– 2016 Blancpain GT Sports Club champion returns
– In support of Blancpain GT Series’ Paul Ricard 1000kms
– No Blancpain GT Sports Club driver has ever won at both of the two opening events of the season
For round two of the 2019 Blancpain GT Sports Club, an impressive 22 GT cars from 12 teams will go head-to-head at the French venue of Circuit Paul Ricard, supporting the 1000km Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup race.
The Le Castellet track has been a regular on the Blancpain GT Sports Club calendar since the inaugural season in 2015, and continues to be one of the most popular events amongst the bronze-grade drivers.
It was a sublime series debut for Reno Racing’s Jens Reno Moller last time out, who gave the Honda NSX GT3 Evo a maiden victory at Monza. The Dane heads into this weekend as the championship leader and has recent experience of the French Grand Prix venue, having tested there in March.
Meanwhile, a familiar name returns to the field this weekend, as 2016 champion Michael Broniszewski links back up with the Kessel Racing squad that took him to the title. The Pole has since taken part in select Blancpain GT Series rounds and will sport the #1 on his Ferrari 488 GT3 this weekend.
Kessel Racing’s remaining driver line-up is unchanged, with current Iron Cup leader Stephen Earle, fellow class competitor Rick Peter Lovat, and Moller’s closest championship challenger Murod Sultanov all hoping for a return to the podium this weekend after impressive opening performances on board their respective Ferrari 488 GT3s.
In rival Ferrari camp AF Corse, five entries will tackle the 5.842 km circuit, with Mario Cordoni hoping to kickstart a championship challenge. The #51 Ferrari driver has good pace at Paul Ricard and was on pole position last year, but bad luck has denied him podium opportunities in the past.
Iron Cup regular Louis Philippe Soenen will look to use his experience of Le Castellet to keep class rival Lovat honest this weekend on board the #50 AF Corse Ferrari. Japanese driver Ken Abe is entering his second Blancpain GT Sports Club round with the team, as Frederic Fangio returns to the series a year after his last appearance. Joining them is former Blancpain GT Series driver Kriton Lentoudis, who becomes the first Greek to enter the series.
After missing the first round, BMS Scuderia Italia’s Luigi Lucchini returns to the venue in which he scored a remarkable debut series victory last year. The Italian will be back on board the Ferrari 458 GT3 that saw him take three wins last year, and is likely to be in the hunt again this time around.
HP Racing International’s Coach McKansy enjoyed a solid start to his season at Monza on board the #17 Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Last year’s runner-up was fourth overall in both races at Monza, and currently heads the Titanium Cup class.
The German’s closest class rival is ERC Motorsport’s Lee Mowle, who scored an impressive overall podium and Titanium Cup win on his debut last time out. On board the #44 Mercedes AMG GT3, the British GT convert has experience at Paul Ricard, having driven here in the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series.
Fellow Titanium Cup entrants HB Racing’s Dilantha Malagamuwa and Van der Horst Motorsport’s Gerard van der Horst are both running Lamborghini Huracan GT3s, with the latter continuing on board the newer spec ‘Evo’ version. Both trail Rinaldi Racing’s Vadim Kogay for third in the class standings, with the Russian looking to build on his promising performance in the season opener.
Malagamuwa is joined at the HB Racing stable this weekend by series newcomer Robert Zwinger, who switches over from the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series and will run another Huracan GT3.
StileF Squadra Corse have expanded their entry this weekend, running three cars for Pavel Strukov, who showed front-running speed at Monza, as well as series debutants Hardy Woodcock and Pete Mitchell. Woodcock will enter a Ferrari 458 GTE, with Mitchell utilising a 458 GT3 and Strukov continuing on board a 488 GT3.
Attempto Racing’s Bernd Kleinbach makes it five Lamborghini Huracan GT3s on the grid again this weekend, whereas new entry Capital Racing Team brings a Mercedes AMG GT3 for Russian Denis Remenyako.
The action at Paul Ricard begins on Saturday with two 30-minute practice sessions, followed by qualifying. The two races will take place on Sunday, both of which are live on the GT World YouTube channel, Blancpain GT Sports Club website and Facebook page.