The 2017 season came to a festive close in Paris, when the SRO Motorsports Group celebrated 25 Years of GT Racing. Part of the event at the Palais Brongniart was the traditional Awards ceremony, celebrating the 2017 champions.
Attended by representatives from all series and championships organised by the SRO Motorsports Group, the annual Award Ceremony was the perfect occasion to put this year’s excellent performances in the spotlight.
The champions of the Blancpain GT Series were of course present to collect their well-earned trophies. With an exciting finish at the final round in Barcelona, Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart took the most coveted trophy as new Blancpain GT Series driver champions, sharing the endurance drivers’ title with their team-mate Andrea Caldarelli. The 2017 Sprint Cup proved to be an even closer battle, with Robin Frijns and Stuart Leonard grabbing top spot only a couple of laps before the finish of the final race at the Nürburgring. The teams’ titles were split up between Grasser Racing Team (overall), Bentley Team M-Sport (endurance) and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (sprint). For both the Lamborghini and Bentley squads it was their first teams’ title in the Blancpain GT Series.
In the Pro-Am Cup, Alexander Mattschull and his Rinaldi Racing squad took the overall honours, with Daniel Keilwitz joining them on the top step for the Pro-Am in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. The Pro-Am division in the Endurance Cup had already been decided after the Total 24 Hours of Spa, with Aston Martin squad Oman Racing Team with TF Sport and its drivers Ahmad Al-Harthy and Jonny Adam taking a much-deserved title.
The Am Cup was dominated by Kessel Racing, the Swiss team taking both the overall and endurance teams’ titles. David Perel took the Am Cup overall drivers’ title, and shared the Am Cup endurance title with his team-mates Marco Zanuttini and Jacques Duyver, after taking the class win in the Total 24 Hours of Spa as well.
Not only representatives of Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Ferrari took to the top step to collect their championship trophies, Mercedes-AMG drivers joined the party as well, with Jules Szymkowiak and Fabian Schiller taking the 2017 Silver Cup.
The Sean Edwards Trophy, given in memory of the first FIA GT3 European Champion, and which is awarded anually to a driver aged under 21 competing in the Blancpain GT Series, was awarded to Ben Barnicoat.
The best pitstop crew was also put in the spotlight, with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT crew members Pierre Emmanuel Carry and Cédric Darimont winning the TM Performance Pitstop Challenge.
The car that managed to complete the highest number of laps in the 2017 Blancpain GT Series, the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG, was awarded the 2017 Best Car Performance Award by Pirelli. Jérôme Policand took to the stage to receive the trophy for the French squad.
Now that the 2017 season is over, the SRO Motorsports Group turns its attention to next year, with exciting innovations for the Blancpain GT Series, providing the most entertaining of GT competition on the motorsports planet. We wish everybody a well-deserved and happy winter break and see you all in 2018!
Gottfried Grasser (Team Principal GRT – Grasser Racing Team): « It still has not sunk in yet that we are the overall Blancpain GT Series teams’ champions and took the drivers’ title as well. Obviously we wanted to win, otherwise we could as well have stayed at home, but it was not a fixed goal at the start of the season. We did not really believe we could do it. It was only after Silverstone that we realised we had a shot at this. And when we took the title in Barcelona… I mean, this has always been my personal goal, ever since I started in GT racing. We’ve accomplished a dream. And when we took the title, everybody in the team needed two, three weeks to fully realize what we had done. But the next thing is: what do we work for in the future? The only thing is to try to keep the title next year. »
Brian Gush (Bentley Director of Motorsport): « After four years of hard work it’s great to get the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup teams’ title. It’s the result of a great team effort and really good to get this one in the bag. Now we have plenty to look forward to for next year, with the introduction of the new car. There is still a lot of hard work to do, and we have to prepare for the Bathurst 12 Hour as well, as the opening round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. »
Vincent Vosse (Team Principal Belgian Audi Club Team WRT): « SRO has again put the bar a bit higher this year. We had a difficult start to the year, and the Total 24 Hours of Spa – the most important race of the year for us – was not easy for us. But we recovered well, took the Sprint drivers’ title and even claimed a one-two in the Sprint teams’ championship. And we finished on the teams’ podium overall as well. All in all, I think the team did a great job this year. They never gave up and kept on working hard. And I have to congratulate SRO, on organising a championship of this high level. »
Ben Barnicoat (Winner Sean Edwards Trophy): « When I heard that I was one of the nominees for the Sean Edwards Trophy, I was convinced that Dries Vanthoor would win it, since he has had a great season. It has been tough for us this year, but we carried on working hard, and I am extremely grateful to win this award. I hope this helps me to secure my place on the grid next year. »