Further enhancement of the Blancpain GT Series through more competitive classes and increased prize money, development of the GT Sports Club and Ultracar Sports Club, integration of Curbstone Track Events and last but not least the introduction of an Intercontinental GT Challenge: 2016 promises to be a fascinating year for the SRO Motorsports Group.
At the season finale of the 2015 Blancpain Endurance Series at the legendary Nürburgring Stephane Ratel, founder and CEO of the SRO Motorsports Group, unveiled the future plans for the company that has organised and promoted world class GT racing for the last 20 years.
New and important circuits on the calendar
As the flagship of the company, the Blancpain GT Series received a lot of attention during the well-attended press conference. The 2016 calendar of the biggest GT series in the world will include ten rounds : five Endurance weekends and five Sprint weekends. This should allow for a greater integration of the two series into a single Blancpain GT Series.
The calendar of the Blancpain Endurance Series remains largely unchanged, with the highlight of the season – the Total 24 Hours of Spa – retaining its slot at the end of July, 30th – 31st of July to be exact.
Meanwhile, a revised Sprint calendar now favours major circuits. Newcomers on the agenda are the Circuit of Catalunya near Barcelona, the Hungaroring near Budapest and the Nürburgring, as part of the immensely popular Truck Grand Prix-meeting.
As has been the case for the last few years, a good part of the Blancpain GT Series meetings will continue to enjoy the company of our high-level support series. The Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo and the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup will again be part of the Blancpain Endurance Series events in 2016.
To improve the integration of both Endurance and Sprint into a single Blancpain GT Series a redefinition of the three classes was needed. The categories will be harmonised over Sprint and Endurance as Pro, Pro-Am and Am, but the overall classification will apply for the podium ceremony, series classification and distribution of prize money, as already is the case in the Sprint Series today.
The Pro-Am Cup will undergo a revamp, with amendments to reduce the level of the driver line-ups. For the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the maximum line-up is now one Platinum, two Silver and one Bronze driver.
In the Blancpain Sprint Series the Pro-Am Cup line-ups will consist of two Silver drivers (of any age) or a Platinum and a Bronze driver as the maximum line-up, combinations which created the success of the FIA GT3 European championship for years. The Sprint Series also sees the introduction of an Am Cup, which will be reserved for two Bronze drivers.
SRO Silver Cup: low-cost introduction to GT3 racing
To promote GT3 racing at a lower cost, the “SRO Silver Cup” will be introduced over seven events, combining the five events of the Blancpain Sprint Series and two events of the British GT Championship. For this SRO Silver Cup, only 2014 cars in 2015 specification will be eligible, and the cars – which can be entered at a reduced entry fee - will be driven by Silver drivers only. During the races these cars will have a fixed pitstop time, and tyre changes will not be allowed. There will only be two sets of tyres per event. The cars will also have a specific BoP, with a lower weight and less power.
Reduced entry fees and increased prize money
In 2016 the entry fees will remain unchanged for the Blancpain Endurance Series and will be reduced for the Blancpain Sprint Series and full season entrants, to reflect the reduced number of races. On the ten events of the 2016 Blancpain GT Series the prize money per event will be increased to 150.000 euro per event, which will be distributed to more cars (11 instead of six previously).
These is how the prize money will be distributed at each of the ten rounds:
Overall classification: 30.000 euro for the 1st, 25.000 for 2nd, then 20.000, 15.000, 10.000 and 5.000 euro for the car in sixth.
Pro-Am Cup: 15.000 euro for the winner, then 10.000 and 5.000 for the cars in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Am Cup: 10.000 euro for the winner, 5.000 for the runner-up.
The prize money can only be collected by full season entrants in the Blancpain GT Series and is not payable to factory-supported cars (i.e. cars of which the majority of the budget is covered by a manufacturer). In addition to the prize money, Blancpain GT Series partners Blancpain (our title sponsor since 2011) awards watches to the Endurance and Sprint Drivers Champions and Pirelli 84 sets of tyres.
Rules adjustments and technical evolutions
To be eligible for the Pro category of the Blancpain GT Series, including the Total 24 Hours of Spa, at least two cars of each model must be entered at all rounds of the Blancpain GT Series (Sprint and Endurance, with at least one of them in the Pro category).
There will also be the introduction of a Bronze/Silver test in the Blancpain Sprint Series, for which an extra set of tyres may be used. Therefore, the first free practice of the Sprint meetings will be shortened.
On the technical side, the total weight of the car will now include the weight of the drivers, which will be calculated according to the average weight of those drivers. As far as the tyres are concerned, the 2015 Pirelli Endurance tyres will be used during all ten events of the Blancpain GT Series. During the races of the Blancpain Endurance Series a minimum pitstop time will be introduced, as well as a mandatory repair time for brake changes at the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Pirelli partnership renewed and extended to British GT
The SRO Motorsports Group continues to work in close relationship with tyre manufacturer Pirelli and has renewed the partnership for the Blancpain GT Series for the next five seasons. Furthermore the Pirelli partnership is extended to the British GT Championship.
2016 Blancpain GT Series Calendar
8th-10th March Official Blancpain GT Series Test Day Paul Ricard
08th-10th April Italy – Sprint
23rd-24th April Monza (ITA) – Endurance 3 hours
07-08th May Brands Hatch (GBR) – Sprint
14th-15th May Silverstone (GBR) – Endurance 3 hours
24th-25th June Circuit Paul Ricard (FRA) – Endurance 1000kms
01st-03th July Nürburgring (DEU) – Sprint
05th July Official Test Day Total 24 Hours of Spa (BEL)
28th-31st July Total 24 Hours of Spa (BEL) – Endurance 24 hours
26th-28th August Budapest (HUN)* - Sprint
17th-18th September Nürburgring (DEU) – Endurance 3 hours
01st-02nd October Barcelona (ESP) - Sprint
*subject to event promotor agreement
2015 saw the introduction of two brand new concepts, the GT Sports Club and the Ultracar Sports Club. Both have had an encouraging start, and it is no more than logical that for their second year of existence both get an increased number of events.
The GT Sports Club will travel to five circuits in 2016, with a round as part of the support races of the biggest GT race in the world, the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The GT Sports Club Village, epicentre of the paddock in between the track action, will be redefined and become even more attractive. The Ultracar Sports Club, the event that brings together the most exclusive cars in their natural habitat – the racetrack, will consist of three events next year.
There has been an ever-increasing interest from car amateurs to take exclusive cars – sometimes their own - to the race track, to be able to drive them in the safest conditions. For a long time these track days were just that: driving around a track.
The people of Curbstone Track Events felt there was something lacking and started their own track events. Events during which every aspect of a track day, from catering over safety to clear and efficient tutoring, were of the highest standards.
Soon it was clear that there were two distinct categories during such a Track Event: one part of drivers preferring to drive production cars, while the others would have a go at the wheel of a racing car. Even professional drivers and teams enjoy the pristine Curbstone organisation to add an extra test day to their schedule.
After six years, Curbstone Track Events has become the number one organiser for gentlemen drivers willing to take the step from track days to racing. Over the last three years, 25 Curbstone members have had their first racing experience, in national championships as well as international series as the Blancpain Endurance Series or the GT Sports Club.
It became clear to Stephane Ratel and the SRO Motorsports Group that Curbstone was the missing link between inexperienced drivers – of all ages – and the existing SRO Series. The aim is now to organise a Racing Academy, in cooperation with the Belgian RACB, to give those aspiring drivers a professional environment in which they can develop their racing careers.
In the future, there will be an important number of events on the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit and an extension of activities at the Circuit Paul Ricard. This will also represent some useful testing opportunities for GT teams.
more information on : www.curbstone.net
Patrick Van Glabeke (CEO Curbstone): “Over the last six years we at Curbstone Track Events created a unique concept for test and track days with GT and other racing cars on tracks across Europe. We noticed that some of our members found their way to actual racing. With the GT Sports Club, the SRO Motorsports Group offers a magnificent concept for gentlemen drivers. It was exactly what I wanted to do with Curbstone as well. Now that there will be a cooperation with the RACB within the Curbstone Racing Academy, a joint venture between SRO, RACB and Curbstone can provide all the missing links to create a bridge between track events and racing.”
Frederic Maeyens (General Manager RACB): "Through this project we will be able to promote the access to motorsports, with the cooperation of RACB Sport and by the integration of the RACB Racing School. We will also be able to offer our members new opportunities to take their cars to the racing track."
With full grids, close and exciting racing, the British GT Championship is one of the major GT3/GT4 competitions on the motorsport planet. The arrival of Pirelli tyres will allow for the full application of the Blancpain GT BOP.
Benjamin Franassovici (Series Manager British GT): "We are very excited to welcome Pirelli in 2016 as British GT’s official tyre partner for the next five years. The new partnership with British GT is part of a global plan for SRO and our platforms. Bringing our cars in line with the Blancpain GT Series is a perfect evolution. Using the same rubber also further enhances our recognised BoP in GT3 and GT4. The 2016 British GT calendar will be released soon, while I can also confirm that we’ve already received team commitments in both classes. Finally, I would like to thank Avon Tyres for their dedication and professional cooperation over the last ten years in British GT.”
As the interest and enthusiasm for GT Racing grows all over the world, the SRO Motorsports Group proposes to introduce an Intercontinental GT Challenge for 2016, the final name of which remains to be defined. This series, aimed at GT manufacturers in order to give their products a worldwide stage, would consist of four key GT endurance races, held across four continents, all of which have GT3 cars as the leading category.
There would be one race per continent: the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in Australia, a three-hour race at Austin in America, the Total 24 Hours of Spa for Europe and the 12 Hours of Sepang for Asia.
The objective is to motivate all of the manufacturers currently giving official support to entries at the Total 24 Hours of Spa to extend their support to the three other events. Since it is a lot more cost effective to fly drivers and engineers to events instead of flying cars and equipment around the world, SRO would encourage the manufacturers to support local teams.
Supercars Events, promoter of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, are excited by the prospect of participating in this Challenge. John Casey from Supercar Events said ‘we are very excited about the possibility of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour being a part of the Intercontinental Challenge. The details will need to be worked out, but we are confident that this can be done.’
Full details of the new Challenge will be released by the end of October.
Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT Racing
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2015, SRO promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series (with the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa), the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and the newly-created GT Sports Club and Ultracar Sports Club. SRO Motorsports Group has various franchise agreements, including the GT4 European Series.
SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC, a high-level technical centre at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.