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Paul Ricard Friday Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ Friday Blancpain GT notebook from Paul Ricard…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***Several teams made use of the six-week break between the Silverstone and Paul Ricard Blancpain GT Series rounds to test at some of the upcoming venues. Grasser Racing Team, Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and M-Sport Bentley headed to Hungary for a two-day test on the Hungaroring, while AKKA ASP, Attempto and again GRT and WRT also lapped the Nürburgring sprint layout.

***While Emil Frey Racing is still busy building up its second Jaguar G3 chassis ahead of the Total 24 Hours of Spa at the end of July, the Swiss squad is divided in two this weekend. Besides the Jaguar it has entered at Paul Ricard this weekend, the team is also running a Lexus RC F GT3 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where Scott Pruett and official Lexus test-driver Akira Iida are set to take the wheel.

***A couple of weeks after officially confirming the return of the Group N class at Spa, it’s not clear yet whether the class will attract many additional non-GT3 entries to the race. There is some interest for the Bronze-only class with Belgian teams, though nothing is confirmed so far.

***Boutsen Ginion is most advanced with its plans for its Group N entry. The Belgian squad will try to bring together a 100 percent female lineup in its Renault R.S.01 in GT3 trim. If that doesn’t work out, a mixed lineup is also a possibility.

***Paul Ricard is the first “Type B” Balance of Performance track on the calendar this season. Crucially, Spa-Francorchamps also falls within this category, so the performance of all different GT3 cars will be closely monitored by SRO, as well as the manufacturers.

***The schedule for this year’s Paul Ricard 1000km/six-hour race has been slightly altered. The race will start two hours later at 6 p.m. local time and will finish at midnight. This will provide teams and drivers two extra hours of running in the dark, which will come in useful as they prepare for Spa.

***Audi DTM driver Eduardo Mortara will replace Frank Stippler in the No. 75 ISR Audi R8 LMS at Spa. The Italian will team with season regulars Filip Salaquarda and Marlon Stockinger. Meanwhile, Stippler will move over to the Phoenix entered Audi factory car.

***Nicolas Lapierre will reinforce the second No. 74 ISR car. The French ace will compete in the Pro Am Cup next to Brands Hatch pole sitter Franck Perera, Henry Hassid and Philippe Giauque.

***Rinaldi Racing has entered only two Ferraris for the race. The No. 333 Ferrari 458 Marco Seefried, Norbert Siedler and Rinat Salikhov competed with during the first two Endurance Cup races didn’t show up. Instead, Salikhov moved over to the No. 488 Ferrari 488 owned by his co-pilot Pierre Ehret (Am Cup). Stef Vancampenhoudt is absent this weekend, but should make a return for the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

***Alberto Di Folco was a last minute addition to the No. 38 Antonelli Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3, completing the lineup alongside Michela Cerruti and Raffaele Giannoni in the Pro Am Cup. Meanwhile, Paul Van Splunteren joins his son Max and fellow countryman Jeroen Mul on another Pro-Am Huracan GT3, the No. 100 of Attempto Racing.

***The Motorbase squad underwent an engine change on the No. 44 Oman Racing Aston Martin V12 Vantage following this morning’s Bronze test. The swap was completed in time for the Pro Am-entered car to take part in Free Practice. The sole Aston Martin is likely to receive a penalty ahead of the race.

***Saintéloc Racing will run a third Audi R8 LMS at Spa, one in each of the three major classes. Grégory Guilvert, Mike Parisy and Christopher Haase will chase the overall victory in the No. 26 car, while local driver Fred Bouvy joins fellow countryman Christian Kelders, Marc Rostan and Marco Bonanomi in the Pro Am Cup (No. 25). An older Audi R8 LMS ultra will be entered in the Am Cup for a yet to be confirmed lineup.

***HTP Motorsport is back to it’s carbon black livery, after the team’s Mercedes-AMG GT3s were dressed in a matt grey base color at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. The cars for that event came directly from the AMG factory and are not owned by HTP.

***Several WRT drivers and team members took part in a team building/training camp in the Alps in the days prior to this weekend’s event. Vincent Vosse was also part of the group tackling the mountains with mountain bikes.

Vincent Wouters (@VinceWouters) is a Belgium-based sports car racing reporter, providing coverage primarily of the Blancpain GT Series.


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