***There will be 39 GT3s on the Misano grid this weekend.The No. 89 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jean-Philippe Belloc and Christophe Bourret (Pro-Am) will not take part in the meeting, with Bourret being unavailable due to an injury. However, the car will take part in the Blancpain GT Sports Club with Maurice Ricci behind the wheel. Click Here for the latest version of the entry list.
***Sergio Jimenez will be replaced by Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS. Jiminez was supposed to share with his 19-year-old protégé Rodrigo Baptista this weekend but is competing in the Brazilian StockCar championship instead. Albuquerque was already confirmed as the third driver in the No. 3 car for the Endurance Cup rounds.
***Contrary to what the entry list indicates, Rinaldi Racing will not enter a new Ferrari 488 GT3 this weekend. The German squad wasn’t able to take the delivery of its car in time for the race, with the team revering to its tried-and-trusted 458 GT3. Rinaldi will head straight to Michelotto after the weekend to help build up the new car, which it hopes the enter from the Monza round onwards.
***Due to the Qualifying Race on Saturday evening, the opening round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup will feature a rather unusual timing. Action in Misano starts on Friday afternoon with the first free practice, followed by the second free practice session on Friday evening. Saturday sees qualifying in the early afternoon, with the start of the Qualifying Race just before 9 p.m. CET. The Main Race will get underway at 2.15 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
***The qualifying format has remained the same, but because of the huge 39-car entry, a total of 20 GT3s will take part in the final Q3 segment.
***Misano was the site of arguably the biggest crash of the Blancpain Sprint season last year, with Laurens Vanthoor sustaining a fractured leg and hip following a coming together with Jules Szymkowiak’s HTP Bentley. “It’s the past, I want to look ahead, to the great season that is coming”, Vanthoor said. “Everything is ok now, as proven in the successful outings at Sepang, Dubai and Bathurst during the winter, and I spent more time than usual training during the break, both physically and mentally.”
***Audi Sport customer racing handed over the 50th Audi R8 LMS to ADAC GT Masters stalwart Yaco Racing at the end of last week. The company, now led by Chris Reinke, produced 137 cars of the preceding model, combined with the 50th R8 LMS of the new generation now totaling 187 GT3 models having been made in Neckarsulm.
***Besides the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, the Blancpain GT Sports Club will also kick off its season at the Adriatic coast this weekend. SRO’s sports car series for Bronze-only drivers will feature a 26-car grid. Ferrari is most represented with a total of 14 entries comprising 458 GTE and GT3 cars, as well as an all-new 488 GT3. Five Audi R8 LMS ultras are also on the list along with two Mercedes – one of which is the new-generation AMG GT3 model – and two Lamborghinis. A Corvette C6 ZR1 GTE and BMW Z4 GT3 complete the roster.
***Entries for the Sepang 12 Hours, the third round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, are now open. Minor evolutions will be introduced this year, mainly affecting driver stint/drive times and pairings. GT3 will have three podiums: Pro (3 drivers) Pro/Am and AM (up to 4 drivers). In GTC will benefit from division into two sub-categories: GTC Cup and XtraCup for more powerful machinery such as the Huracan and Audi R8. A Trophy will also be given to the highest finishing car of each brand. Sports Production & GT4 as per last year will have an overall podium. There will be a sole tire supplier for all classes.
***Eurosport will carry live coverage of Saturday’s Qualifying Race. Mark Cole and driver expert Stuart Hall – the 2013 WEC GTE-Am world champion – will be bringing British viewers all the action at 9 p.m. UK time, 10 p.m. for European viewers.
***North American viewers can watch same-day coverage of the event on CBS Sports Network, with a two-hour weekend highlights package on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET
***In addition to the television coverage, all qualifying sessions and races will continue to be streamed live on the series’ official website, www.blancpain-gt-series.com, with a new and improved live timing system as well and the GT World YouTube channel. Jack Nicholls will again lead the commentary, joined by multiple Grand Prix winner John Watson.