The Blancpain GT Series has announced details of its biggest ever grid as 34 cars take on the Sprint Cup and a mammoth 57 cars do battle in the Endurance Cup.
30 cars will make up the fight for the overall Blancpain GT Series title when the 2017 season gets underway at Misano at the start of April with 11 manufacturers represented in both cups.
Like many years, Team WRT will be one of the bigger teams on the grid as they bring five Audi R8 LMS cars to the battle – four fighting for the overall title and one Sprint Cup entry for Enzo Ide and Chris Mies – a number of which are backed by Belgian Audi Club as the team look to take the overall title with former Audi World Endurance Championship drivers Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer leading WRT’s attack.
Also representing Audi across the season will be ISR Racing, who are bringing two cars for the overall title fight, as well as a single car for Saintéloc Racing.
Looking to hold on to their Endurance Cup crown is McLaren and, as announced yesterday, Strakka Racing will enter four McLaren 650S GT3s into the overall title fight with more than half an eye on making sure their Endurance credentials are maintained.
One manufacturer looking to upset the balance is Mercedes AMG, like last year they’ll be relying on the grunt of their GT3 to see them reach title glory and certainly have enough teams looking to make something happen. Leading the line for the three-pointed star is HTP Motorsport who will be entering three cars for the full-season, Maxi Buhk and Dominik Baumann already confirmed for the team.
That said, Team AKKA-ASP won’t be hanging around either as they confirm four AMGs for drivers including Daniel Juncadella, Edoardo Mortara and Raffaele Marciello.
Also running the Mercedes banner in the Endurance Cup only is a trio of cars for Black Falcon, a car for endurance legends Zakspeed and a single Sprint Cup car for Kornely Racing.
Lamborghini are going to be well represented in the Sprint and Endurance Cups with five Huracans in Sprint, Grasser Racing Team and Attempto Racing running two each with Orange 1 Team Lazarus making their debut with a single car.
In the Endurance Cup, those five cars double to ten with Ombra Racing, Team HB Racing and Raton Racing bringing a car each. Barwell Motorsport will bring a pair of Huracans for the Pro-Am Cup.
Reiter Engineering will make a return to Blancpain in the Sprint category for Lamborghini with a Young Stars entry running with the team’s own-build Gallardo R-EX.
Elsewhere, Ferrari will be represented strongly again with Kessel Racing back to defend Pro-Am honours, AF Corse return with a pair of cars and erstwhile GT racers Spirit of Race join the mega Endurance grid.
There is also a Russian flair to the Italian muscle as SMP Racing rejoin the pro field for the Endurance Cup.
There’s a German threat to the order in Endurance as Porsche are represented by two teams – Roock Racing, who enter two cars, and Team Herbeth who will enter a sole car.
Nissan are looking to the GT Academy crew to bring them back to the successes of a few years ago with Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe and Katsumasa Chiyo headlining a pair of cars.
Finally, a strong British manufacturer element is still apparent in the field as the factory Bentley Team M-Sport squad field two Continental GT3s, Emil Frey Racing bring their upgraded but still venerable Jaguar XKR G3s for Endurance events and Aston Martin will still be represented by a single car as TF Sport takeover the running of Ahmad Al Harthy’s Oman Racing Team Vantage, with Jonny Adam joining the Omani once again.
Stephane Ratel, Founder and CEO of SRO Motorsports Group, said: “Even though last year’s starting grids were already very impressive, we are very happy to see that the 2017 Blancpain GT Series will again be a reference when it comes to GT racing. With plenty of new teams and the best GT drivers in the world on the starting grid we have plenty to look forward to in the upcoming season. I can’t wait to be at the start of the first race. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our loyal partners, especially Blancpain and Pirelli, without whom this would not be possible.”