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GT World Challenge Europe

Silverstone Weekend Notebook

Jake Kilshaw’s weekend notebook from the Blancpain GT paddock at Silverstone…

Photo: SRO

***Philipp Eng is making a surprise appearance in Boutsen Ginion Racing’s BMW M6 GT3, replacing Bronze-rated Philippe Steveny due to illness. The addition of Platinum-rated Eng, who makes his first Blancpain GT start since winning last year’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, moves the car from the Am Cup to Pro-Am.

***Eng was already on-site on Thursday to support Karim Ojjeh, the reigning Blancpain GT Sports Club champion who will now co-drive with the BMW factory driver.

***Romain Dumas has received an unusual penalty on account of him missing the drivers’ briefing while testing the Volkswagen ID. R electric prototype at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The Porsche factory driver, who is in ROWE Racing’s No. 98 Porsche 911 GT3 R, will have to deliver a 30-minute presentation during the 24H Spa weekend explaining why he wasn’t present at Silverstone on Friday.

***There are already 70 confirmed entrants for July’s 24H Spa, marking an increase over the grid size from the last few editions of the race. The full entry list will be released during the pre-event test on July 2-3.

***The event’s official poster was recently released, designed by renowned French illustrator Guillaume Lopez, and featuring the Bentley Continental GT3 center-stage, along with a Porsche 911 GT3 R, Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

***Orange 1 FFF Racing Team set the fastest time across Thursday and Friday’s four test sessions, while ROWE Racing was quickest in wet conditions on Thursday morning. Just over four hours of testing was available on the two days, ahead of the usual one-hour Bronze Test on Friday afternoon.

***Silverstone will be resurfaced next month, for the second time in two years. The new surface, on which the Blancpain GT Series was the first major championship to race last year, caused controversy later in the season.

***A lack of adequate drainage forced the cancellation of August’s MotoGP race, with too much standing water on the track. The new resurfacing will take place in June, while MotoGP has extended its contract with the track until 2021.

***AF Corse has brought a new chassis to Silverstone for its No. 52 entry driven by Niek Hommerson, Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini, after the regular car was damaged at Brands Hatch last weekend. The new car will run a red livery instead of its usual black color scheme.

***AKKA ASP swapped to a new chassis for its No. 87 entry after a crash during pre-event testing on Friday. The French team already had one of its other Mercedes-AMG GT3s from the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe on site, allowing Jim Pla, Mauro Ricci and Jean-Luc Beaubelique to swap cars.

***Bentley is running an unchanged lineup in its pair of factory M-Sport Continental GT3s since the last round at Monza. Steven Kane, Jordan Pepper and Jules Gounon share the No. 107 car, with Alex Buncombe, Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek in the No. 108 entry.

***Bentley Motorsport director Brian Gush told Sportscar365 at the California 8 Hours that it planned to take lineups “race by race”, possibly rotating drivers to give its additional drivers for the Total 24 Hours of Spa more seat time.

***Denis Dupont has joined Ombra Racing for the next three Endurance Cup races, up to Spa, making the switch from TCR competition. The Belgian had a couple of Blancpain GT Sprint Cup starts with 3Y Technology last year, and was set to compete primarily in TCR Europe but was forced to withdraw last month ahead of the start of the season.

***Tech 1 Racing is set to enter the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe rounds at Zandvoort, Hungaroring and Nürburgring with its Lexus RC F GT3. It is also still open to running a second chassis later in the season, possibly beginning at the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

***The French team is running double-duty again this weekend, competing at Silverstone in addition to its European Le Mans Series program at Monza. The two series clashed last month when Blancpain GT was at Monza and ELMS at Circuit Paul Ricard.

***Pierre-Yves Paque has been replaced by Nyls Stievenart in Sainteloc Racing’s No. 26 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo this weekend. The Frenchman has been forced to miss the race for family reasons, leaving Stievenart to co-drive with Fabien Michal and Markus Winkelhock.

***The minimum pit stop time has been set at 65 seconds, and is applicable for all cars, unlike last weekend at Brands Hatch when the minimum time was only for Pro-Am and Am Cup entrants, as per the new regulations for Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe events.

***Modena Motorsports is expected to enter the Total 24 Hours of Spa with a Porsche 911 GT3 R. The car will run in the Pro-Am class with Mathias Beche among the driver lineup. The Swiss driver is part of the team’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia program.

***Anthony Beltoise raced in the electric Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY series at Monaco on Saturday, driving the Jaguar VIP car at Monaco. The Frenchman has been a regular in SRO GT4 competition in recent seasons, driving for Sainteloc Racing in the French GT4 Cup last year.

***Eurosport will broadcast two hours of coverage presented by Mark Cole and Tom Gaymor, starting at 4:30 p.m. for UK viewers. The entire race can be streamed live on the series’ website and GT World YouTube channel.

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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