***A total of 56 cars are set to take part in Sunday’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season-opener, following the withdrawal of the Am-class AF-2 Motorsport Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX. All cars and drivers lined up for a group photo on Friday evening, pictured above.
***Black Falcon’s second Mercedes-AMG GT3 arrived Friday afternoon, following a quick turnaround and rebuild. The German squad’s primary car, which was due to race this weekend as No. 57, was destroyed in the Nurburgring 24 Qualifying Race last weekend in a heavy end-over-end shunt by Nico Bastian.
***Team manager Sean Paul Breslin told Sportscar365 they had a total of three Mercedes-AMG GT3s, which forced them to repair the car that was nearly destroyed in last month’s VLN1 round to use this weekend. Hubert Haupt, Adam Christodoulou and Andreas Simonsen will pilot the AMG-backed No. 57 entry in the Pro Cup.
***Konrad Motorsport has finalized its driver lineup for this weekend, with Christopher Zoechling and Christopher Bruck being joined by Jules Gounon in the team’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3, which, as a result, has been moved up to the Pro Cup class. Both Josh Webster and Terry Borcheller, who were previously confirmed for the full five-round Endurance program, are not listed to take part.
***Second-generation driver Gounon, 21, makes his debut with Konrad, more than ten years after his father, Jean-Marc, drove for the team in the FIA GT Championship aboard one of the team’s Saleen S7-Rs.
***Despite an extensive winter testing program covering over 20,000 kms, Grasser Racing Team, as well as all of the Lamborghini customer teams for that matter, experienced a difficult weekend at Misano two weeks ago. GRT bounced back with a win in one of the ADAC GT Masters races at Oschersleben last weekend, courtesy of Christian Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen.
***Ineichen will compete with Bleekemolen and Mirko Bortolotti in the Endurance Cup this season. He replaces Vadim Gitlin, who was originally announced on the No. 16 Lamborghini Huracán GT3, but will instead drive one of the Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italias in the Am Cup.
***Bleekemolen, however, is set only for a partial season effort. The Dutchman told Sportscar365 that he’ll miss four of the ten Blancpain GT rounds due to conflicts with other series, primarily with his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship duties with Riley Motorsports.
***Head of Lamborghini Motorsport Giorgio Sanna told Sportscar365 that he’s in favor of the FIA’s BoP guideline instead of what’s currently seen in SRO, which he felt attributed to their poor performance in the opening round. “For sure in Misano we started with less performance than we expected,” Sanna said. “It’s clear the BoP often is the balance of the final result.
“We saw last weekend in Oschersleben [ADAC GT Masters] with 30kg less [weight] we were faster and the car aligned to the others. In our opinion, the balance we’ve achieved as a guideline from the FIA this year is the right base to work from.”
***While Dries Vanthoor was immediately on the pace during his GT3 debut at Misano two weeks ago, the now 18-year-old Belgian collected two Behavior Warning Points over the weekend by getting as many drive throughs during the Main Race. By avoiding a third point, the No. 1 WRT Audi he’ll share with Frédéric Vervisch and his brother Laurens will not get a grid penalty in Monza this weekend.
***A number of other drivers are carrying 1 BWP point into Monza. The list includes: Michele Beretta(not respecting racing line), Martin Plowman (speeding in pit lane), Niki Mayr-Melnhof (collision with No. 25 car) and Jack Falla (speeding in pit lane).
***Monza will mark the first ever Blancpain Endurance race where a minimum pit stop time will be imposed. The time will be determined before each event and will be calculated depending on the length of the pit lane, the target refueling time and the target minimum time for the tire changes.
***One of the main goals of this new rule was to stop teams making further expenses on the development of their fuel rigs. SRO stressed that it would still take a well-skilled pit crew to approach the minimum time.
***Belgian Audi Club Team WRT hasn’t sit still since winning the Misano Main Race. Immediately after the race the team headed to Spa-Francorchamps for a test session, followed by Brands Hatch on Friday. During the weekend WRT entered two cars in the ADAC Qualifying Race for the Nürburgring 24.
Vincent Wouters contributed to this report