Connect with us

GT World Challenge Europe

Paul Ricard Thursday Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ Thrusday Blancpain notebook from Paul Ricard…

Photo: Brecht Decancq

Photo: Brecht Decancq

***Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is testing several new drivers at Paul Ricard as it’s still looking to finalize its driver lineups. 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robin Frijns is one of the drivers being evaluated. The Dutchman racked up considerable mileage yesterday, while Le Mans class winner Jean-Karl Vernay is also present in the South of France.

***One of the major talking points in the Paul Ricard paddock is the army of McLaren factory drivers at Von Ryan Racing. Rob Bell, Kevin Estre, Alvaro Parente, Bruno Senna and Shane Van Gisbergen are already confirmed for the entire Series, while Adrian Quaife-Hobbs will be the sixth and final piece of the puzzle. The 2012 Auto GP champion and GP2 racer is testing with the virgin white 650S GT3 today. The composition of the two driver crews is yet to be announced.

***The Paul Ricard Test Days mark the first appearance of DragonSpeed in the Blancpain Endurance Series paddock. “It’s been very positive so far,” team principal and driver Elton Julian told Sportscar365. “The speed came quite quickly yesterday, but there’s still a lot to improve on. I’m super happy with the series. There’s nothing quite like it in the U.S.”

***The Grasser Racing Team is running a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 that features distinct carbon black body panels on each side. The design of the side splitter was deemed too wide by the FIA, so a couple of body panels had to be redesigned.

***Grasser Racing team will compete exclusively with the Huracan GT3 until the end of the year, with delivery of the first customer cars expected by October.

***Mike Parisy, Vincent Abril and Harold Primat are set to race for Bentley Team HTP in the Endurance Series. Parisy was the latest to join the lineup that will compete in the hotly contested Pro Cup. A second Pro Cup car is under consideration for the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Even though the car still features ALD Automotive sponsorship, Belgian Nico Verdonck won’t be driving for the team.

***Two additional teams arrived in the paddock yesterday in time to prepare for the second and final day of testing. DKR Engineering has brought its BMW Z4 GT3, after already completing a test with Nick Catsburg at Circuit Zolder last week. Reigning Pro-Am champs Scuderia Villorba Corse also showed up with their Ferrari, Cedric Mezard and Steeve Hiesse are scheduled to take the wheel of the 458.

***The Blancpain Sprint Series looks set for a similar scenario, entry list wise, as last year. While there is certainly a good level of brand diversity in the 21-car field, there’s only one entry in the Silver Cup and two in Pro-Am. That would effectively mean that Fortec collects all the prize money on offer in the Silver Cup just by showing up, while GT Russian Team and  Fach Auto Tech would battle it out in Pro-Am.

***Black Falcon and BMW Team Brasil are two of the notable absentees this week. The Brazilian team led by Antonio Hermann added the Blancpain Endurance Series to its program this season, but didn’t show up at Paul Ricard. Caca Bueno, Sergio Jimenez, Valdeno Brito and Atila Abreu were already confirmed by the team.

***For the first time there will be a dedicated Blancpain Sprint Series test next week. Teams and drivers are expected at Misano (Italy), were they’ll get two days to familiarize themselves with their surroundings.

***Watch a teaser of the 2015 Blancpain Season, a video that was shown during yesterday’s press conference:


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


More in GT World Challenge Europe