2018 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup: Circuit Zolder – Preview


Zolder hosts the opening round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup
Credit: SRO Motorsports Group

The 2018 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup season gets underway this weekend around Circuit Zolder, and despite a drop in entry numbers, there is still an immensely impressive entry list.  Here is our rundown on what to expect this weekend at the former home of the Belgian Grand Prix.

What happened in 2017 in Zolder?

Zolder was round three of five in 2017, with Robin Frijns and Stuart Leonard starting the Qualifying race from pole position.  The duo took overall honours in their Audi from the Mercedes-Benz of Michael Meadows and Raffaele Marciello, and Markus Winkelhock and Will Stevens  in their Audi as the top four were covered by less than two seconds.

Winkelhock and Stevens gained revenge in the main race, taking the victory while Frijns and Leonard dropped to third, with Filip Salaquarda and Clemens Schmid finishing as runners-up for ISR.

You can read the full race reports from last year hereQualifying race | Main race

What should I look out for this year?

Whereas previous years has seen a Qualifying race setting the grid for the Main race, there has been a change of scheduling in 2018, with two separate Qualifying sessions setting the grid for two separate races, each with the same amount of points.

Again there are four classes, Pro Cup, Silver Cup, Pro-Am Cup and Am Cup, but it is the Pro Cup that sees the majority of the entries, led by 2017 champions Robin Frijns and Stuart Leonard with Team WRT.

Christopher Mies and Alex Riberas will also line-up for the Belgian team, as will former Formula 1 racer Will Stevens and Dries Vanthoor, while there is set to be a fourth pairing, although the names and class they will compete in has yet to be revealed.

Emil Frey Lexus Racing will field two RC F GT3s, one for Albert Costa and Christian Klien and one for Stéphane Ortelli and Norbert Siedler, while Saintéloc Racing field an Audi R8 LMS for Simon Gachet and Christopher Haase.

There are a trio of Pro Cup entries from GRT Grasser Racing, with Andrea Caldarelli and Ezequiel Pérez Companc in the #19, Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart in the #63, and Loris Hezemans and Franck Perera in the #82.

Two Pro Cup entries come from the AKKA-ASP Team, with Nico Jamin and Felix Serralles in the #87, and Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows in the #88, while the final two confirmed entries in the category come from Attempto Racing, with Kelvin van der Linde, Steijn Schothorst, Pierre Kaffer and Pieter Schothorst sharing two Audi R8 LMS’.

There are just four entries in the Silver Cup, with Team Parker Racing lining up with Josh Caygill and Aron Taylor-Smith, AKKA-ASP Team with Nico Bastian and Jack Manchester, and 3Y Technology with Lukas Moraes and Andrew Watson.  A late addition sees AKKA-ASP fielding Vladimir Atoev and Alexey Korneev in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 under the SMP Racing banner.

There are also just the three confirmed participants in the Pro Am Cup, with Kessel Racing fielding a Ferrari 488 GT3 for Michal Broniszewski and Giacomo Piccini, with TP 12 Kessel Racing doing likewise for Piti Bhirombhakdi and Carlo van Dam.

The third entry comes from Saintéloc Racing, with one-time Formula 1 racer Markus Winkelhock partnering Nyls Stievenart in an Audi R8 LMS.

So far, there is just one entry in the Am Cup, with Boutsen-Ginion bringing a Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX for Pierre Feligioni and Claude-Yves Gosselin.

What is the schedule for the weekend?

Friday 6 April

Free Practice 1 – 09:15 (local time)
Free Practice 2 – 14:20 / 18:00

Saturday 7 April

Qualifying – 09:15
Race 1 – 13:10 / 11:10 – 1 Hour

Sunday 8 April

Race 2 – 13:30 / 12:15 – 1 Hour

Where can I watch Blancpain at Zolder?

You can watch the event live on the official Blancpain GT Series website as well as their YouTube channel, while there will also be highlights on BT Sport in the United Kingdom.

How can I keep up to date with all of the action over the weekend?

The Checkered Flag will be following the complete 2018 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup season in-depth throughout the year.

Where is Zolder?