PREVIEW: 2018 Blancpain GT Series 3 Hours of Silverstone – Overall class


#63 GRT GRASSER RACING TEAM (AUT) LAMBORGHINI HURACAN GT3 MIRKO BORTOLOTTI (ITA) CHRISTIAN ENGELHART (DEU) ANDREA CALDARELLI (ITA) PRO CUP START OF THE RACE
Credit: SRO Motorsports

Silverstone will play host to a 52-car field of GT3 machinery this weekend when the Blancpain GT Series makes its annual trip to the historic Northamptonshire venue for a three-hour Endurance Cup race.

A total of 12 manufacturers will be taking part across four highly competitive classes, in what will be the eighth season that the series has raced at the 3.6-mile circuit.

After a breathtaking Endurance Cup opener at Monza, as well as Sprint Cup contests at Zolder and Brands Hatch, the 2018 campaign has started in typically exciting fashion, with this weekend promising to be full of unmissable Blancpain GT Series action.

Credit: SRO Motorsports

The British crowd will have no shortage of local favourites to cheer on during the Silverstone weekend, with two entries from the Bentley marque, Guy Smith and Steven Kane are likely to be of particular interest. The accomplished M-Sport squad debuted the 2018-spec Continental GT3 at Monza, showing impressive one-lap pace in qualifying before an incident-packed race shuffled them down the order.

While Monza demonstrated that the new Bentley is quick, progress will be the watchword at Silverstone with previous race winners Smith and Kane more than capable of springing a surprise in their #7 machine.

Credit: SRO/Patrick Hecq Photography

Their main opposition may well come from the Audi stable. The German marque has been dominant this year thanks to the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT squad, who claimed victory at Monza and then added two more wins last time out at Brands Hatch.

Christopher Mies, Dries Vanthoor and Alex Riberas head-up in the #1 machine with sportscar stalwart Marcel Fassler and Brit Stuart Leonard piloting the #17 Audi R8 LMS.
Audi have further representation in the Pro category, including a pair of cars from Attempto Racing.

The German squad have enjoyed an excellent start to 2018, with the duo of Steijn Schothorst and Kelvin van der Linde, joined aboard their #66 entry by Pieter Schothorst, and are proving to be the breakout stars of the season. The fifth Audi Pro entry comes from Sainteloc Racing, with Christopher Haase leading the three-man crew aboard the #25 R8 LMS.

Credit: SRO/Patrick Hecq Photography

Audi’s biggest threat at Monza came from Mercedes-AMG, with runners-up Strakka Racing and third-placed Black Falcon leading the hunt.

Strakka will be hoping to go one better with the #43 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Maxi Buhk, Maxi Goetz, and David Fumanelli, while the sister #44 machine will see British star Oliver Rowland make his Blancpain GT Series debut.

The final spot on the podium at Monza was secured by Black Falcon, thanks to Luca Stolz, Yelmer Buurman and Maro Engel with their line-up remaining unchanged for Silverstone.

Credit: SRO/Patrick Hecq Photography

There is further Mercedes representation from AKKA ASP Team, whose #88 car features British racer Adam Christodoulou alongside established international talents Raffaele Marciello and Daniel Juncadella. The #35 AKKA ASP machine, which runs under the SMP Racing banner, will see former Grand Prix racer Vitaly Petrov joined by Michael Meadows and Denis Bulatov.

Credit: SRO Motorsports

Aston Martin will be competing for Pro class honours thanks to Swiss outfit R-Motorsport, with their Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3s. Both cars will include a young British talent, with experienced sportscar racer Alex Brundle aboard the #62 and rising star Jake Dennis as part of the #76 line-up.

Last year’s three-hour race at Silverstone was won by the Grasser Racing squad with their Lamborghini Huracan GT3, with the Austrian team once again representing Lamborghini in the Pro class with three cars.

Credit: SRO Motorsports

The #63 crew head into this event as defending race winners and reigning champions of the Endurance Cup and overall Blancpain GT Series titles, with Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart and Andrea Caldarelli serious contenders once again. There is also local interest aboard the #82 car thanks to British GT ace Phil Keen.

Credit: SRO Motorsports

Porsche has embarked on a full-scale assault on the Endurance Cup this season, with factory-backed Manthey Racing entering a 911 GT3 R driven by Romain Dumas, Frederic Makowiecki and Dirk Werner.

Credit: SRO Motorsports

British supercar brand McLaren is represented by the Garage 59 squad, who took victory at this event in 2016, while series newcomer Lexus will be present with two cars run by Emil Frey Racing.

Credit: SRO Motorsports

Ferrari’s Pro class hopes rely on the #72 SMP Racing entry of Mikhail Aleshin, Miguel Molina and Davide Rigon, while Nissan squad GT Sport Motul Team RJN will hope for a good result on home soil with Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe and Matt Parry. This hugely competitive 25-car Pro class field is completed by two ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3s, with British rising stars Ricky Collard and Nick Yelloly among the driving talent.