No fewer than four driver combinations competing with four different cars will battle it out for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup drivers’ title on Sunday at the Nürburgring.
The three-hour event in the Eifel is the last of the long-haul races, with McLaren, Bentley, BMW and Mercedes-AMG drivers all still in the running for the coveted trophy with 26 points on offer.
Garage 59 McLaren trio Rob Bell, Shane Van Gisbergen and Côme Ledogar lead the standings with 68 points, courtesy of their wins with the No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 at Monza and Paul Ricard.
A far-from-perfect Total 24 Hours of Spa saw their lead dwindle to a mere nine points. Furthermore, Duncan Tappy will replace Van Gisbergen, who will give priority to his Australian Supercars commitments at Sandown this weekend.
The McLaren has already proven its pace on the Nürburgring, winning last year’s Endurance race and claiming the Sprint Cup win back in July, with Bell behind the wheel on both occasions.
Bentley Boys Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet and Wolfgang Reip lead the chasing pack with the No. 8 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental GT3, after coming close to wins at Paul Ricard and Spa.
If it were to go their way, Reip would become the first back-to-back Blancpain GT Series champion.
Thirteen points adrift of the leading McLaren trio are Spa winners Alexander Sims, Philipp Eng and Maxime Martin (ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3), who are tied on points with Mercedes-AMG HTP drivers and Silverstone race winners Maxi Buhk, Dominik Baumann and Jazeman Jaafar.
Martin will be absent at the Nürburgring, but will be replaced by 2015 Spa 24H winner Nick Catsburg in the No. 98 BMW.
The gaps in the Endurance Cup teams’ standings are even closer, with Garage 59 leading M-Sport by only six points, while HTP and ROWE are a further 13 and 15 points adrift, respectively.
While Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is out of the running for the drivers’ title, an 18-point deficit means they still have a shot at defending the teams’ crown.
In the overall Blancpain GT Series drivers’ standings, Bell has a seven-point lead over Mercedes-AMG duo Buhk and Baumann, but with a further 34 points on offer at the Sprint Cup season finale in Barcelona, it’s mathematically impossible for the overall drivers’ title to be decided in Germany.
In the Pro-Am division of the Endurance Cup, Michal Broniszewski will be looking to add to title to his overall Blancpain GT Pro-Am title, which he already secured at the Hungaroring.
Together with his Kessel Racing co-drivers Alessandro Bonacini and Andrea Rizzoli, Broniszewski currently holds a 10-point lead over ISR trio Franck Perera, Philippe Giauque and Henry Hassid.
In the Endurance Am Cup standings, Liam Talbot, Marco Zanuttini and Vadim Gitlin already have one hand on the trophy after recording class wins at both at Paul Ricard and Spa.
Track action at the Nürburgring gets underway on Saturday, with the three-hour Endurance Cup season finale set for Sunday afternoon.