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Paul Ricard Friday Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ Friday Notebook from Paul Ricard…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***The official event poster for the Total 24 of Spa was released earlier this month. The Audi R8 LMS and Mercedes-AMG GT3 are put in the spotlight, while the BMW M6 GT3, last year’s winner, is nowhere to be seen. 2017 will mark the 69th edition of the Belgian endurance classic, which has grown into the biggest GT event in the world.

***More than 60 GT3 are expected to take part in the race, with Audi, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Nissan, McLaren, Mercedes, Bentley, Jaguar and Aston Martin all represented in the field. The official test day will take place on Tuesday July 4, where the entry list will be revealed in the course of the day.

***Click here to find the complete timetable for the entire week at Spa. The event gets underway on Tuesday, July 25 with a three-hour Bronze test, followed by the traditional parade over public roads to Spa on Wednesday. The Peugeot 308 Racing Cup, Blancpain GT Sports Club, FIA Formula 3 European Championship and Lamborghini Super Trofeo make up the support program.

***The Blancpain GT Endurance Cup will have to modify the date of the Paul Ricard meeting next year, as French Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place at the track during the June 22-24 weekend. Various options are under consideration. The 2018 calendars will be unveiled at Spa next month.

***The number of entries has further dropped to 58. Following the withdrawal of both Team Zakspeed Mercedes, HTP Motorsport also left one of its four cars home, with the No. 86 Pro-Am entered car of Damien Faulkner, Mike Skeen and Hunter Abbott being a no-show. Click here for the latest version of the entry list.

***For the first time in a while, Matt Griffin is driving something else than a Ferrari this weekend. The Irish driver got a call from Oliver Morley to replace Manuel Metzger in the No. 16 Black Falcon Mercedes and got permission from Ferrari for this one-off with a rival manufacturer.

***Tristan Vautier is not present in the Blancpain GT paddock this weeken, as the Frenchman is sorting out the renewal of his U.S. Green Card. Renger van der Zande takes his place alongside Daniel Juncadella and Felix Serralles in the No. 88 AKKA ASP car.

***For safety reasons, organizers considered it essential that all Bronze or Silver drivers who have not previously raced at Paul Ricard in night conditions undertake a track walk during the scheduled periods with circuit with circuit lighting, either Thursday or Friday evening.

***Pieter Schothorst replaces Connor De Phillippi in the No. 2 Audi Sport Team WRT factory-supported entry this weekend. The Nürburgring 24 winner is currently recovering from a bad virus. Schothorst shares the No. 3 WRT Audi with Jake Dennis in the Sprint Cup races.

***Several German manufacturers will showcase their GT4 models at Spa next month. HTP Motorsport and ROWE Racing are both looking into expanding their operations to GT4 racing, with the Mercedes-AMG GT4 and BMW M4 GT4, respectively.

***The No. 90 AKKA ASP Mercedes of Edoardo Mortara, Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows will have to serve a five-place grid place penalty this weekend. Meadows accrued three Behavior Warning Points over the last couple of races, most recently for a false start in the Zolder Main Race, which are automatically converted into a grid penalty.

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

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