The championship’s one-hour Qualifying and Main Races, staged at Hungary’s 14-turn, 4.381km Formula 1 venue for the first time, could be crucial to deciding not only who scoops the various drivers’ and teams’ Sprint Cup titles but also the overall Blancpain GT Series crown, which tallies the results of all 10 Sprint and Endurance Cup meetings.
Last month’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, the Blancpain GT Series’ blue riband event, did not count towards the Sprint Cup points. However, it most certainly gave its winners a timely confidence boost heading into the summer break.
Alexander Sims and Philipp Eng had only scored one podium finish this year before triumphing in the Ardennes, but they will be hoping that victory acts as a springboard this weekend when the Rowe Racing BMW pair look to improve on their current seventh place in the Sprint Cup standings.
The men they and everyone else are chasing remain Rob Bell and Alvaro Parente whose consistency and victory at the previous Sprint Cup round in Germany aboard the Garage 59 McLaren 650S helped them to establish a slender three-point lead over WRT Audi duo Christopher Mies and Enzo Ide.
Bell will also have one eye on the overall Blancpain GT Series standings this weekend; the Briton currently enjoys a comfortable 35-point advantage over nearest rivals Maxi Buhk and Dominik Baumann. However, a good result for the HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG crew at the Hungaroring would also help them cut their 22-point deficit to Bell in the Sprint Cup title race.
Elsewhere, Michal Broniszewski and Giacomo Piccini’s five class wins from six starts has helped the Kessel Racing pair to establish a 26-point lead over Morgan Moullin Traffort and Jean-Luc Beaubelique in the Sprint Cup’s Pro-Am category. But with a maximum of 34 on offer this weekend - one for pole, eight for winning the Qualifying Race and another 25 for the Main Race - the chasing AKKA ASP crew remains very much in contention.
Things are a little more clear cut in the Am Cup where Claudio Sdanewitsch and Stéphane Lemeret can wrap up the Sprint Cup class title this weekend thanks to their 53-point lead over Christian Hook and Steve Parrow.
This weekend’s 36-strong entry features several changes to that of July’s Sprint Cup round in Germany. Stephen Earle and David Perel make their first short-format appearance of the season in their Am Cup-entered Kessel Racing Ferrari 488, while last season’s Blancpain Endurance Series championship-winning #23 Nissan GT-R will be driven by Lucas Ordonez and Mitsunori Takaboshi.
Alexander Sims, #99 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3: “It was very satisfying to win such a big race like Spa, especially as we did not expect it. But it has not changed BMW’s approach for the rest of the season, either. Honestly, we are taking every race as it comes and just trying to score solid points as and when the car and track allows. I am not sure the M6 will be particularly well suited to the Hungaroring given that it works best through fourth and fifth gear corners, and there are not many of those in Hungary. But, equally, we thought the same before racing at the Nürburgring last time out and achieved two top-10s there. Something similar would be great.”
Giacomo Piccini, #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3: “You never know what can happen in motor racing so we are definitely aiming to wrap up the Pro-Am drivers’ title in Hungary. It will be much easier if it is in our back pocket heading to Barcelona. I expect the Ferrari to be competitive, as it has been throughout the year, and we will be aiming to win. Both Michal and I love the car and team, which is probably why we have been so consistent and fast this season. Plus the Hungaroring is one of my favourite circuits; it is twisty and technical, but also very tough to overtake around. Qualifying is therefore really important as ideally we would like a few cars between ourselves and our class rivals.”
Provisional Entry List
Provisional event timetable
Friday 26 August
10:00 - 10:40: Free Practice 1 (Bronze & Silver drivers only)
10:40 - 11:20: Free Practice 1
14:40 - 16:00: Free Practice 2
Saturday 27 August
11:45 - 12:00: Qualifying 1
12:07 - 12:22: Qualifying 2
12:30 - 12:40: Qualifying 3
17:15 - 18:15: Qualifying Race
Sunday 28 August
09:20 – 09:40 : Warm up
12:30 - 13:30: Main Race
Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup info
• 2x free practice sessions
• 1x 55min qualifying session divided into three segments. Pole in each class receives one point
• 1x 60min qualifying race. Top-six finishers in each class receive 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 points
• 1x 60min main race. Grid decided by qualifying race finishing positions. Top-10 finishers in each class receive 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 points
• Driver and tyre changes must take place between 25 and 35 minutes in both races
• The Hungaroring is the fourth of five Sprint Cup rounds and eighth of 10 Blancpain GT Series events being staged in 2016
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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 2016, SRO Motorsports Group promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa, the British GT Championship, the Blancpain Sports Club with the Blancpain GT Sports Club and the Blancpain Ultracar Sports Club, the Competition 102 GT4 European Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
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 - and Curbstone, that provides ultimate track driving opportunities on world renowned race circuits in Western Europe for supercar owners, as well as test driving facilities for race car drivers.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.