The Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup looks set for a hugely competitive Pro-Am class battle this term, with a pair of high-quality squads announcing their line-ups for the year ahead.
Former class champions Oman Racing with TF Sport will return to the Pro-Am ranks, fielding a new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 for Ahmad Al Harthy, Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood.
The 2019 campaign will be Al Harthy’s third with the Tom Ferrier-led outfit, which competes in partnership with his own Oman Racing project. Together, Al Harthy and TF Sport clinched the Pro-Am class title in 2017, before graduating to the Silver Cup last term.
23-year-old Eastwood is also an established member of the team, having joined Oman Racing with TF Sport for its Silver Cup campaign last year. The Northern Irishman is a rising star of GT racing, with the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB title among his recent accolades.
The crew will be completed by experienced Turkish racer Salih Yoluc, who returns to the squad after contesting last season with Ram Racing. Prior to this Yoluc competed for Oman Racing with TF Sport in 2017, and has driven alongside Eastwood in other categories. The 33-year-old is also the reigning FIA GT Nations Cup winner.
“We can’t wait to be back to defend or 2017 Pro-Am title and it’s great to have Salih and Charlie with us,” commented Al Harthy. “We have the new Aston GT3, so we’re excited to be racing this over the season ahead.”
“This is a proven driver line-up and it’s fantastic to have three of our ‘own’ back racing again in the Blancpain Endurance Cup this year,” added team boss Ferrier. “We more than proved we can win at this level in 2017 with both the teams’ and drivers’ titles. Last year wasn’t perfect, but we aim to come back stronger and expect to be competing for victories and with that the Pro-Am championship.”
Team Parker commits to full Endurance Cup with new-spec Bentley
2019 represents the 100th anniversary of the Bentley brand, providing extra impetus for teams running the British marque’s Continental GT3.
This has seen the factory-linked M-Sport squad confirm two full-season Endurance cars, plus a brace of additional entries for the Total 24 Hours of Spa. What’s more, Team Parker Racing will once again add a Pro-Am effort having taken delivery of a new-spec Continental for the 2019 campaign.
The British outfit’s programme will remain largely unchanged from last year, with Derek Pierce and Seb Morris confirmed to handle the #31 machine. A third driver is yet to be named, though 2018 incumbent Rob Smith was part of the team’s line-up during the official pre-season test at Circuit Paul Ricard.
A change will be required for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, however. Parker plans to contest the full Endurance Cup, but will be without rising star Morris at Spa after the Welshman was rewarded for his strong performances with one of the additional Bentley Team M-Sport seats. As such the team will require at least one further professional driver for the season’s marquee event.
“I’m mega excited to be back in Blancpain for a second season with Team Parker,” said Morris. “It’s great to be back and especially with the new Bentley Continental as well.
“It’s obviously fantastic to be working with Derek again, the deal has all been possible thanks to his support and that of J&D Pierce (Contracts) Ltd so I’m looking to repay that faith in me with some big results.
“We did a good job last year in our first season in Blancpain, we had a couple of podiums and missed out on a couple of wins to be honest. We can learn from last year, put that experience into practice and hopefully mount a very strong challenge with the new car. It’s more developed, better on fuel and, generally, an all-round better package so confidence is definitely high.”
Team Parker and Oman with TF Sport join an impressive Pro-Am field for the 2019 Endurance Cup season. A total of eight cars will contest the class this year, with machinery from Bentley, Aston Martin, Mercedes-AMG, Audi, Ferrari and Lamborghini set tackle the season-opener at Monza (13/14 April).