The Blancpain GT Series wowed crowds in the historic centre of Budapest earlier this evening when drivers and cars gathered in Hero Square to promote this weekend’s penultimate Sprint Series round.
Such a special event deserved a suitably impressive opening. And the sight of GT3 cars, accompanied by the FIA European Truck Racing Championship entries also appearing on this weekend’s Hungarian schedule, making the 17-kilometre journey under escort along public roads from circuit to city centre certainly provided it.
Hero Square, built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of Hungarians arriving in the Carpathian Basin, then offered a stunning backdrop to an evening featuring a drivers’ autograph session and opportunity for passionate local fans to get up close to the variety of machinery on show. Indeed, no less than 35 cars comprising eight different manufacturers will compete this weekend, the first time since 2011 that an SRO-promoted GT3 series has visited the Hungaroring.
Among those signing autographs was HTP Motorsport’s Bernd Schneider who won the very first FIA GT Championship race - a forerunner to the Blancpain GT Series - to be staged at the Hungaroring in 1998.
“I have great memories of that race with Mark Webber and the older CLK GT1,” said the German, who now - as then - is representing Mercedes this weekend. “We didn’t expect to win as I remember the Porsche being particularly strong, but everything went to plan. The expectation remains just as high all these years later! The competition has increased since then but we still expect to finish inside the top-five.
“The circuit has changed a little since then, too. Not much but a bit through a couple of sections, plus it’s been resurfaced. I was here a few years ago with the AMG Driving Academy but I can’t remember whether I’ve actually raced here since winning in 1998!”
This weekend’s track action begins with three practice sessions on Friday. They are followed by Saturday’s three qualifying segments and hour-long Qualifying Race, which decides the grid for Sunday’s full points-paying encounter.
Watch streaming and follow timing from every session live on www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live, and don’t forget to download the Blancpain GT Series app (available for Apple and Android devices) for more exclusive live content.
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