The 2011 FIA GT1 world championship finale in San Luis was the top of an period, but additionally the daybreak of a brand new one. The final hurrah for the costly and more and more long-in-the-tooth GT1 equipment that was resulting from be phased out for 2012, it marked the daybreak of Yelmer Buurman’s profitable GT profession that to this point counts the 2018 Blancpain GT Endurance title, two Dubai 24 Hour wins and the 2020 British GT Professional-Am crown.
A stalwart of the British junior single-seater scene in Method Renault 2.zero and British Method three, Buurman had carved out a distinct segment within the football-themed Superleague Method championship and received races in all 4 seasons till it abruptly collapsed halfway by 2011.
Left on the sidelines, the Dutchman was filling his weekends in home Radical races when a shock supply got here his technique to race the Selleslagh-run Exim Financial institution Group China Corvette C6.R in Argentina. Fanatic Rick Abresch had simply bought the automobile and wished Buurman to companion Francesco Pastorelli, the youthful brother of 2004 European F3000 champion Nicky, who was working as a mechanic for Abresch’s Mad & Daring crew in Dutch Supercars.
“He advised me that the crew had some points with the drivers and that he was glad to pay for my drive if I wished to do it with Francesco who I knew from earlier than,” remembers Buurman, who was engineered by Fernando Alonso’s present Alpine F1 engineer Karel Loos.
“We had very low expectations as a result of we didn’t have any testing, I by no means drove the automobile earlier than.”
The crew’s fifth driver pairing of the yr had been definitely up towards it, the automobile having managed no higher than third all yr within the fingers of the vastly skilled Mike Hezemans and Andreas Zuber at Silverstone. Each drivers had been additionally new to the majestic Potrero de los Funes Circuit that weaves round a reservoir and, in line with Buurman, “had a little bit of every thing”.
San Luis FIA GT1 2011, environment
Photograph by: DPPI
“It was a improbable observe, typically I like avenue tracks and I get on fairly effectively with them,” he says. “It’s a disgrace that they aren’t organising anymore worldwide huge races there as a result of it was actually an superior location.”
Neither Buurman or Pastorelli acquired to drive on new tyres till qualifying, however the circuit appeared to go well with the Corvette properly. Buurman began the qualifying race from second on the grid and in the beginning, decisively took a lead they wouldn’t lose from cautious champion-elect Michael Krumm’s pole-sitting JRM Nissan.
Buurman felt his expertise in racing the comparatively heavy V12-powered Superleague single-seaters helped him get shortly up to the mark, however admits the braking took some getting used to.
“The automobile was really pretty straightforward to drive when you’re used to huge, heavy Superleague,” he explains. “Clearly in components vehicles you possibly can see the entrance wheels in order quickly as you’re beginning to lock up, you see it. And in GT vehicles, you don’t see the entrance wheels. Okay, you may have some lights, however it’s not the identical.”
“I fired it by the chicane, simply made it to his facet and outbraked him for the ultimate nook. It was a cool transfer, a really particular second clearly” Yelmer Buurman
They then sealed a outstanding double within the championship race, however solely after some confusion following a multi-car crash that neutralised the primary half of the race. Pastorelli had slowed for a security automobile board, however inconsistent marshalling indicators led some to consider the race was nonetheless inexperienced. He was overtaken below yellow flags by Alex Muller’s Younger Driver Aston, whereas Richard Westbrook moved as much as fourth for JRM.
A sluggish cease attributable to a misplaced wheelnut meant Buurman got here out fourth behind Muller’s team-mate Tomas Enge, Westbrook’s co-driver Peter Dumbreck and the Hexis Aston of Stef Dusseldorp. To make issues worse, hovering engine temperatures had been demanding his consideration, however after Enge got here in to serve a penalty Buurman pulled an important transfer on Dusseldorp to offer him the online lead when Dumbreck was additionally referred to as in.
FIA GT1 2011 San Luis, begin crash
Photograph by: DPPI
“I observed there was one place the place I had a little bit of overspeed in comparison with Stef – it was a fast chicane – so I knew I needed to do it there,” says Buurman. “It was not really easy as a result of I needed to adapt the hole and ensure that I used to be not too far again clearly, but additionally not too shut. I fired it by the chicane, simply made it to his facet and outbraked him for the ultimate nook. It was a cool transfer, a really particular second clearly.”
Whereas all attentions had been on the battle for the groups championship, narrowly determined in Hexis’ style after the penalties for Younger Driver and JRM, Buurman and Pastorelli streaked to a double win that gave Buurman impetus to chase after a full-time drive in GTs in 2012.
Since that season, when he challenged for the FIA GT1 crown in a Vita4one BMW Z4 GT3 alongside Michael Bartels till an acrimonious remaining spherical collision at Donington with title rival Markus Winkelhock, Buurman has been a paid-up skilled. However he admits it virtually didn’t occur, as a result of he didn’t have sufficient sponsorship to safe the Vita4one seat…
“Principally on the time we couldn’t do it as a result of they wanted extra price range,” he says. “However ultimately one week earlier than the race [Bartels] referred to as me and he was like, ‘Okay, let’s do it!’”
Yelmer Buurman, RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3
Photograph by: JEP Images