The Moscow Raceway is located approximately 80 kilometres to the northwest of the Russian capital. It was designed by famous racetrack architect Hermann Tilke and opened in 2012. The very first international race held on the track was a round of the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 championship; that race was won by current Blancpain Sprint Series leader Robin Frijns, who went on to claim the Formula Renault 3.5-title.
After two perfect scores in Brands Hatch and Zolder, Frijns and his Belgian Audi Club Team WRT-teammate Laurens Vanthoor now enjoy a healthy 27-point advantage in the drivers’ standings. Vanthoor has previous winning experience in Moscow as well, winning the Qualifying Race of the 2012 FIA GT1 World Championship. BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil drivers Atila Abreu and Valdeno Brito are Vanthoor and Frijns’ closest competitors, despite having missed the opening round in Nogaro. Abreu and Brito have far less experience on the Moscow Raceway than Frijns and Vanthoor, but during the previous races the Brazilian duo has shown that does not necessarily impose a handicap.
The Russian fans will certainly cheer for the two GT Russian Team Mercedes, fighting for Pro-Am Cup honours. Alexey Karachev and Alexey Vasilyev, with Christophe Bouchut and Marko Asmer as their respective teammates, will certainly be vying for the honour of being top Russian driver, but there will be added competition in the persons of Ivan Samarin (in the #56 Attempto Racing Porsche) and Mark Shulzhitskiy. The youngster from Vladivostok will be making his Blancpain Sprint Series debut at the wheel of the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R Nismo, sharing the car with fellow GT Academy winner Nick Hammann. The 22-year old, who grew up a stone’s throw from the Road America circuit, will start in his first international sprint race.
The Blancpain Sprint Series’ reputation of being the ideal series for young drivers wanting to make a name for themselves in GT racing is not only confirmed by Shulzhitskiy’s and Hammann’s presence, but also by the participation of 19-year old Max van Splunteren. Together with Jules Szymkowiak, the current leader of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux will form a dynamic Dutch duo at the wheel of the #83 Bentley Team HTP Continental. With the help of his various teammates, Szymkowiak has recently been edging closer to a podium finish; maybe the presence of the quick Van Splunteren (added to the fact that Szymkowiak has F3 race experience at the Moscow Raceway) will allow the youngster to take the final step towards a top-three finish.
Marc Shulzhitskiy (Nissan GT Academy Team RJN): “It has always been my dream to participate in a race in Russia. I have never raced at the Moscow Raceway, but it is a great honour for me to participate in this event. I am sure it will be an interesting race. I invite the fans to come over and I would like to thank Nissan for this wonderful present.”
Norbert Brückner (Bentley Team HTP team principal): “I am very pleased that we can finally give Max van Splunteren the chance to race the Bentley Continental GT3. He has been part of our team since we started testing with the car, and has already gained experience at numerous tests. He is now well prepared for his first race and we are convinced that he and Jules will be a very strong combination.”
Thursday 2 July
17:00 – 21:00 Autograph session & Car exposition in front of the Four Seasons hotel in Moscow
Friday 3 July
15:00 – 16:20 Free Practice 1
17:00 – 18:20 Free Practice 2
Saturday 4 July
09:00 - 09:55 Qualifying Practice
13:00 – 14:00 Qualifying Race
16:00 – 17:00 Main Race
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