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Monza Friday Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ Friday BES notebook from Monza…

Photo: SRO

Photo: SRO

***Fifty nine of the 60 originally entered GT3 cars have shown up for the Blancpain Endurance Series season-opener at Monza, as French team Sport Garage left one of its cars at home after a crash earlier this week.

***Five American drivers are set to take part in the three-hour race at Monza this weekend. Andrew Palmer will be giving the new Lamborghini Huracán its long awaited-debut, while Elton Julian takes on a double role as team principal and driver for DragonSpeed. 2012 Porsche GT3 Cup USA champ Sean Johnston joins a competitive Black Falcon lineup in Pro-Am, the class in which Emerson Newton-John (Attempto McLaren 650S) will also compete. Stephen Earle returns to Kessel Racing in the Am Cup.

***The No. 1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra is a brand new car. Robin Frijns crashed the No. 1 in Nogaro last weekend, damaging to the chassis. A group of mechanics left France immediately, arriving in Belgium in the early hours of Monday with the wounded R8. In parallel, a similar expedition was organized from the team’s home base to Germany to fetch a new chassis from Audi Sport. The car was rebuilt in three days, on time to start the journey towards Monza and will feature a slightly different livery with light blue accents.

***The new Lexus RC F GT3 is not expected to make an appearance in the Blancpain GT Series this session, but there are rumors that the Japanese GT3 could show up in the Nuerburgring-based VLN series later this year, ahead of a more elaborate effort in 2016.

***As expected, Greg Guilvert and Edward Sandström will be Eduardo Mortara’s teammates in Monza. The potent trio will compete on the Pro Cup-entered Saintéloc Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra. Mortara replaces Stéphane Ortelli in last year’s lineup, which only missed out on a Monza win by a mere five seconds.

***I.S.R. has finalized the lineup on its second Audi R8 LMS ultra entered in the Pro Cup. Anders Fjordbach, Fabio Onidi and Andrea Roda will form an all-silver trio. Roda originally had a deal in place to race with Algarve Pro Racing in Silverstone, but team withdrew its entry.

***With 2014 GT Academy Europe winner Gaetan Paletou racing in LMP3 at Silverstone, his seat in the RJN Nissan GT3 at Monza has been taken by German laureate Marc Gassner. He joins fellow countryman Florian Strauss and Mexican Ricardo Sanchez in the Pro-Am Cup. For the first time Nissan RJN is also mounting a Pro challenge in the BES, with Alex Buncombe, Wolfgan Reip and Katsumasa Chiyo sharing the No. 23 car.

***A new trend has established itself in the series as no less than 14 Pro-Am and Am entered cars will only compete with two drivers. In these cases the Bronze driver has to do two stints in the Pro-Am Cup. A lineup of three drivers is mandatory in the Pro Cup.

***View a selection of photos from the Monza paddock, as teams setup their pit box and reveal new colour schemes.

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

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