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Barcelona Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s first Blancpain GT notebook from Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya…

Photo: SRO

***The event name for this weekend’s Blancpain GT Series finale has been changed to Festival de la Velocidad Legado Maria de Villota, remembering Spanish driver Maria de Villota, who passed away in October 2013.

***The Legado Maria de Villota initiative is supported by several ambassadors including Andy Soucek, Pedro de la Rosa, Carlos Sainz, Antonio Garcia and Marc Gene.

***Bentley Team M-Sport’s Soucek has been a key figure in an associated fundraising effort for Fundacion Ana Carolina Diez Mahou, which supports children suffering from neuromuscular and mitochondrial diseases.

***A charity dinner was held on the track’s pit straight on Thursday evening, with a display of cars including a Hispano Suiza Carmen electric supercar and a Superleague Formula car in Atletico Madrid colors, the team that both de Villota and Soucek drove for in the soccer-inspired championship between 2008 and 2011.

***Three paid testing sessions were held on Thursday prior to a fourth one this afternoon. All four sessions were topped by Mercedes-AMGs, with Black Falcon’s No. 4 car coming out on top in three sessions and AKKA ASP’s No. 90 Silver Cup entry quickest in Session 2. The best lap time was a 1:45.056 set by the Black Falcon car during Thursday afternoon’s first session.

***Raton Racing by Target went quickest in this afternoon’s Bronze Test, the first official session of the weekend. Its Am Cup-entered Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo is shared by Stefano Constantini, Antonio Forne Tomas and Christoph Lenz. Ram Racing and Rinaldi Racing led the Pro-Am and Silver Cup contingents, while Jens Reno Moller was the quickest Blancpain GT Sports Club entrant.

***The Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo took to the track during testing on Thursday and Friday, primarily for the purpose of collecting Balance of Performance data. Thomas Jaeger and the SRO’s BoP tester Jean-Marc Gounon both drove the new car, which will replace the current model next year.

***AKKA ASP team principal Jerome Policand has confirmed plans to run the new car in 2020. The team is celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend, marked by a cocktail party in its hospitality this evening.

***SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel will host a press conference on Saturday afternoon, outlining additional details and information regarding the company’s 2020 plans. 

***A clash with the ADAC GT Masters season finale at the Sachsenring has resulted in a number of changes to the 46-car entry list at Barcelona. Most notably, Grasser Racing Team’s lead No. 63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo is absent, with its drivers Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen all at the Sachsenring.

***Team principal Gottfried Grasser is also at the German track, with his brother Gernot in charge of the Austrian outfit’s sole entry at Barcelona, the No. 19 Silver Cup car for Lucas Mauron, Gerhard Tweraser and Arno Santamato.

***The absense of Bortolotti marks the first race that the Italian has missed since 2015. He’s competed in every Endurance Cup race since the 2015 season opener and, including sprint races, every Blancpain GT event since 2016.

***Franck Perera is also racing for Grasser at the Sachsenring, meaning he’s been replaced by Giacomo Altoe in Orange 1 FFF Racing Team’s No. 519 Lamborghini in Spain.

***Altoe’s International GT Open co-driver Albert Costa has been drafted into FFF’s No. 563 car to replace Dennis Lind, who is suffering from an illness. Altoe and Costa currently lead the GT Open standings for Emil Frey Racing, and drove at Barcelona in the series’ visit last weekend. Andrea Amici is in for Diego Menchaca in the No. 555 due to sponsorship issues for the Mexican, meanwhile.

***Marco Seefried will drive Dinamic Motorsport’s Porsche 911 GT3 R with Klaus Bachler also at the GT Masters finale, while at Attempto Racing, Valentin Haase-Clot replaces Kelvin van der Linde, who was crowned GT Masters champion last time out.

***One driver to prioritize Blancpain GT is Christopher Haase, who stays at Sainteloc Racing alongside Simon Gachet and Dorian Boccolacci, who is making his Endurance Cup debut. Steven Palette is replacing Haase at BWT Muecke Motorsport in Germany.

***Boccolacci lost his FIA Formula 2 Championship drive midway through the year and made his GT3 debut with Sainteloc in the Nürburgring and Hungaroring GT World Challenge Europe rounds. He could return to Sainteloc in a larger capacity next year.

***Sainteloc’s other car this weekend will be shared by Pierre-Alexandre Jean, Pierre-Yves Paque and Edouard Cauhaupe, with Markus Winkelhock prioritizing his BWT Muecke drive in GT Masters. Jean and Cauhaupe are second and third in FFSA GT4 France standings, directing competing with the current points leaders, who drive for Sainteloc.

***A number of other driver changes include Sean Walkinshaw replacing Paul Petit at Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, Eric Debard joining Tech 1 Racing and David Fumanelli replacing Gabriele Piana in Black Falcon’s Silver Cup car.

***Daiko Lazarus Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo has a new lineup of Jose Manuel Balbiani (from Rinaldi Racing), former ARC Bratislava and VSR driver Andrzej Lewandowski and August MacBeth (from Lamborghini Super Trofeo).

***GPX Racing has new ‘2019 Spa 24H Winners’ stickers on its Porsche 911 GT3 R, which returns to its Silver Cup lineup of Benjamin Goethe, Stuart Hall and Jordan Grogor. The team will run two cars in the Gulf 12 Hours: one for Hall and Goethe and another for Jean-Pierre Valentini.

***Giorgio Roda and Sven Mueller drove a Dinamic Motorsport Porsche in the GT World Challenge Europe finale at Hungaroring earlier this month, something that Roda says has “allowed me to regain my marks in a GT3”.

“My goal is to compete in the Blancpain GT Series 2020 at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 R at Dinamic Motorsport or elsewhere,” he told Endurance-Info. “Here, there are many cars, which contrasts with GTE in ELMS where the number of cars is quite low. The level is much higher in Blancpain than in ELMS.”

***Free Practice will get underway at 10:20 a.m. local time (4:20 a.m. EDT) on Saturday, opening up the track to all competitors for the first time. Pre-Qualifying will follow at 3:05 p.m. (9:05 a.m.).

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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