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Misano Saturday Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ Saturday notebook from Misano…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***SRO considered dropping the pit stop limitations imposed in Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup races last year. The technical department tested refueling devices with connectors allowing for a precise timing. The new connectors, however, were not adopted for the new season. This means the total length of a pit stop (from pit in to pit out) may still not fall within a time range specified for each track.

***While still four months away, the Total 24 Hours of Spa is already shaping up nicely with 33 full season Pro Cup entries. Stéphane Ratel confirmed to Endurance-Info the number of cars entered in the top class should surpass 40 for the Belgian endurance classic, an all-time high. The Frenchman was particularly happy Ferrari has finally embraced the Pro Cup with three 488 GT3s.

***Ratel also hinted to Sportscar365 that it could be possible the Acura/Honda NSX GT3 might become “fully available” next year, as he’d like to see the car compete at Spa and the newly adopted Suzuka ten-hour race.

***Relaunched in 2016, the National Group still exists this season. The class intended for cars from single-make series should add a couple of entries to the Spa starting grid. French team RMS has already indicated it is planning a return with its Porsche 991 Cup car.

***GT3 lap times have gotten quicker during the offseason. This was already clear when Franck Perera beat last year’s pole time on old tires during practice and it became even more apparent when Marco Mapelli went almost one second faster in qualifying today. The drop in lap times can mostly by attributed to the introduction of the the new Pirelli tires, with Pirelli’s Matteo Braga estimating there could be at least a couple of tenths in them.  

***Braga also confirmed that not all Pirelli-shod GT3 series will switch to the new P Zero DHD tire in 2017. “A few series started before the official SRO BoP was finalized, so we decided to keep a few of them on the 2016 tire, mainly in Australia, the U.S. and China. The plan is to change next year, to keep it stable,” he told Sportscar365.

***René Verbist, one of the founding members of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, has parted ways with the organization over the winter months. Verbist has now switched his focus to a brand new project with Cometoyou Racing, which will contest the TCR International Series with an Audi RS 3 LMS entrusted to the reigning champion Stefano Comini.

***As a result, WRT has also undergone a minor internal reorganization over the off-season. It’s believed the Vincent Vosse-led squad also considered switching brands at a certain point.

***The No. 3 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS will take part in the Qualifying Race later tonight. The car of Jake Dennis and Pieter Schothorst only managed just two out laps so far this weekend, before it ran into the same fuel system issue twice. On both occasions the car caught fire, although the engine was not changed the second time. The Sainteloc Audi experienced a similar problem on Friday.

***Former Blancpain GT racer Alex Zanardi discovered his passion for triathlon in 2014, and now he is preparing to tackle more of the challenges in 2017. On July 2, the BMW works driver will compete in the long distance triathlon Austria-Kärnten in Klagenfurt, and in October, he plans his third entry in the legendary event in Hawaii.

***Click here to download the final grid for this evening’s Qualifying Race.

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

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