The record entry, which travels to the Adriatic coast as an official support category of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, proves the popularity and momentum of SRO’s sportscar series for Bronze-only drivers. It also represents a twofold increase in entries compared with the majority of races held during the inaugural 2015 campaign.
The Blancpain GT Sports Club is the only series to balance GTE-spec machinery with that of GT3, RACB G3 and single-make championships, so it is no surprise to see such an eclectic mix of cars entered for Misano. Indeed, 10 models built by six different manufacturers will be present.
Ferrari is best represented with a total of 14 entries comprising 458 GTE and GT3 cars, as well as an all-new 488 GT3. Five Audi R8 LMS ultras are also on the list along with two Mercedes – one of which is the new-generation AMG GT3 model – and two Lamborghinis. A Corvette C6 ZR1 GTE and BMW Z4 GT3 complete the roster.
Six cars have been added since a provisional entry list was issued in mid-March. These include two more Kessel Racing-run Ferraris driven by Michael Broniszewski and Wong Chong Yau Runme, as well as the Stile F Squadra Corse-prepared 458 of Yoshiki Ohmura. Black Pearl by Rinaldi’s Christian Hook completes the Prancing Horse ensemble. The JPB Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Jean-Paul Buffin is another newcomer to the grid, along with former FIA GT Championship driver Mauro Casadei whose Attempto Racing-prepared Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo is an Xtracup class entrant. AF Corse remains the single largest team present with six Ferraris entered.
Misano’s 4.226km, 16-turn layout is primarily known as a world championship motorcycle venue, but also hosted the final round of the maiden Blancpain GT Sports Club season in 2015. This year it moves to the start of the calendar, offering amateur drivers an opportunity to build on what they learnt there just six months ago.
With reigning Overall champion Massimiliano Bianchi opting against a title defence the way has been left clear for a new challenger to emerge. And, if last season’s Misano round is anything to go by, that will surely be AF Corse’s Mario Cordoni who heads to Italy’s Adriatic coast eager to maintain a 100% winning record after scoring victories in both the Qualifying and Main races last season.
“Misano is certainly one of my favourite circuits and of course I will be doing my best to maintain my winning streak there,” said the Italian, who also won both of last season’s races in Portugal. “Every championship and every race is unique with their own characteristics, but I will do my best.”
“Can I win the championship? Who knows! Don’t forget that last year I lost it after retiring with a 15-second lead in Barcelona, so you can never tell. But being part of AF Corse again obviously gives me confidence. They’re a wonderful team with a lot of experience.”
Cordoni’s main rival for this year’s crown could be AF Corse stablemate and reigning Iron Cup champion Martin Lanting, who rolled back the years to also finish fourth in the Overall standings. However, he’ll be facing a stiff challenge from six other drivers aged 60 or over, including 2015 runner-up Louis Philippe Soenen and third-place driver Michael Luzich.
Elsewhere, Patrick van Glabeke will be hoping his new Ferrari 488 GT3 provides the necessary performance to improve upon sixth overall last season, while former ELMS GTE Am champion Anthony Pons should be amongst the fastest of the series’ newcomers.
Saturday’s action begins with two 30-minute practice sessions followed by a 20-minute qualifying run. The 25-minute Qualifying Race takes place that same evening before drivers and teams return mid-morning on Sunday for their 40-minute Main Race.
Both Saturday and Sunday’s races will be broadcast live across Europe on Motors TV.
Provisional Entry List
Saturday 9 April
10:20 – 10:50: Free Practice 1
12:40 – 13:10: Free Practice 2
16:15 – 16:35: Qualifying
18:45 – 19:10: Qualifying Race (live TV)
Sunday 10 April
11:15 – 11:55: Main Race (live TV)
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About Blancpain GT Sports Club
Established in 2015, the championship offers amateur drivers a chance to fight their peers for overall race wins aboard modern GT machinery while also enjoying an exclusive and friendly paddock atmosphere. Equally, practice and qualifying sessions followed by non-pitstop 25-minute Qualifying and 40-minute Main Races ensure maximum track time. Drivers over 60 are also catered for thanks to the additional Iron Cup classification.
Equally, for gentleman drivers new to sportscars the Blancpain GT Sports Club provides an ideal stepping stone and proving ground between club competition and professional-level racing in Europe and beyond.
It is also an opportunity to bring a wider variety of GT cars together. Indeed, the Blancpain GT Sports Club is the only series to balance GTE-spec machinery with that of GT3, RACB G3 and single-make championships, offering owners of each the chance to race on a level playing field without investing in newer technology. Furthermore, in some cases it also provides a home for highly capable GT cars now replaced with newer models by manufacturers and teams competing in the sport’s upper echelons.
The Blancpain GT Sports Club acts as an official support championship to five Blancpain GT Series rounds in 2016.
Blancpain – Innovation is our Tradition
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
SRO Motorsports Group – The architect of modern GT Racing
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2016, SRO Motorsports Group will promote several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa, the British GT Championship, the Blancpain Sports Club with the Blancpain GT Sports Club and the Blancpain Ultracar Sports Club, the Competition102 GT4 European Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC – a high-level technical centre at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France – and Curbstone, that provides ultimate track driving opportunities on world renowned race circuits in Western Europe for supercar owners, as well as test driving facilities for race car drivers.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.