***This weekend marks the Blancpain GT Series’ first round at the Hungaroring, but the track located near Budapest is no stranger to SRO events. It hosted the FIA GT Championship for several years, first in 1998 when Bernd Schneider and Mark Webber led a dominant Mercedes-Benz CLK LM 1-2 finish over three Porsche 911 GT1 entries. Watch the highlights from that event here.
***Eighteen years later, Schneider returns to the Hungaroring in a Mercedes, but this time the Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by HTP Motorsport. “I have great memories of that race with Mark Webber and the older CLK GT1,” he said. “The circuit has changed a little since then, too. Not much but a bit through a couple of sections, plus it’s been resurfaced. I was here a few years ago with the AMG Driving Academy but I can’t remember whether I’ve actually raced here since winning in 1998!”
***On Thursday, the GT3 cars took to the streets of Budapest (pictured above) for a parade to Heroes’ Square, a local landmark founded in 1896 to commemorate the country’s 1000th anniversary which was also the historic site of the 1989 reburial of Imre Nagy, a leader of the Hungarian Revolution who was executed by the Soviet Union in 1958.
***Fans were out in full force at Heroes’ Square for the chance to meet the Blancpain GT drivers, many of whom hosted an autograph session. The racetrack itself is only 30 minutes outside of the city center.
***A replacement model for the Bentley Continental GT3 could debut in 2018, with a similar timeline likely for the McLaren 650S GT3 and Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. Lexus revealed its 2017 Super GT GT500 challenger this weekend and it is expected that the GT3 variant will make its European debut next year.
***Jeroen Bleekemolen is replaced by Marco Mapelli in the No. 16 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 this weekend, as the Dutchman is on IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship duty at Virginia International Raceway with Riley Motorsports.
***Lucas Ordonez returns to the series in place of Mitsunori Takaboshi, who is competing in the Suzuka 1000km this weekend. Ordonez partners with Alex Buncombe in the No. 23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
***The No. 6 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS has been ruled out for the remainder of the weekend after a heavy crash in Free Practice. It was due to be driven by Niki Mayr-Melnhof and Markus Winkelhock.
***All qualifying sessions and races will continue to be streamed live on the series’ official website, www.blancpain-gt-series.com, and on the series’ YouTube channel, while U.S. viewers can watch live coverage on Motor Trend on Demand.
***Eurosport will broadcast live television coverage of the Main Race on Sunday, presented by Mark Cole and Stuart Hall. The 90-minute show will also have highlights of Saturday’s Qualifying Race. It will air at 11:15 a.m. BST. A delayed two-hour show will be aired on CBS Sports Network for American audiences at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report