April 21st and 22nd marked the kick-off of the Blancpain GT Series Europe season. After lining up on the grid of Italy’s legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza circuit, 53 cars vied with each other in the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, cheered on by 30'000 spectators. In parallel, the Blancpain GT Sports Club championship paid its first visit to the prestigious Italian venue, with 19 drivers competing in this first round. On the occasion of this 2018 season opening event, the brand celebrated its tenth year of involvement in GT racing.
Blancpain Endurance Series
Jointly created by Blancpain and the SRO Motorsports Group in 2011, this series of endurance races has become the world’s most widely followed and recognized GT competition. Three categories of drivers (Pro, Pro-Am and Amateurs) faced off during three hours for this first edition of the year which delivered a wealth of thrills and excitement. After a tightly fought duel with two race-leading Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars (#43 and #4), it was in the end the Audi R8 LMS #1 that crossed the line first thanks to an effective strategy adopted over the last laps of the competition. The trio composing the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT #1 – Christopher Mies, Alex Riberas and Dries Vanthoor – thus topped the podium, followed by the British team Mercedes/Strakka Racing #43, while the third spot was won by the German team Mercedes/Black Falcon #4. This is Audi’s first Monza circuit victory in the history of the
Blancpain GT Series.
As far as the Silver Cup is concerned, the Jaguar G3 #54 dominated the competition after an impeccable performance from the drivers of Emil Frey Racing. In the Pro-Am category, the Ferrari 488 GT3 #333 – driven by the Rinaldi Racing Team – earned the top ranking; while the Am Cup was won by the AKKA ASP team at the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #89.
Blancpain GT Sports Club
Exclusively dedicated to “gentlemen drivers”, this sprint championship has borne the Blancpain name since 2016, the date when the watch brand was officially appointed title sponsor. Each round of this event comprises two one-hour sessions: the qualifying race and the main race. A major new feature introduced this year was the “Titanium Cup” (for drivers between the ages of 50 and 59) which now complements the existing “Iron Cup” (for over 60s) and “Bronze Cup” (overall rankings), testifying to the progressive expansion of participants in this race. Unbeatable during this first round, the Italian driver Mario Cordoni (Ferrari 488 GT3/AF Corse #70) scored a double victory by winning the main Blancpain GT Sports Club race as well as the Titanium Cup. The Iron Cup was won by the American driver Stephen Earle (Ferrari 488 GT3/Kessel Racing #111), who put in one of the most sensational race performances of his career, starting from the back of the grid and moving all the way up to first place.
Blancpain and the world of Motorsport
For the past decade, Blancpain has unremittingly strengthened and diversified its involvement in the world of motorsport and established a leading profile among manufacturers, drivers and high-speed sports enthusiasts. Over the years, the Manufacture has become an international benchmark in GT competitions, including co-founding some of the world’s greatest championships in this discipline: the Blancpain GT Series Europe (composed of the Blancpain Endurance Series and the Blancpain Sprint Series), the Blancpain GT Series Asia and the Blancpain Sports Club. The brand is also the exclusive timing partner of the British GT Championship. Consistently at the heart of the action in its role as official timekeeper, Blancpain is committed to providing a unique experience in which the worlds of fine watchmaking and automotive mechanics meet and mingle.
The Blancpain experience
At each Motorsport event, Blancpain invites guests and friends of the brand to a dedicated VIP hospitality area. Uniting the worlds of haute horlogerie and cutting-edge motorsport, this is an ideal place where professional and amateur drivers as well as watch enthusiasts can meet up in a friendly atmosphere in order to share their passion and core values such as precision, performance and the quest for innovation. Within this setting, Blancpain provides its guests with an opportunity to experience races live from the inside by offering behind-the-scenes visits. Participants thus get a chance to see the Blancpain Timekeeping room, a place that is vitally important to the timing of each competition, as well as the TV production facility, the control center for live race broadcasting. The program also includes the famous “grid walk” on the track, before the start of the main race, as well as encounters with various teams and garages.
This unique experience continues in our VIP lounge with a chance to discover Blancpain’s cherished worlds of art de vivre and gastronomy. Guests are served carefully selected wines as well as refined dishes. They also have an opportunity immerse themselves in the Blancpain universe via an exhibition area dedicated to the timepieces from the Manufacture and enlivened by demonstrations given by a master watchmaker. Other surprises await guests in order to make this weekend an even more unforgettable experience.
Upcoming Blancpain GT Series (Endurance) and Blancpain GT Sports Club race dates
The second round of the Blancpain Endurance Series will take place in Silverstone, the historical home of British motor racing, from May 19th to 20th 2018; while the next Blancpain GT Sports Club championship event will be held at the Paul Ricard circuit on the weekend of June 2nd and 3rd 2018.