The 2017 Blancpain GT Sports Club champions were officially crowned during SRO Motorsports Group’s prize-giving ceremony staged at the historic Palais Brongniart in Paris.
France’s former stock-exchange venue welcomed teams, drivers, manufacturers, sponsors and media from across all of the series promoted by SRO. This year’s end-of-season festivities had a special significance as Stéphane Ratel’s organisation celebrated 25 years of GT Racing with a prestigious and emotional anniversary gala that took place after the Awards ceremony.
Once again, SRO’s Bronze drivers-only championship saw a great variety of modern GT machinery and single-make or ‘trophy’ cars in action. Plenty of familiar names returned to enjoy racing their peers and they were joined by many news faces keen to experience the series’ exclusive and friendly atmosphere.
While there were exciting battles across all of Blancpain GT Sports Club’s categories, the season ultimately belonged to Anthony Pons, who drove his #72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 to four wins and three pole positions en route to the 2017 Overall title.
“I was delighted to be presented with the Blancpain GT Sports Club trophy in Paris and would like to thank Stéphane Ratel for giving us the great opportunity to race among friends in a very competitive series that offers a lot of track time,” said the Frenchman. “Hats off to Series Manager Maryon Kaczka as well; she is doing a tremendous job looking after all of us and working hard to make the championship such a success!”
In the Iron Cup reserved for drivers aged 60 and over, Kessel Racing’s Stephen Earle added to his Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup AM title after edging Artega Rennsport’s Klaus Dieter Frers by a single point in a thrilling mano a mano that lasted all year long.
“2017 has been a great season and what a way to celebrate and sign it off!” enthused the ever-smiling Texan. “I really enjoyed my season-long battle with Klaus Dieter Frers; we gave it absolutely everything but there can be only one winner. Last year, I lost out to the Iron Cup title by one point and this time it swung in my favour. More important is the fun we have out there on every weekend so let’s do it again next year!”
SRO Motorsports Group Founder and CEO Stéphane Ratel has been delighted to see the Blancpain GT Sports Club further strengthen its credentials as an ideal stepping stone and proving ground between club competition and professional-level racing in Europe and beyond.
“As we look back on the third campaign of the Blancpain GT Sports Club, we can only applaud the series’ growing stature as an integral and popular element on Blancpain GT Series weekends,” he said. “The concept of offering a dedicated and competitive platform to Bronze drivers is founded upon values that we have always held in high regard. These have been essential to SRO Motorsports Group’s philosophy and contributed to its success over the past 25 years. I’d like to extend my congratulations to Anthony Pons and Stephen Earle for their championship wins and I look forward to seeing them return in 2018 to defend their titles against increased and renewed competition.”
The six-round 2018 Blancpain GT Sports Club campaign begins with a first-ever trip to Monza, Italy on April 21/22.
2017 Blancpain GT Sports Club award winners
1st Anthony Pons, AKKA ASP
2nd Christoph Ulrich, AF Corse
3rd Karim Ojjeh, Boutsen Ginion
1st Stephen Earle, Kessel Racing
2nd Klaus Dieter Frers, Artega Rennsport
3rd Louis-Philippe Soenen, AF Corse
2018 Blancpain GT Sports Club Calendar
R1 Monza (ITA) – April 21/22
R2 Circuit Paul Ricard (FRA) – June 2/3
R3 Misano (ITA) – June 23/24
R4 Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) – July 21/22
R5 Hungaroring (HUN) – September 1/2
R6 Barcelona (ESP) – September 29/30