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Paul Ricard Pre-Test Notebook, Part 1

Laurent Mercier’s notebook from the Blancpain GT Series official test…

Photo: Laurent Mercier

Photo: Laurent Mercier

***The official Blancpain GT Series test begins tomorrow at 9 am local time but the garages are already filled. There’s nothing to report on the entry list, as 47 cars are set to take part. Two cars will skip the opening day of testing, namely the DKR Engineering and Chab Evolution BMW Z4 GT3s.

***The two-day test will also serve as a Balance of Performance exercise, where SRO test driver Jean-Marc Gounon will be turning laps in every car except the Porsche 911 GT3-R. The Frenchman will take the wheel of cars fielded by Audi Sport Customer Racing team WRT, M-Sport Bentley, HWA AG, BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS, Reiter Engineering, Blancpain Racing, Nissan GT Academy team RJN, Emil Frey Jaguar, ART Grand Prix, Ferrari Corse Clienti, Team LNT Ginetta Cars and Aston Martin Racing.

***With the regulations frozen, manufacturers are still not able to propose expensive upgrade kits. However, in the case of the McLaren MP4-12C, there have been some updates to the car, to improve its reliability and drivability for gentlemen drivers.

***With programs in the Blancpain Endurance Series and European Le Mans Series, ART Grand Prix has found a new home in endurance racing. Drivers are not yet finalized for both championships, however, Gregoire Demoustier, Alvaro Parente, Andy Soucek , Kevin Estre and Kevin Korjus will be on track this week. Estre will only be present on Tuesday before leaving to compete in the Twelve Hours of Sebring.

***Although its driver lineup has yet to be finalized, M-Sport Bentley a number of drivers, including Jamie Campbell-Walter, Stuart Hall and Antoine Leclerc are expected to test with the team this week alongside Steven Kane, Andy Meyrick and Guy Smith.

***Despite their presence at the test, Marc VDS Racing Team is not expected to defend its Blancpain Endurance Series title, with only the 24 Hours of Spa on the Belgian team’s program. Bas Leinders and Markus Palttala will be handling testing duties of the BMW Z4 GT3, the team having been requested by BMW Motorsport to attend for the BoP process. BMW factory driver Maxime Martin will not be taking part in the test.

Laurent Mercier (@LaurentMercier2) is the Editor-in-Chief of, the leading French-language source for the latest sports car racing news from around the world.

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