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Monza Saturday Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ Blancpain GT notebook from Monza…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***The final entry list for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup opener at Monza was confirmed right before Free Practice got underway. 153 drivers spread across 52 cars will take part in the event, of which 30 will be competing in the Pro Cup. Click here to download the list.

***The No. 42 Strakka Racing McLaren 650S GT3 that crashed heavily during Free Practice is expected to take part in Qualifying tomorrow morning. Both chassis arms at the front were bent following the impact, but the team should be able to repair the damage due to the modular nature of the McLaren chassis.

***Nick Leventis left the car under his own power after the crash, but will not race tomorrow. He was taken to the medical centre for a check up, where the medics found out he has a grade two tear of his medial collateral ligament. Leventis is currently in a full length cast and is expected to be sidelined for around 8 weeks according to Strakka Racing.

***The final Balance of Performance parameters for the McLaren 650S GT3 and Ferrari 488 GT3 were only finalized yesterday, as SRO was not able to check and verify everything during the official BoP test at Paul Ricard. Jean-Marc Gounon was on site to drive a car from each manufacturer during the Bronze Test.

***Nico Bastian replaces Mauro Ricci No. 87 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 this weekend. The 27-year-old Mercedes-AMG driver joins Jules Gounon and Jean-Luc Beaubelique in the Pro-Am Cup.

***Michael Avenatti was not able to make it to Monza due to business commitments. The American attorney was set to race the No. 86 HTP Motorsport Mercedes with Mike Skeen and Damien Faulkner, but is be replaced by local driver Gianmaria Gabbiani.

***Zakspeed has almost completely changed the lineup on the No. 32 Mercedes, with Luca Ludwig and Kevin Ceccon (both rated Gold) joining Immanuel Vink. The entry has therefor been moved up to the Pro Cup. Vinke crashed the car in Pre Qualifying, but was able to continue.

***One of the two Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3s entered by Motul Team RJN Motorsport is a brand new chassis, while the other has gone back to Japan for an extensive rebuild. For the first time, both cars will be competing in the Pro Cup, although only the No. 23 GT-R is backed by the factory. RJN is also no longer active in the Sprint Cup in 2017.

***During the 2016 season, drivers and teams were fined a total sum of €32,473 in the Blancpain GT Series and GT4 European Series. In accordance with the Sporting Regulations that sum was placed in the SRO Motorsports Fund, in order to be presented to the following charities: Stichting Daniel den Hoed (cancer treatment), The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, Womanity and C.A.D.R.E. (educational farm for adults with disabilities).

***Bénoît Tréluyer has arrived in the Blancpain GT Series with a fresh mindset. The former Audi LMP1 drivers shares the No. 2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT with Nathanaël Berthon and Stéphane Richelmi in the Endurance Cup this season. “This season, I want to enjoy myself and push my limits,” said the Frenchman. “In LMP, due to the technology, we drivers were dependent on the car and were less involved in the overall performance. This is not the case in GT racing where “attack” really does mean attack.

“After working with the best WEC team, I was expecting to go down a step… but that’s not the case. In addition, there is a very friendly atmosphere. The only difference is that here everybody speaks French, which is obviously a bonus.”

***The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe gets underway in Monza this weekend. The ninth edition of the one-make series for the cars of Sant’Agata Bolognese has seen a small decrease in entries compared to 2016, but still boasts a 35-car strong grid. Note that Blancpain is no longer the title sponsor of the championship in 2017.

***Rik Breukers and Jefferies Axcil Ramar won the first Super Trofeo race of the weekend in the No. 7 GDL Racing entry, 2.5 seconds ahead of Loris Spinelli and Mikael Grenier (Antonelli Motorsport) and Raphael Abbate and Yuki Nemoto (VS Racing).

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

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