Vincent Abril says that his switch to AKKA ASP after a four-year stint at Bentley allows him to fulfill his target of a busier race schedule at what he feels is the peak of his career.
The Monaco-based driver was announced at lead Mercedes-AMG customer team AKKA ASP on Saturday, joining reigning Blancpain GT Series champion Raffaele Marciello for the full season.
“Since last year, I told Bentley that I wanted to do more racing,” he explained to Sportscar365. “At the time, it wasn’t something that was possible.
“The best decision for my career was to try and do more racing and explore other things.
“I’ve been driving this car for four years and I had a great time but it’s just part of life. I just wanted to do more and different things.
“They asked me if I could do Bathurst and of course I said yes. It was a short time to find another driver so I decided to do Bathurst.”
Bentley’s factory GT3 program this year mirrors last year’s, and sees the British marque compete in the five Blancpain GT Endurance Cup rounds and four additional Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli races.
It hasn’t entered the Sprint Cup (now Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe) since 2017, and for 2015 champion Abril, a return to the sprint series is enticing.
“[Bentley has] a great program and we’ve had a lot of success in the past, it’s a great program, but it’s very limited in the number of races,” he said.
“For me, I felt I was at the peak of my career, driving-wise. I’ve never felt as good in every aspect, outside and inside the car, with the way I’ve worked with the team, on myself, and just pure pace.
“I keep learning all the time, and now I’m at the point where I feel like I want to do more and be able to be in a position to have more races to succeed a bit more.
“[Nine] races was not enough and I think it was a common decision. They were very supportive when I told them and there’s no hard feelings.”
Abril said there’s currently no firm plans for other races on top of the ten Blancpain GT weekends, but maintained that he would “be very open” to adding more races to his schedule.
“Depending on how it goes, there might be more along the line, it’s a possibility and I would like to,” he said.
“I don’t think [AKKA ASP] have even finalized their own programs themselves so I don’t know how I can be implicated in that but for sure, if there’s opportunities for more I would be very open to it.”
After a championship-winning season last year, Abril expects the bar to be high at the Toulouse-based team.
“If I can help them, I will do all I can,” he said. “Now we’ve got a really strong lineup. ‘Lello’ (Marciello) is one of the best, if not the best, current GT3 drivers.
“They executed at a very high level every time and I think we just have to press repeat this year.
“Hopefully, I can bring my touch to the scenario, but if we could repeat what they did, it would be a really good achievement.”