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Paul Ricard Blancpain: Bentley beats ART McLaren to win again

Bentley, Paul Ricard Blancpain 2014

The M-Sport Bentley squad moved to the top of the Blancpain Endurance Series after a thrilling 'into the night' race at Paul Ricard.

Alvaro Parente took the polesitting ART McLaren into the lead of the race, while the Bentley - in the hands of Guy Smith - fought through from seventh on the grid.

The second stint turned out to be the crucial one, as Gregoire Demoustier took over in the lead McLaren and subsequently lost the lead to the charging Andy Meyrick.

Once Nicolas Lapierre took over from Demoustier for the final stint, he pressed Steven Kane as the sun went down.

The gap ebbed and flowed while they dealt with lapping the slower cars, but Kane kept his nerve to take the flag 1.1 seconds clear of the chasing McLaren. The win also moves the car to the top of the championship heading to the Spa 24 Hours.

The battle for third place went down to the wire as well. There was a three-car train for the final podium spot, and ultimately in the closing laps Sergei Afanasiev stole the position away from his HTP Mercedes team-mate Nico Verdonck.

The Mercedes had been followed for the final hour by the Sainteloc Audi. Gregory Guilvert did a magnificent job in an underpowered R8 to stay with the Mercedes, but ultimately could not find a way past.

Sixth place overall and the win in Pro-Am went to Henry Hassid and Nick Catsburg. Catsburg was especially strong in the TDS Racing BMW Z4, at points being the quickest man on the circuit.

A second place finish in Pro-Am gives the championship lead to the Villorba Corse Ferrari of Francesco Castellacci, Stefano Gai and Andrea Rizzoli.

The Gentleman Trophy class was again won by the GT Corse by Rinaldi squad, continuing its unbeaten run in 2014.

Leading results - 88 laps:

Pos Cl  Drivers                      Team/Car                 Time/Gap
 1. PRO Smith/Meyrick/Kane           M-Sport Bentley      3h00m07.131s
 2. PRO Lapierre/Demoustier/Parente  ART McLaren               +1.178s
 3. PRO Wolf/Afanasiev/Dusseldorp    HTP Mercedes             +49.206s
 4. PRO Primat/Verdonck/Buhk         HTP Mercedes             +50.015s
 5. PRO Ortelli/Sandstrom/Guilvert   Sainteloc Audi           +50.550s
 6. PAM Hassid/Catsburg              TDS BMW                  +57.645s
 7. PRO Nash/Stippler/Mies           WRT Audi                1m05.582s
 8. PAM Rizzoli/Gai/Castellacci      Villorba Corse Ferrari  1m09.557s
 9. PRO Al Faisal/Haupt/Simonsen     Falcon Mercedes         1m29.645s
10. PAM Aksenov/Faisca/Chiyo         RJN Nissan              1m49.042s
Other class winners:
20. GTE Ehret/Mattschull/Schmickler  Rinaldi Ferrari           -2 laps
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Parente puts ART McLaren on pole