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SRO Press Conference News & Notes

A look at the changes in the Blancpain GT Series for 2016…

Photo: Brecht Decancq Photograpy

Photo: Brecht Decancq Photograpy

***The eligibility of the Pro category of the Blancpain Endurance Series (including Spa) will be limited to models of which at least two cars will compete in all the ten rounds. This means the Sprint Series will gain importance for manufacturers if they want to claim the Endurance title and battle for overall honors in the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

***In an effort to control costs, a minimum pit stop time will be introduced for the Endurance events. Stéphane Ratel referred to the Nürburgring 24, but the minimum time will short enough that teams will have to do an effort to make it.

***Additionally, at Spa every car will have to make a longer ‘repair’ pitstop before the 20-hour mark to ensure that cars won’t do the full 24 hours without a brake change.

***SRO will introduce a driver average weight, to give the heavier drivers an equal chance behind the wheel.

***A Bronze test will also be introduced in the Sprint Series. As a result the length of the first practice sessions will be shortened.

***Pirelli will remain the single tire supplier for the Blancpain GT Series for the next five years. The Italian tire manufacturer also added the SRO-organized British GT Championship to its portfolio, making it even more interesting for British teams to add an international program.

***Pirelli will only provide one specification of tires in both the Sprint and Endurance races next year. While both series had their own specific tire this season, the compound used in the Endurance Series will now be carried over to the one-hour races.

***Ratel said the goal of the new calendar is to provide a better integration of the Sprint and Endurance Series. Therefore the class structures have been harmonized. In the Pro and Pro-Am classes, the general classification and prize money will be based on the overall finishing order. Cars can now switch between classes during the season without a disadvantage.

***The maximum Pro Am Cup driver lineup for the 24 Hours of Spa will be reduced from Platinum-Gold-Silver-Bronze to Platinum-Silver-Silver-Bronze.

***Blancpain Sprint Pro-Am lineups have been revised to Silver-Silver (of any age) or Platinum-Bronze. The Am Cup will also be introduced to Sprint, with Bronze duos only.

***SRO has an agreement with the FIA to recategorize certain very fast Silver drivers, who aren’t Gold because they haven’t won anything significant yet, to Gold. The derogation will only be limited to drivers familiar to the SRO series.

***The Sprint Series Silver Cup will continue in a different format. Besides the five Sprint Series events, two British GT rounds are added to the mix for this cup that will be open to 2014-spec GT3 cars with 2015 update kits.

***In an effort to make the Silver Cup a cost efficient formula, teams are required to enter four cars, with two drivers per car. There will be a fixed pitstop time, two sets of tires per event, a spare car and a revised BoP with lighter and less powerful cars to lower the running costs.

***Entry fees will not increase in Endurance and will be reduced significantly for the Sprint Series.

***The prize money will be increased to 150,000 Euros ($170,000) per event, which will be distributed among 11 cars: top six in the Pro Cup (30,000 Euros – and below in 5,000 Euro increments), top three in Pro Am and top two in Am. It will only be paid to full-season Blancpain GT entries that are not factory supported and only if there is a minimum of three cars entered in a class.

***In addition to the prize money, all the drivers’ champions will receive a Blancpain watch worth 21,000 Euros. Pirelli will award 84 sets of new tires.

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

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