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March 26, 2017

Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone

Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone

Sixty entries took the start at Monza seven weeks ago and another full grid is in store for the race here. If Monza was “epic” and “electrifying” then what will Silverstone be like for tomorrow’s race? Fast and full of Brits is one thing, with 11 British teams and 31 drivers on the entry entry list.

This is a preview so it would be fair to ask — what is there to look forward to? Great racing between the various Audis, BMWs, McLarens, Ferraris, Mercedes, Lamborghinis, Nissans, Aston Martins, and Porches aside, pit-stops and congestion spring to mind.

The Blancpain Endurance Series entrants are using the National pits and there aren’t enough quite garages to go round. 60 cars on varying strategies as toward their own particular fuel consumption presents no real issue under racing conditions but when the safety car comes out; that’s 38 teams, 190 pit-lane personnel, 38 fuelling rigs filling 60 cars, and changing 240 tyres. This all within a small window of opportunity makes for a thrilling sight if efficiency is your thing at least.

Qualifying is set for a single early morning hour with 60 cars to each do a flying lap of the three and a half miles in three sessions of 15 minutes each. Things could get a bit edgy on the pit wall for some that may consider going out later-on in the sessions waiting for the track to warm up.

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Kessel Racing will be looking to follow-up their Monza Ramos/Rigon/Zampieri Pro class win and second place in the Gentlemen’s Trophy, although their odds are somewhat reduced by only bringing the Pro car across the channel.

AF Corse’s Pro-Am drivers Hommerson/Machiels/Bertolini were class winners at Monza and hope for a top-step repeat; Andrea Betollini believing that Silverstone is a good fit for them and they will be at the front or close to it.

AF Corse bring an additional Gentlemen’s Trophy class Ferrari 458 hoping for an improvement on 3rd last time out and to keep up with the SOFREV Ferraris, who were class winners at Monza. Jerome Policand of the eponymously named SOFREV/ASP team reflected upon a poor showing here last year, where they had their worst result, saying that their focus is very much upon on consistency over the season and eliminating mistakes rather than wringing the last tenth from their cars.

JRM bring two Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 machines, one piloted by Lucas Luhr, Peter Dumbreck and Steven Kane — and the other by Humaid Al-Masaood, Matt Bell and Charles Bateman.

Steven Kane and Peter Dumbreck from JRM
Steven Kane and Peter Dumbreck from JRM

SRO Motorsports Group Founder and CEO, Stephane Ratel, said: “The sheer variety of the grid shows how healthy GT3 racing is just now. British race fans are in for a treat this weekend.”

New for Silverstone

Aston Martin Racing brings a works car the short distance from Banbury with Pro drivers Frederic Makowiecki, Stefan Mucke, and Darren Turner behind the wheel of the factory Vantage.

For Fortec, Ben Hetherington, Stephen Jelley and Ollie Hancock arrive with a Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 to compete in the Pro Class.

Barwell add a Vantage GT3 in the Pro-Am class piloted by Mark Poole, Richard Abra and the talented young Brit Joe Osborne, who drove for Barwell back in 2009; all of whom ply their trade in British GT and should have their eye in as they were at Silverstone last weekend.

Barwell Motorsport: Abra, Osborne and Poole
Barwell Motorsport: Abra, Osborne and Poole

It’s been a busy week in the Trackspeed garage after all three of their Porsche 997 GT3 Rs were shunted last weekend in British GT. Too busy in fact as their new Twitter feed @TrackspeedGT revealed the damage was too much to repair in time.

Fellow British GT drivers John Gaw and Phil Dryburgh also bring their Vantage GT3 that they run under the PGF-Kinfaun AMR team banner. Gentlemen both, they will be hoping for a good showing at their home BES round.

AF Corse has entered a 3rd Ferrari 458 Italia in the Gentlemen’s Trophy. Perhaps their ability to deliver a car capable of 3rd in class at Monza tempted the French pair Yannick Mallegol, Jean-Marc Bachelier, and American Howard Blank to try their hand this weekend?

The race will be televised live on Motors TV – coverage starts at 14:45 Sunday. It’ll also be streamed live online http://www.blancpain-endurance-series.com. The highlights package on Channel 4 will be shown on Sunday June 9th at 06.10.

About The Author

Nathan Heywood

Nathan Heywood is the Blancpain GT Series correspondent and Racing.GT's tech guru. With his iconic moustache sadly hidden from view, you will be hearing a lot of Nathan's gentle Norfolk tones behind the microphone in Racing.GT's Periscope coverage.