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Paul Ricard Monday Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ first Blancpain GT notebook from Paul Ricard…

Photo: Nissan

Photo: Nissan

***NISMO’s long-time lubricants technical partner Motul is expanding its support of Nissan’s motorsport activities to a title sponsorship role in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. Both RJN Motorsport-run cars will feature Motul branding on the front and sides of the cars. Only the No. 23 Nissan receives factory backing this year, while the No. 22 entry has moved up to the Pro Cup.

***While Nissan is still competing in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, it is no longer racing in the Sprint Cup in 2017. “As you know the car is really suited to the Grand Prix tracks used for the Endurance races and there is also more focus on the new car now,” RJN team boss Bob Neville told Sportscar365. “I personally like the Sprint Cup and would love to have done it, but it wasn’t possible. The resources have shifted a bit.”

***AKKA ASP has added Edoardo Mortara to its driver roster in the Endurance Cup. The Mercedes DTM driver replaces Mathias Lauda in the No. 90 Mercedes-AMG GT3. The Italian will team with Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows.

***McLaren GT has confirmed Jonny Kane and Dean Stoneman as official factory drivers. They join Alvaro Parente, Rob Bell and Come Ledogar in the Factory Driver roster for 2017, which has now grown to five drivers. All five of them will compete for Strakka Racing in the series.

***Furthermore, Jazeman Jaafar has joined McLaren’s GT Driver Academy. The  24-year-old Malaysian came in second in the Endurance Cup with HTP Motorsport last year and will also race with Strakka Racing in 2017.

***SRO is testing a new numbering method in an effort to make it easier to identify cars on track. All participants at the test have their race number in a big font on the front windshield. It will be used during the entire season if the impact on driver visibility is limited.

***Paul Ricard is the last stop of a busy week of testing for both Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and Bentley Team M-Sport. The two teams started off the week with a two day-test at Misano, then moved on to Monza for another two days of running, before heading to Paul Ricard.

***Saintéloc Racing, AF Corse, HTP Motorsport, Team AKKA-ASP, Attempto Racing, I.S.R, Strakka Racing, Rinaldi Racing, Kessel Racing, Antonelli Motorsport, Attempto and Ombra Racing were also present at Misano, where the opening round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup will take place in three weeks’ time. Furthermore, Rinaldi Racing, Herberth Motorsport, RJN Motorsport and Grasser Racing Team were also testing at Monza in addition to WRT and M-Sport.

***Wolfgang Reip was spotted in the Paul Ricard paddock. The Belgian driver lost his Bentley factory drive following the signing of Audi LMP1 refugee Oliver Jarvis. Reip is still on the lookout for possible race outings this season.

***Pirelli has developed a new tire, which promises to be more efficient and last longer. Most of the teams are getting their first taste of the new rubber at Paul Ricard. The sole tire supplier only offers a single dry and wet compound.

***Stéphane Ratel was in attendance at the opening round of the Pirelli World Challenge at St. Petersburg last weekend. The Frenchman took an overnight flight and arrived at Paul Ricard in the early afternoon.

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

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