SPS Mercs Lead GT Open Test Times
SPS Automotive Performance led the way as Mercedes entries paced the weekend’s International GT Open pre-season test at Paul Ricard.
The German squad held the two best times of the two-day event with its AMG GT3 driven by Fabrizio Crestani and Miguel Ramos topping the charts on a 2:01.995.
That was the only car to go sub-two minutes at the French Grand Prix venue, while SPS Automotive’s second car piloted by Tom Onslow-Cole and Valentin Pierburg ran second on a 2:02.129.
The third-quickest entry was the Lechner Racing Mercedes of Thomas Jaeger and Mario Plachutta, ahead of Giuseppe Cipriani who made it an AMG 1-2-3-4 when he slotted his Antonelli Motorsport car into fourth.
Best of the rest was the fifth-placed Audi R8 LMS GT3 shared by Olimp Racing’s Marcin Jedlinski and Mateusz Lisowski who ended up 0.888 seconds off the overall mark.
47-Car Grid for TC America Season-Opener
A bumper field of touring car machinery is set for this weekend’s TC America season-opener at Circuit of The Americas, kicking off the second year of TCR in SRO Motorsports America competition.
Out of the 47 cars, spread between the TCR, TC and TCA classes, 12 entries will compete for TCR honors in a diverse grid featuring five different manufacturers.
Alfa Romeo, Audi, Honda, Hyundai, and Volkswagen are all represented, with several new teams to the series and class.
It includes longtime Ferrari stalwarts Risi Competizione, which is fielding an Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR for James Walker and a pair of Audi RS 3 LMS TCR cars entered by McCann Racing.
LAP Motorsports, meanwhile, will have one of its Honda Civic Type-R TCR cars on the grid for Nelson Cheung, with TFB fielding an all-new Hyundai Veloster N TCR for Mason Filippi.
Notably absent is RealTime Racing and reigning drivers’ champion Ryan Eversley.
Both of the McCann entries, as well as all Audis, will compete in the new-for-2019 TCR Cup subclass, which is reserved exclusively for cars with DSG transmissions.
Aston Martin DTM Project Launched
R-Motorsport formally presented its Aston Martin DTM program on Wednesday with a glimpse of its 2019 challenger and all four confirmed drivers.
The Swiss squad has yet to release a full model or image of the car which is due to take part in pre-season testing next month, although team principal Florian Kamelger assured the Aston will be ready to hit the track at Jerez.
Ferdinand Habsburg, Daniel Juncadella, Jake Dennis and 2010 DTM champion Paul di Resta will line up for the Aston Martin program which is being run by former Mercedes operator HWA, under the Vynamic banner.
“The extremely short timeframe for development has put huge demands on the project team led by Vynamic in the joint venture between AF Racing and HWA,” said Kamelger.
“But we pulled out all the stops so that the new Aston Martin Vantage DTM car can make its racetrack debut in the first week of March.
“And so, it gives us great pleasure to present this model which we hope you will also find impressive, showing the new racing car’s skillfully crafted shape.”
News & Notes
***2011 British GT champion Glynn Geddie will return to the series after five years away with Bentley GT3 customer Team Parker Racing. Geddie, who raced for the team in Porsche Carrera Cup GB a decade ago, has been confirmed in Parker’s second-generation Bentley Continental GT3 alongside the retained Ryan Ratcliffe.
***KTM will return to British GT after an eight-year absence when Track Focused joins the grid this year with a single closed-cockpit X-BOW GT4. Pro-Am pairing Mike McCollum and Sean Cooper are set to contest the full season after graduating from the Britcar series.
***The last team to run a KTM in British GT was ABG Motorsport which took Peter Belshaw and Marcus Clutton to the 2011 GT4 title with the open-top version of the VW-powered sports car.
***Porsche has become the eighth manufacturer represented in the British GT GT4 class this season, with the GT Marques team confirming a new 718 Cayman GT4 for Dino Zamparelli and Chris Car.
***Daiko Lazarus Racing will return to the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with a single Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo entered in the Silver Cup. Nicolas Pohler and Fabrizio Crestani are the first two drivers, while a third will be announced later.
***GP3 race winner Patric Niederhauser will partner Kelvin van der Linde in ADAC GT Masters this season. The 27-year-0ld Swiss racer is the fourth and final driver to be confirmed in HCB Rutronik Racing’s two-car Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo lineup, with Dennis Marschall and Carrie Schreiner already confirmed in the team’s other car.
***B-Quik Racing has committed to the first two rounds of Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia with the new Audi R8 Evo. 2016 Sepang 12 Hours class winners Henk Kiks and Daniel Bilski will share driving duties in the races at Sepang on April 6 and Buriram on May 12.
***Another team to outline its Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia intentions is Arrows Racing, which has pledged a Honda NSX GT3 for the full season. The Malaysian squad will vie for Am Cup honors with Philip Ma and Alex Liu behind the wheel. It’s understood that Arrows, which entered select Blancpain Asia races last year, could end up running the Evo version of the NSX GT3 which debuted in the Rolex 24 at Daytona last month.
***Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand will headline this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans mid-race concert. The band famous for its hit song ‘Take Me Out’ fills the 8 p.m. slot on the Saturday night bill during the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale on Jun. 15.
John Dagys and Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report.