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Blancpain GT Europe

Spa Test Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from the two-day test ahead of the Total 24 Hours of Spa…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***Most of the 72-car field for the Total 24 Hours of Spa took to the track for a total of 16 hours of running on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of an expanded pre-event test for the July 27-28 race. The entry list was also revealed on Tuesday.

***John Edwards has been drafted in to replace Chaz Mostert at BMW Team Schnitzer, with the Australian competing in Virgin Australia Supercars at Ipswich on the same weekend as Spa. Schnitzer was set for an unchanged lineup of Mostert, Martin Tomczyk and Augusto Farfus for the full IGTC season.

***AKKA ASP’s lead Mercedes-AMG GT3 has had a surprise driver change, with Fabien Schiller replacing Michael Meadows in the No. 88 car. The German will partner full-season Blancpain GT duo Raffaele Marciello and Vincent Abril in one of Mercedes-AMG’s four IGTC-nominated entries.

***Another one of the Stuttgart-based brand’s IGTC entries is the No. 999 GruppeM Racing car, which is listed with Maxi Buhk and Maxi Goetz on the entry list. Mercedes-AMG confirmed on Tuesday that Lucas Auer will complete the lineup.

***Mike Hedlund is amongst Daiko Lazarus Racing’s lineup for the race, driving its Am class Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo. Hedlund has been a regular in Blancpain GT America and Pirelli GT4 America competition in recent years.

***3Y Technology will finalize its lineup after the test, choosing the two drivers who will join Philippe Haezebrouck and Philippe Bourgeios in its Am class BMW M6 GT3. Romain Brandela and Jean-Paul Buffin are testing.

***Toni Vilander has been added to AF Corse’s Pro-Am Ferrari 488 GT3, joining fellow Platinum-rated driver Andrea Bertolini and Bronze-rated Louis Machiels and Niek Hommerson.

***M-Sport’s two additional Bentley Continental GT3s tested in an all-black livery and are yet to be dressed in their final color scheme.

***Ross Gunn will share Garage 59’s Am Cup Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with full-season drivers Chris Harris, Chris Goodwin and Alexander West. Gunn drove for Oman Racing with TF Sport at Spa last year.

***Giancarlo Fisichella will drive for Tempesta Racing, while Eddie Cheever III, one of the team’s International GT Open regulars, replaces Jonathan Hui. Fisichella and Cheever are sharing the No. 93 Ferrari 488 GT3 with Chris Froggatt and Chris Buncombe.

***Strakka Racing’s No. 43 car is set to be driven by Christina Nielsen and two TBA teammates, although Dev Gore and Jack Hawksworth are provisionally listed.

***Squadra Corsa Garage Italia is absent from the entry list. The Blancpain GT America regular announced last month it would enter a Ferrari for Martin Fuentes and Caesar Bacarella.

***While Philipp Eng isn’t on the race entry list, he did set some lap times today for Boutsen Ginion. The reigning winner and BMW factory driver is Karim Ojjeh’s driver coach and posted a time of 2:19.203 on Wednesday morning to go fourth fastest in the session.

***Boutsen Ginion is a full-season Am Cup entrant in the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup, and will run Ojjeh, Marc Rostan, Gennaro Bonafede and Eric Maris at Spa. Eng subbed for Philippe Steveny at Silverstone in May, bumping the car up to the Pro-Am Cup, while Angelique Detavernier filled the seat in the Paul Ricard 1000km.

***Several teams had a tight turnaround from last weekend’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe races at Misano and had a delayed start on Tuesday while they switched their cars back to Endurance specification.

***A number of drivers competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship flew to Belgium directly from Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and will return to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this weekend. 

***Pipo Derani, Renger van der Zande, Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Vautier, John Edwards, Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor, Jack Hawksworth, Alex Riberas, Don Yount, Mario Farnbacher and Toni Vilander all competed at Watkins Glen and will travel to CTMP later this week.

***Four other drivers raced at The Glen either as third drivers or in Michelin Endurance Cup entries, so won’t head to CTMP: Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard, Christopher Mies, and Dirk Werner.

***Christina Nielsen was at Watkins Glen and heads to Fuji for this weekend’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia round along with Alexandre Imperatori.

***Rinat Salikhov and David Perel lost their Pro-Am win in Sunday’s second race at Misano to a post-race penalty, promoting Orange1 FFF Racing Team’s Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Phil Keen to class honors. Salikhov was deemed to have hit one of the Attempto Racing Audis, pushing it into a spin.

***The SRO has extended its contract with Misano to remain on the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe schedule for another three years. The Italian circuit will have hosted eight events by the time this deal expires in 2022.

***Aurelien Panis will drive for Tech 1 Racing in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe round at Zandvoort later this month, and although his co-driver is not yet confirmed, it could be Jack Hawksworth. Panis has tested alongside Bernard Delhez, Eric Cayrolle and Timothe Buret this week but won’t compete in the 24H Spa.

***Reiter Engineering tested what appeared to be a new KTM GT car at Imola yesterday. While it isn’t clear what model it could be, multiple sources have indicated to Sportscar365 that Reiter and KTM are developing a GT2 car.

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report.

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake

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