Barcelona was the season finale for the GT World Challenge Europe Championship, and for Bullitt Racing, it was the conclusion of its first season at the highest level in GT3 competition.
Led by Team Manager Steffan Pattrick, the Spanish squad arrived at its home venue off the back of steady progress in recent rounds. Spa-Francorchamps was the first ever 24-hour event in GT3 competition, and the team went the distance and finished a fine sixth. Nurburgring saw another gain with fourth position, and so hopes were high at the season finale at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. After a tough, arduous race, the #33 Aston Martin Vantage crossed the line seventh in Silver Cup.
“We really did want a podium this year, but the gains we have made give us confidence for 2024; we are going to be taking the fight to the teams that have been doing this for a lot longer than us,” stated Team Manager Steffan Pattrick. “Success is in no way guaranteed in this game, but if you can learn from your failures and maximise when you perform, you will move forward. We knew entering this championship that we’d compete against great competitors and drivers, which is the reality.
“Over the season, we undoubtedly improved, got some strong results. Sometimes, things outside our control meant we couldn’t demonstrate our abilities at every round. Over the season, we undoubtedly improved – drivers and team.”
Maxime Robin joined team regulars Jacob Reigel and Romain Leroux for this event, retaining Silver Cup status. As an Aston Martin Vantage regular, the former slotted into the team well, immediately looking comfortable in the #33 GT3 Vantage.
Saturday brought two practice sessions, where all three drivers were able to get plenty of laps to acclimatise to the circuit. Jacob, making his race debut at the Spanish venue, also had an additional hour of running ahead of the race weekend. Sunday brought qualifying, three short sessions to provide an average lap time and a grid position of eight in the Silver Cup, 45th overall.
Maxime had the unenviable task of starting the three-hour race and seized the opportunity with relish. A brilliant opening lap moved him up to sixth in the Silver Cup ranks, passing many from the other classes in the process. He set the team’s best lap on lap ten and then survived a near miss with a spinning Porsche. After an eventful stint, he handed over to Jacob.
From here, the race was more tricky. Running eighth, Jacob – completing his first full season of GT3 competition – found the tyres degraded more than he had expected. His laps were consistent, but the pace was dropping away. Romain took the final run to the chequered flag, but with numerous safety car periods, he had very little actual racing in that final hour of the season.
A fourth position, two sixths, and a seventh provide a solid base for the team, one that can be developed over the winter period and will help propel Bullitt Racing towards the sharp end of the field.
Bullitt Racing now heads back to its Spanish base and continues discussions and preparation for the winter race programme and the summer campaign in 2024.
“It was a fun start! I saw the opportunities to make some moves, and I took them. Then, it was a case of managing the tyre degradation, staying clean and making sure there was no contact. I ran P6 after gaining something like 15 places, so that was cool.
“The car was good, and I’d like to thank the whole team for the opportunity for me to drive here this weekend; it was a pleasure!”
“It’s the first year for me in GT3 and there has been a lot to learn, but I have developed as a driver race by race. As expected, we have had ups and downs, but it’s all valuable knowledge we can build on for the future. In this final race, I perhaps didn’t manage the tyres as well as I would have liked, but it’s been a learning curve!
“I’d like to thank my family for their tremendous support at the track and to my beautiful girlfriend, who is now with me at each race. I’ll work hard over winter on my driving and fitness and return stronger next year.”
“Unfortunately, I had little opportunity to actually race here in Barcelona, with all the safety cars and full course yellows. And when green, it was tough with me running amongst the Pro-class with a slight rearward view issue; the mirrors were pointing to the sky!
“But it was a good weekend overall, building together, gaining experience and also working with our second and newest AMR engineer, Ed. He helped with his experience with the Aston, so that was good.
“Looking forward, I, the team, need to continue the progress as this is the toughest GT3 championship in the world. Everything needs to be perfect, and that’s the target.”
Steffan Pattrick, Team Manager
“Success is in no way guaranteed in this game, but if you can learn from your failures and maximise when you perform, you will move forward. We knew entering this championship that we’d compete against great competitors and drivers, which is the reality. Sometimes, things outside of our control meant we couldn’t demonstrate our real pace.
“Over the season, we undoubtedly improved – drivers and team – and we got some strong results.
“Silver Cup was very competitive this year, and that was a real challenge. We rose to the occasion at times, and at times we didn’t. That’s learning… we know so much more going to the next season and how to perform in every round.
“Maxime was an excellent addition to the team at this round, showing his experience and talent. A phenomenal stint from him. Thereafter, there were a lot of track incidents; Jacob suffered with deg, but that’s something we can certainly work together with over the winter.
“We really did want a podium this year, but the gains we have made give us confidence for 2024; we are going to be taking the fight to the teams that have been doing this for a lot longer than us.
“It’s not a race to celebrate, but we can be somewhat satisfied to motivate us to take it towards the front and where we want to be.”