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Blancpain GT to Limit Pro Entries; Equal Sprint Cup Races in 2018

SRO to limit Pro class field to 26 entries in Blancpain GT Endurance Cup…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

The grids in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup will be limited to 26 Pro class entries, in an effort to make the championship more attractive to Pro-Am and Am class competitors.

As revealed by Sportscar365 in June, SRO Motorsports Group boss Stephane Ratel had been looking at ways to reduce the Pro class field, which made up 31 of the 50 overall entries from last weekend’s season finale at Barcelona.

The entry cap will be in place for all Endurance Cup rounds except for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, which doubles as a round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

“Having learned from the past experiences of full pro championships in GT1, in the late 90s and again some ten years later, SRO Motorsports Group wishes to stop the increasing professionalization of the Blancpain GT Series, where the average number of Pro cars has gone from 11 in 2011 to 32 this season,” a statement from the SRO read.

It’s not yet been revealed how SRO will select which Pro entries will be permitted to take part in the championship.

Driver pairings in the Pro-Am class in the Endurance Cup, meanwhile, have been adjusted to that it must include two Bronze-rated drivers, and only one possible Silver, Gold or Platinum-rated driver. 

The possibility of two-driver lineups in Pro-Am will continue, with the Am class driver rating rules remaining unchanged, at three Bronze-rated drivers per car.

The Silver Cup, which has featured in the Sprint Cup, will be extended to the Endurance Cup.

Additionally, the starting grid in the Endurance Cup races will be determined by the combined best times from all three drivers, except at Spa.

Format Changes to Sprint Cup

The Blancpain GT Sprint Cup, meanwhile, will see changes to its format for next year, with both 60-minute races now scoring equal points and featuring separate qualifying sessions for each.

Previously, the results from the Qualifying Race determined the grid for the Main Race, which paid additional points.

The change thus puts the championship into a more traditional GT3 format in featuring two identical races over a race weekend.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Davy

    October 2, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Why do promoters think spectators want to watch amateurs?

    • Binky

      October 2, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      Because they care more about the competitors than the spectators. This has always been the case in sportscar racing, and with SRO in particular.

      I’d prefer to watch nothing but Pros racing myself, but the Am focus has been pretty successful for Ratel.

    • Fabio

      October 2, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Blancpain GT is not made for spectators. It’s business model is set towards wealthy businessmen who want to race sports cars in historic venues.
      They’re the ones who support the series, and the reason it exists. So it’s a reasonable move from SRO.
      As for us spectators, I personally always preferred looking otherwise for racing action.

    • SaskRacer

      October 2, 2017 at 7:59 pm

      It’s more that in sportscar racing, the amateurs are the only ones left when the manufacturers leave faster than they came. For most sportscar series’, it’s the gentlemen (and women) drivers who keep things going in the lean times and if you squeeze them out, there’s no one left when manufacturers’ short attention spans wane.

  2. Rory

    October 2, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    has Blancpain become a victim of it’s own success, to have 30+ pro entries it must have been doing something right, I’m in 2 minds I agree they’ve got to look after the amateur drivers and teams if you don’t they take their car and/or money elsewhere but at the same time you want to watch the pros in say a WRT Audi, HTP Mercedes, M-Sport Bentley, Grasser Lamborghini do what they do best and that’s being up the front winning races

    • Fabio

      October 2, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Yeah, it’s successful, but manufacturer budgets are too volatile, as we’ve come to see in LMPs these past few years. So having a series depend on Pro drivers (works drivers most of them) is not a good idea long-term. Ratel has seen it with the GT1 World Championship and he doesn’t want it happening again.

      • Anthony B Thomas

        October 7, 2017 at 6:49 pm

        They don’t really depend on OE participation but then again if a few factories pull the plug on their programs because of flagging car sales, drop in stock value or major fines to be paid to Governments of the world then they’ll look for places to cut cost and non-key series will get the ax.

        That said even with VW’s problems they pull the plug on LMP1 but not on GT3.

        GT3 and GT4 are both economical for factories to run overall. They don’t run teams they give existing teams the money, tech support and drivers or budget to hire the drivers they want.

        Limiting Pro entries doesn’t hurt that much, you just eliminate the cars that aren’t competitive to start with because they are dredging the bottom of the driver barrel to put warm bodies in the seat.

        At last count of cars that run in the Top 10 at any given BGT event –

        2 HTP
        1 Black Falcon
        2 ROWE
        2 Bentley
        2 Gasser Lambos
        2 RJN Nissans
        3 WRT Audi
        1 ISR Audi
        1 French Audi (team name escapes me)
        2 Mclarens
        2 Jags
        3 Ferraris (All run by AF Corse)

        Roughly 21 cars that have a chance to win or finish on the podium.

        You can easily limit the pro class to 25 cars actually even if you add two Lexus and two HPD NSX’s. You can also limit entries by the team much like NASCAR does.

        So I don’t see a problem here just a proactive move by Ratel.

  3. David Perel

    October 3, 2017 at 10:26 am

    My only concern is what happens to Gold ranked drivers? Now, if they don’t have a factory seat, they’re screwed. Up until today they could at least find their way into a Pro-Am car. I’m happy that Ratel is addressing some of the issues but if I was a Gold driver right now I’d be sweating in my boots.

    • Anthony B Thomas

      October 7, 2017 at 6:53 pm

      I wouldn’t worry too much David, by the way congrats on your title. IMSA is about to see more expansion in GTD which is our largest GT3 field in the US. You also might see some additional growth in PWC.

      But the big growth next year will be Conti tire that is if it stays Conti tire. Lots of GT4 cars have been ordered.

      Limiting the Pro am class to one Gold/Platinum driver does impact the driver market slightly but doesn’t so much harm.

  4. therandomguy

    October 3, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Whilst it is a good steo. Do firmly believe that they could do much better to get the PRO-AM and AM drivers at least competitive to the PRO teams or increase numbers. This will not do anything much as most of the PRO AM and AM want to be as competitive but still have good time.

    They can give more tyre allocation to the AM drivers not many say at least 1 tyre for each driver, give them a different BOP that does not make it harder on them to handle unlike the PRO drivers such as more power but less aero, give them less time in the pit stop mandatory than the PRO’s for the endurance etc.

    • Anthony B Thomas

      October 7, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      I agree more can be done in the sporting regulations than just limiting entries or drivers.

      Though honestly giving them more BOP allowances means the cars for the Pros to lap will be harder because they’ll be quicker in a straight line, forcing more risky maneuvers by the Pros to prevent losing time to the chasing pack behind them.

      This is really a problem at tracks notoriously hard to pass at.

      Giving them more tire just means they are likely to have new rubber throughout a race but won’t make them any faster over a stint, just single lap faster somewhat.

      This will make it easier for the Pro in Pro-Am to nip a couple of spots at the bottom of the Top 10 or even Top 3-5.

      Blancpain Endurance is almost impossible for a Pro Am driver pairing to win; Making it bronze, bronze, gold/platinum in Pro Am ensures it.

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