Mirko Bortolotti is feeling confident going into his title-defence season as he heads to Monza, the site of his first of four victories last season.
He sits second in the overall standings after a promising start to the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup season at Zolder two weeks ago, and has high hopes for the rest of the year.
The Italian comes into the season not only as reigning overall Blancpain GT champion but as Endurance Cup champion too, and looks to get the Endurance season off to a good start at his home race this weekend.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s good to be back in this championship, it’s going to be my fourth season in this championship and with Grasser Racing Team.
“Last year, we had a really good year, and we were able to take two titles out of three and have the success that we were all working so hard for.
“It’s going to be interesting and challenging to continue in this direction and to keep up the good work. That’s the main target for me.
“You cannot measure it only in success but the hard work and the work of the team in order to improve your overall package. That’s our goal. Obviously, trying to be successful at the end of the day.
“I think everyone’s here for that and it’s the same case for us. We will try hard to, if possible, repeat the season from last year, and be as successful as we can be.”
Stability at Grasser over the off-season could play into the team’s hands, with Bortolotti again teaming up with Christian Engelhart for the full season and Andrea Caldarelli as the third driver for the Endurance races.
With an unchanged team, co-drivers and car, this puts the 28-year-old in a position that many of his rivals don’t have.
Bentley Team M-Sport has a new car to get to grips with while AKKA ASP and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT have all altered their lineups since last year.
“It’s good to be working again with my teammates from last year, with Christian in the Sprint Cup and Christian and Andrea in Endurance,” Bortolotti said.
“We have a good lineup and we’re well prepared but it’s too early to say how things are going to turn out in the end. It’s a lot of work ahead of us so we’re looking forward to that.
“It helps because we know each other really well and the car really well. We know each other and we know how we work together.
“It can be helpful to take some decisions sometimes with setup because in this series we don’t have that much running time during the weekends.
“We know that we can trust each other and it’s definitely good to know the environment in which we’re working.”
While the Sprint Cup grid size has taken a hit this year, the Endurance Cup is as strong as ever with 54 cars listed for this weekend, including 24 Pro Cup entries.
Bortolotti is expecting tough competition from the outset and for the series to be as tight as ever.
“I think that WRT will be the main competition and in Endurance Cup I expect Bentley to be strong as well as Mercedes,” he said.
“They’ve been challenging us last year until the end. I expect those to be the top favorites but at the end of the day, in this championship, there is no favorite.
“It’s so close and everyone can be capable of taking race wins if they get the perfect weekend. I expect everything from everyone, basically.”