The Blancpain GT Sports Club returns to the scene of its very first race this weekend when Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya hosts the fifth and final round of this year’s championship.
The series has come a long way in a short space of time. Just 13 cars lined up for the inaugural event almost 18 months ago, but that number will swell to 24 for this weekend’s outing around the Spanish Grand Prix venue.
SRO’s series reserved for fully-amateur drivers is also the only international championship to balance GTE, GT3 and single-make cars in the same class, which not only guarantees variety but also a different approach to racing depending on each set of original regulations.
With the Overall title decided in Michal Broniszewski’s favour at Spa-Francorchamps in late July, all eyes are on the Iron Cup battle – reserved for drivers aged 60 and over – currently led by reigning champion Martin Lanting. The Monegasque has won four times this year, twice more than anyone else, but only enjoys an 11-point lead over main rival Stephen Earle whose superior consistency has kept him in title contention.
And with a maximum 33 points available in Sunday’s Qualifying and Main Races, the crown could still go one of two ways.
Lanting’s more recent winning experience at the circuit perhaps gives him the edge. He won last year’s Qualifying Race before losing the Main Race lead after clashing with another driver.
« I need to adopt a more thoughtful approach this weekend, » said Lanting. « My primary focus has to be the Iron Cup classification rather than the overall result, which is not really in my nature! I was never a big fan of Barcelona but I have received some private coaching in order to better understand it and my opinion has now completely changed! I really like it but need to avoid the same sort of thing as happened last year when my good friend Patrick Van Glabeke and I tangled! »
But Earle is also no stranger to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya having competed there in various series since 2002. His approach differs to Lanting’s this weekend.
“There are 33 points available and I am 32 ahead of Jan [Brunstedt] in third, so I can afford to be daring!