Record entry assembled for Blancpain GT Sports Club opener at Misano
1st April 2016
The record entry, which travels to the Adriatic coast as an official support category of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, proves the popularity and momentum of SRO’s sportscar series for Bronze-only drivers. It also represents a twofold increase in entries compared with the majority of races held during the inaugural 2015 campaign.
The Blancpain GT Sports Club is the only series to balance GTE-spec machinery with that of GT3, RACB G3 and single-make championships, so it is no surprise to see such an eclectic mix of cars entered for Misano. Indeed, 10 models built by six different manufacturers will be present.
Ferrari is best represented with a total of 14 entries comprising 458 GTE and GT3 cars, as well as an all-new 488 GT3. Five Audi R8 LMS ultras are also on the list along with two Mercedes – one of which is the new-generation AMG GT3 model – and two Lamborghinis. A Corvette C6 ZR1 GTE and BMW Z4 GT3 complete the roster.
Six cars have been added since a provisional entry list was issued in mid-March. These include two more Kessel Racing-run Ferraris driven by Michael Broniszewski and Wong Chong Yau Runme, as well as the Stile F Squadra Corse-prepared 458 of Yoshiki Ohmura. Black Pearl by Rinaldi’s Christian Hook completes the Prancing Horse ensemble. The JPB Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Jean-Paul Buffin is another newcomer to the grid, along with former FIA GT Championship driver Mauro Casadei whose Attempto Racing-prepared Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo is an Xtracup class entrant. AF Corse remains the single largest team present with six Ferraris entered.
Misano’s 4.226km, 16-turn layout is primarily known as a world championship motorcycle venue, but also hosted the final round of the maiden Blancpain GT Sports Club season in 2015. This year it moves to the start of the calendar, offering amateur drivers an opportunity to build on what they learnt there just six months ago.
With reigning Overall champion Massimiliano Bianchi opting against a title defence the way has been left clear for a new challenger to emerge. And, if last season’s Misano round is anything to go by, that will surely be AF Corse’s Mario Cordoni who heads to Italy’s Adriatic coast eager to maintain a 100% winning record after scoring victories in both the Qualifying and Main races last season.
“Misano is certainly one of my favourite circuits and of course I will be doing my best to maintain my winning streak there,” said the Italian, who also won both of last season’s races in Portugal. “Every championship and every race is unique with their own characteristics, but I will do my best.”
“Can I win the championship? Who knows! Don’t forget that last year I lost it after retiring with a 15-second lead in Barcelona, so you can never tell. But being part of AF Corse again obviously gives me confidence. They’re a wonderful team with a lot of experience.”
Cordoni’s main rival for this year’s crown could be AF Corse stablemate and reigning Iron Cup champion Martin Lanting, who rolled back the years to also finish fourth in the Overall standings. However, he’ll be facing a stiff challenge from six other drivers aged 60 or over, including 2015 runner-up Louis Philippe Soenen and third-place driver Michael Luzich.
Elsewhere, Patrick van Glabeke will be hoping his new Ferrari 488 GT3 provides the necessary performance to improve upon sixth overall last season, while former ELMS GTE Am champion Anthony Pons should be amongst the fastest of the series’ newcomers.
Saturday’s action begins with two 30-minute practice sessions followed by a 20-minute qualifying run. The 25-minute Qualifying Race takes place that same evening before drivers and teams return mid-morning on Sunday for their 40-minute Main Race.
Both Saturday and Sunday’s races will be broadcast live across Europe on Motors TV.
Track Days / Test Days / MotorsportDays.com