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Paul Ricard Test Notebook, Part 3

Part 3 of Laurent Mercier’s notebook from Blancpain GT Series official test…

Photo: Brecht Decancq Photography

Photo: Brecht Decancq Photography

***As the two official test days are being solely devoted to driving, teams took the opportunity to test several new drivers. At M-Sport Bentley, Duncan Tappy is one of the newcomers. Bernard Delhez and Grégory Guilvert are present at Saintéloc Racing where we also found Sourd and Dino Lunardi, while Alex Müller has only just arrived at the circuit. The crews of the two Sport Garage Ferrari 458 Italia GT3s are reinforced with the arrival of Bruce Lorgeré-Roux, Santamato Arno, George Stephen and Philip Colançon.

***The DKR Engineering BMW Z4 GT3 will only start testing tomorrow. Nick Catsburg will test the car together with Michael Albert and Tony Samon. Currently, the Luxembourg team is scheduled to take part in the French GT championship with BMW Z4 GT3 2014-spec entrusted to an entirely Chinese crew. The 2011 model of the Z4 may be entered in the Blancpain Endurance Series or European Le Mans Series, depending on drivers’ interest. Team boss Kendy Janclaes remains open to any proposal.

***In addition to a fine performance in the 12 Hours of Abu Dhabi, M-Sport Bentley has completed a successful endurance test of 24 hours without the slightest concern. One thing is certain, we can not blame Bentley for hiding their game, the Continental GT3 has not left the top of the timetables since this morning.

***AF Corse will enter three Ferrari 458 Italia in the Blancpain Endurance Series, one in Pro-Am and two in the Gentlemen Trophy. The Pro-Am car will be piloted by Andrew Danyliw, Simon Knap and Andrea Sovinco. Yannick Mallegol – Howard Blank – Jean- Marc Bachelier and Filipe Barreiros – Peter Mann – Francisco Guedes will take the wheel of the Gentlemen cars.

*** The Balance of Performance is yet to be determined for all GT3 models during these tests, however, this is not the case for the Porsche 911 GT3-R, on which the BoP was already decided a couple of weeks ago.

***A smaller grid is expected in the Blancpain Endurance Series this year. For the 2014 season opener at Monza next month 45 GT3s are expected to show up according to Stéphane Ratel. The same number of cars should also do the full championship, with a maximum of up to 60 cars for the 24 Hours of Spa. As for Sprint Series, the field is gradually taking shape.

***The GT3 category currently has the wind in its sails with no less than 12 brands present at Paul Ricard for the official test. Besides the arrival of Lexus, Stéphane Ratel has told us that other brands are strongly considering developing a GT3 racer in the near future.

Laurent Mercier (@LaurentMercier2) is the Editor-in-Chief of Endurance-Info.com, the leading French-language source for the latest sports car racing news from around the world.

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