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Monza Weekend Notebook

Jake Kilshaw’s notebook from the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup opener at Monza…

Photo: Olivier Beroud Images

***The minimum pit stop time was increased on Saturday evening to 72 seconds from 70 seconds. All pit stops for refuelling during this afternoon’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup opener will be subject to the minimum time, with a single-use one-second tolerance in three-hour races.

***While official on-track action didn’t start until Free Practice on Saturday morning, most teams took to Monza on Friday as part of a day of testing that saw over 60 cars set times. 

***Alex Demerdjian posted the best time of the test with his 961 Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 in the opening session while Barwell Motorsport’s Sandy Mitchell was fastest in the second test on Friday afternoon. Alexander Mattschull posted the best time in the Bronze Test later that day.

***Belgian Audi Club Team WRT originally decided not to run on Friday but its No. 17 Audi R8 LMS GT3 eventually turned laps. The Vincent Vosse-led operation has committed a pair of cars to the Endurance Cup this year.

***Jota Sport is supporting the new R-Motorsport entry this season through its partnership with Arden Motorsport. The team is running a pair of Aston Martin Vantage GT3s in the Pro Cup and the Jota delegation is headed by Gary Holland.

***The R-Motorsport program marks Aston Martin’s return to the Pro Cup, while Oman Racing Team with TF Sport moves from the Pro-Am Cup to new Silver Cup this season. Another manufacturer stepping up its Blancpain GT presence is Porsche, which will support a single 911 GT3 R run by Manthey Racing with an all-factory lineup. 

***Long-time HTP Motorsport engineer Renaud Dufour has made the switch to Black Falcon and will work with the team in Blancpain GT and the VLN this season. The German outfift has three Mercedes-AMG GT3s entered in the Endurance Cup with one each fighting for the Pro, Silver and Pro-Am honors. 

***Christian Vietoris was recently announced as part of Strakka Racing’s No. 44 Mercedes lineup but has since come down with glandular fever and has been replaced by Lucas Auer alongside Adrien Tambay and David Fumanelli. 

***Ford and Aston Martin Racing conducted tests with their GTE-Pro cars at Monza earlier in the week while Porsche is scheduled to run its 911 RSR with three days of testing at the northern Italian track next week.

***After making a one-off return to the series at Zolder two weeks ago, Boutsen Ginion could enter the Total 24 Hours of Spa with its BMW M6 GT3. The Belgian team took part in the test on Friday with Karim Ojjeh.

***Emil Frey Racing’s partial-season program with its venerable G3 Jaguar begins this weekend. The team is expected to run four races this season with the car, alongside a two-car full-season effort with the Lexus RC F GT3. It will be the Jaguar’s final season of competition as its homologation expires at the end of the year.

***The new Bentley Continental GT3 will only run with the M-Sport crew in the Endurance Cup and Intercontinental GT Challenge this year but the manufacturer will begin deliveries later this year. European customers are expected to take priority while U.S. deliveries will take place after the IGTC finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in October.

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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