This weekend will see the Blancpain GT Series arrive at the Nürburgring. Not for the traditional round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup – which will take place on its regular date in September – but for the third meeting of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, as part of the Internationaler ADAC Truck Grand-Prix.
Leading the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup are German-Belgian duo Christopher Mies and Enzo Ide. With their #33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8, they won the main race at Brands Hatch and together with their third place in the qualifying race and the points scored at the season opener at the Misano World Circuit, Mies and Ide now have a total of 33 points.
Not that their advantage in the Sprint Cup is huge: they only have a single point in hand over HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG duo Bernd Schneider and Jules Szymkowiak. Schneider – who first raced on the Nürburgring in 1984, eleven years before his Dutch team-mate was born – is arguably the driver with the most experience on the grid, and the five-fold DTM champion still has plenty of speed in him. Expect the German-Dutch duo to shine in what is a home race for their team as well. They won the qualifying race in Brands Hatch, and would love to add a victory in the main race at the Nürburgring.
Equal on points with Schneider and Szymkowiak are Belgian aces Laurens Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch. Vanthoor, the 2013 FIA GT Series champion, knows the Nürburgring very well. He was the 2009 German F3 champion after all, following in the footsteps of… Fred Vervisch, who claimed that same title a year earlier. The two Belgian Audi Club Team WRT-drivers had the best possible start to the season by winning in Misano, but an eventful Brands Hatch meeting saw them add a mere two points to their tally. They aim to get their revenge, that is for sure.
You might think that with three driver pairings within two points at the top of the standings we’ve covered all of the favourites, but that would be far from the truth. McLaren-drivers Rob Bell and Alvaro Parente would love to add – at least – a podium finish to their two fourth places conquered in Misano and Brands Hatch. Especially since Rob Bell is now leading the overall Blancpain GT Series driver standings, after winning the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000 km last weekend.
Mercedes-AMG pairing Dominik Baumann and Maxi Buhk, who had to retire during the race in the South of France, are still looking for their first Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup win of 2016 as well and Bentley Boys Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet – winners of the first qualifying race of the season and third in Brands Hatch – are aiming to continue their series of great sprint results at the Nürburgring.
In the Pro-Am Cup and Am Cup of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup the leaders are trying to continue their almost faultless run. In Pro-Am Giacomo Piccini and Michal Broniszewski are going for their third consecutive win the Sprint Cup. It would give the Polish driver, who has won two out of three endurance races as well, an almost unassailable lead in the overall Pro-Am rankings. In the Am Cup Stephane Lémeret and Claudio Sdanewitsch only need to finish to retake the lead in the overall drivers’ rankings, but they would obviously not mind taking a third consecutive sprint win.
In the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Silver Cup everything is still wide open. After taking the win in Brands Hatch #19 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini-drivers Luca Stolz and Michele Beretta lead the standings, but they have only a 10-point advantage over their Attempto Lamborghini-colleagues Max Van Splunteren and Jeroen Mul.
As you can see, there is plenty to fight for on the short version of the Nürburgring Grand Prix track and if the infamous Eifel weather lives up to its reputation, we might see a surprise or two!