***Sunday’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup opener was characterized by the unpredictable weather conditions that called for quick strategy calls and a combination of slick and rain tires.
***Several teams picked up punctures during the final hour on account of running rain tires on a drying track, including Sainteloc Racing’s Christopher Haase who pitted with a puncture from the lead with 12 minutes remaining.
***Eventual winner Dinamic Motorsport was one of a few teams to stick to rain tires for the whole race, with most of its rivals choosing slicks at least once. Klaus Bachler took the car to the line and avoided picking up a puncture.
“Unusually, this was a race where our Cinturato WH tire came to the forefront, in conditions that were hard to predict,” said Matteo Braga, Pirelli’s racing technical manager.
“The wet tyre did its job perfectly, providing the grip needed to stay on the road at one of the fastest tracks of the year. Strategy was a key consideration, in order to be on the right tyre at the right time and to get the most out of it, with the result hard to predict right up to the end.”
***The pole-sitting No. 63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo led for a while at the start of the race but lost the top spot midway through the first stint when Mirko Bortolotti pitted for a single tire with a puncture. The car was later retired with electrical issues.
***Silver Cup winners Nico Bastian, Felipe Fraga and Timur Boguslavskiy proved more than capable of running at the top of the field, with Bastian briefly able to lead in the No. 90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3. They finished fourth overall.
***Raffaele Marciello built up a lead during the second stint after choosing slick tires when the track began to dry. He lost the lead when the safety car was brought out and rain followed.
***Michael Meadows was later forced to retire the No. 88 AKKA ASP Mercedes with technical damage with around 20 minutes remaining, preventing him, Marciello and new signing Vincent Abril from logging a competitive finish.
***ROWE Racing’s efforts on its Porsche debut went unrewarded, with a puncture taking Romain Dumas out of contention and Matt Campbell losing positions after an ill-timed switch to slick tires. Both cars ran in the top five at some point.
***Belgian Audi Club Team WRT had a race to forget, with multiple punctures hitting its No. 2 and No. 10 cars late in the race, and its No. 17 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo unable to start the race after a qualifying crash.
***Tech 1 Racing made its Blancpain GT debut with its Lexus RC F GT3, the only Lexus in the field. The team was present at two circuits this weekend, with its Panis-Barthez Competition program in action at Circuit Paul Ricard.
***Monza marked the first ever Blancpain GT Endurance race that Stephane Ortelli did not take part in. He may make an appearance in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe this year.
***Lamborghini is still pursuing an Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli program next year, according to its motorsports boss Giorgio Sanna. It would likely use one or two “reference” teams for the full season rather than fielding entries with local teams.
“To do Intercontinental GT Challenge in a proper way, you have to work a few months before the start of the season,” Sanna told Sportscar365. “Yes, in 2020, one of the targets is to enter also this program in a competitive way. We will take a decision in the next few months but we are committed to build up a program there.”
***Sportscar365 understands R-Motorsport is still planning to take part in some additional IGTC races this year. It had two previous-gen Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3s at Bathurst, and has confirmed entries at Spa through its Blancpain GT program. The Swiss-entered team missed the California 8 Hours but could run at Suzuka or Kyalami.
***As well as their Endurance Cup program with Boutsen Ginion, Claude-Yves Gosselin and Pierre Feligioni will enter the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe meetings at Misano and Nürburgring as well as the International GT Open round at Barcelona.
***Manufacturer driver nominations for the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe are set to be revealed later this month. Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari have already revealed their nominations for Blancpain GT America, and Blancpain GT Asia.
***In Blancpain GT Asia, Ferrari has nominated David Tjiptobiantoro, David Russell, Yuya Sakamoto and Rio Haryanto, while Mercedes-AMG is represented by Jeffrey Lee, Xu Wei, MG Choi and Christina Nielsen.
***A new website for the Blancpain GT World Challenge is set to be launched soon, while details on the points systems combining results from the three regional championships will be communicated in the coming weeks.