggest GT championship with the high-profile Belgian Audi Club Team WRT at the start of the season with little in the way of endurance experience, Caygill has made big strides with his racecraft and performance and is now aiming for another crack at the series in 2018.
Joined for the fifth and final round at the Circuit de Catalunya over the weekend by regular driving partner Jon Venter and new team-mate Clement Mateu, standing in for Niki Mayr-Melnhof, the trio battled through the challenging three-hour contest to end up not too far from the Pro-Am top 10.
“I enjoyed this weekend, it was good racing at Barcelona in a GT3 car and, to be fair, I’ve really enjoyed the whole season – it’s been a mega experience”, said the SMUK and LSS Waste-backed driver, “There have been a lot of challenges, the Audi isn’t the easiest car to get to grips with and the standard of drivers is massively high in Blancpain, but I’m happy with the job we’ve done.
“You’ve got professional racers everywhere you look, at WRT you’re surrounded by factory drivers in the other cars, so the bar is incredibly high but that’s fantastic to learn from too. I’ve taken so much onboard this year, learnt a huge amount – more than I have in any other season. Now we need another go next year to put it all into practice and, hopefully, move forward.”
Caygill’s hopes of putting together a season-best showing on the final weekend progressed well, the No.3 Audi entry improving from 12th fastest in Pro-Am during Free Practice to an impressive fourth in class in the wet Pre-Qualifying session. With Caygill not running in the final qualifying session, Venter qualified the car for the race and ended the session 13th in Pro-Am and 37th overall.
With the track damp and slippery at the start of Sunday’s big race after earlier rain, Caygill – who took the first one-hour stint – was given full say by the team on which tyres to use and he opted to go with slick Pirellis.
While several drivers did experience wobbles during the early going, with grip at a premium, the Yorkshireman maintained 13th in Pro-Am and then moved up into the top 12 with around 25 minutes of racing elapsed. As the skies darkened overhead, racing then fell under a Full Course Yellow cautionary period ahead of a full Safety Car period.
Holding position at the resumption, Caygill completed a strong and consistent stint just before the one-hour mark to hand the car over to Matheu – importantly still on the lead lap. On his first outing with the team, the Frenchman produced a steady performance and Venter then completed the race by finishing 12th in Pro-Am and 34th overall, a lap down on the Pro-Am winning Lamborghini.
“The race wasn’t easy off the start, we were on cold slicks on a damp track but I was pleased with how it went”, said Caygill, “There were a lot of drivers having problems, some top guys ending up off the track, so I was happy to keep it pointing in the right direction and not have any dramas. It’s been a good year, big thanks to Vincent [Vosse – team principal] and all the guys for their support.”
With the Blancpain Endurance Cup season now concluded, Caygill’s attention turns to the Audi Sport TT Cup where he will make his second and final appearance of the year a fortnight from now, over the weekend 14th/15th October, at Hockenheim in Germany in the Milltek Sport-backed No.14 car.
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