Exciting 2016 season comes to a close at SRO Night of the Champions

29 November 2016
2016’s Blancpain GT Series campaign came to its formal conclusion last Sunday at the Tower of London where SRO’s Night of the Champions awards ceremony took place.

Attended by drivers and teams from all championships promoted and organised by the SRO Motorsports Group, the annual event again provided a wonderful opportunity to put 2016’s champions in a well-deserved spotlight.

The 2016 Blancpain GT Series proved to be an exciting affair, with the overall title, Sprint and Endurance Cups only decided on the final lap of the final race. HTP Motorsport duo Maxi Buhk and Dominik Baumann collected the trophy for the overall Blancpain GT Series drivers’ title, while their German squad also secured the teams’ crown for the first time. The Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup overall winners were Garage 59 trio Rob Bell, Come Ledogar and Shane Van Gisbergen, while Belgian Audi Club Team WRT driver Enzo Ide took the highest honour in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. Their respective teams collected the teams’ trophies as well.

This year’s Pro-Am category was dominated by Michal Broniszewski and Kessel Racing who won the overall, Sprint and Endurance Cup titles. Another Kessel Racing trio – Liam Talbot, Marco Zanuttini and Vadim Gitlin – took the Am Cup in the Endurance races, but the overall and Sprint Cup Am honours went to AF Corse and Claudio Sdanewitsch.

SRO’s Night of the Champions also featured the inaugural Sean Edwards Trophy, which is awarded to a driver aged 21 or under. They must have experienced both Sprint and Endurance racing during the season, and - as well as showing both speed and skill - have demonstrated the same spirit as Sean. For the 2016 season the nominees were Luca Stolz, Jules Szymkowiak and Dries Vanthoor, with the Sean EdwardsTrophy eventually going to Jules Szymkowiak. The 21-year-old Dutchman paired up with experienced Bernd Schneider this year, took the win in the Brands Hatch Qualifying Race and finished in fourth in the overall Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup standings.

The champions in the Blancpain GT Sports Club were honoured as well, with Michal Broniszewski taking the overall drivers’ title and Martin Lanting claiming the Iron Cup for a second year running.

 

Stephane Ratel (Founder and CEO, SRO Motorsports Group): “2016 was another eventful and successful season, with never-before-seen starting grids for all ten races of the Blancpain GT Series. The current formula clearly works and we are aiming to make it even better next year. The British GT Championship showed some close and exciting racing and the second season of the Blancpain GT Sports Club was a success as well. Furthermore, our successful participation in the Pirelli World Challenge gives the SRO Motorsports Group a true global dimension. Next year will see the introduction of the GT4 European Series Southern Cup in Europe, we will expand the Blancpain GT Sports Club and the Intercontinental GT Challenge will get a round in the United States. In short: we are looking forward to 2017! I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our drivers, teams, event promoters and partners, especially Blancpain and Pirelli, without whom it would not be possible to organise and promote our series.”

Dominik Baumann (2016 Blancpain GT Series overall champion): “I think this is my most important title ever. Maxi and I became European GT3 champions together in 2012 and now again overall champions in 2016, which is quite impressive. We had a hard time at Spa, due to the five-minute penalty, but we still scored some points for the championship. It is a pity we lost the Endurance Cup by one point in the end. But I really enjoyed Budapest, our first win in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, and our victory at Silverstone was just amazing.”

Maxi Buhk (2016 Blancpain GT Series overall champion): “I started the season with one clear goal: to have a good season, without mistakes. We did not know what to expect as our car was new. I wanted to confirm the success from last year, which worked out in the end. The team put in a strong performance this season. Obviously I am happy with the title, but from an emotional point-of-view nothing comes close to winning Spa in 2013.

Michal Broniszewski (2016 Blancpain GT Series Pro-Am champion): “It is a great feeling to have won this title, especially since it was not easy to win it. I started the season without any big expectations, because over the course of a season too many things can happen. I had some good weekends this season, but the nicest one was the Brands Hatch weekend. I competed in both the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup and the Blancpain GT Sports Club and at the end of the weekend I had three wins and one second place. A unique result.

Claudio Sdanewitsch (2016 Blancpain GT Series Am champion): “It still feels very good to have won this title. After all, this is one of the toughest championships around. I mainly focused on the Sprint races this year, but I had a taste of the Endurance events as well, and I would love to do some more Endurance races next year.

Enzo Ide (2016 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup winner): “This was the first time that I have won a championship at this level, and it is a great feeling. At the WRT team we have been working hard for a couple of years now, but there was always something that threw us back. Still, before the start of the season I was fully confident that the formula of a factory driver and myself could work. I have to admit that the Brands Hatch weekend, the first time we reaped the rewards with a third in the qualifying race and a win in the main, felt absolutely great. Since that weekend we were always at the front, claiming the title. I will be back next year to try and do it again!

Come Ledogar (2016 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup winner): “I started the year in a completely new environment for me, but I was quickly put at ease by the team. Rob Bell played an important role in that. The McLaren proved to be a fabulous car, but I have to admit that when I took the wheel for the final stint at the Nürburgring I was convinced we had lost it. When I crossed the line I kept asking where we finished, but I only got the message we were champions when I was almost at the first corner! It was quite emotional. And it is a good thing that the three of us finished on the same points total, despite Shane having to miss the final round.

Jules Szymkowiak (Winner Sean Edwards Trophy): “This is completely unexpected, I am a bit speechless, I must admit. It is a massive honour to receive this trophy. I think it is the result of all the hard work we have put in this year. It has not been an easy season, with some ups-and-downs. But driving with Bernd Schneider was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I think I got the most out of it. This Sean Edwards Trophy will certainly help me to set the next step in my career.

2016 Blancpain GT Series WINNERS - Drivers

Blancpain GT Series Overall
1st Dominik Baumann and Maximilian Buhk, HTP Motorsport
2nd Rob Bell, Garage 59
3rd Laurens Vanthoor, Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

Blancpain GT Series Pro-Am Cup
1st Michael Broniszewski, Kessel Racing
2nd Giacomo Piccini, Kessel Racing
3rd Morgan Moullin Traffort, Akka ASP

Blancpain GT Series Am Cup
1st Claudio Sdanewitsch, AF Corse
2nd Stéphane Lémeret, AF Corse
3rd Vadim Glitin, Liam Talbot, Marco Zanuttini, Kessel Racing

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Overall 
1st Rob Bell, Côme Ledogar, Shane Van Gisbergen, Garage 59
2nd Dominik Baumann, Maximilian Buhk, Jazeman Jafaar, HTP Motorsport
3rd Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet, Wolfgang Reip, Bentley Team M-Sport

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Pro-Am
1st Alessandro Bonacini, Michal Broniszewski, Andrea Rizzoli, Kessel Racing
2nd Henri Hassid, Philippe Giauque, Franck Perera, ISR
3rd Oliver Morley, Miguel Toril, Black Falcon

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup AM
1st Vadim Glitin, Liam Talbot, Marco Zanuttini, Kessel Racing
2nd Jean-Luc Beaubelique, Maurice Ricci, Gilles Vannelet, Akka ASP
3rd Pierre Ehret, Rinaldi Racing

Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup overall
1st Enzo Ide, Team WRT/Belgian Audi Club Team WRT
2nd Christopher Mies, Team WRT/Belgian Audi Club Team WRT
3rd Dominik Baumann, Maximilian Buhk, HTP Motorsport

Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Pro-Am
1st Michael Broniszewski and Giacomo Piccini, Kessel Racing
2nd Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Morgan Moullin Traffort, Akka ASP
3rd Jean-Philippe Belloc, Christophe Bourret, Akka ASP

Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Am
1st Claudio Sdanewitsch, AF Corse
2nd Stéphane Lémeret, AF Corse
3rd Christian Hook, Steve Parrow, Rinaldi Racing

2016 Blancpain GT Series WINNERS - Teams

Blancpain GT Series Overall
1st HTP Motorsport
2nd Belgian Audi Club Team WRT
3rd Team WRT/ Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

Blancpain GT Series Pro-Am Cup
1st Kessel Racing
2nd Akka ASP
3rd Rinaldi Racing 

Blancpain GT Series Am Cup
1st AF Corse
2nd Rinaldi Racing
3rd Kessel Racing

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Overall
1st Garage 59
2nd HTP Motorsport
3rd Bentley Team M-Sport

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Pro-Am
1st Kessel Racing
2nd ISR Racing
3rd AF Corse 

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup AM
1st Kessel Racing
2nd Akka ASP
3rd Rinaldi Racing

Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup overall
1st  Team WRT / Belgian Audi Club Team WRT
2nd HTP Motorsport
3rd Belgian Audi Club Team WRT 

Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Pro-Am
1st Kessel Racing
2nd Akka ASP
3rd Rinaldi Racing

Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Am
1st AF Corse
2nd Rinaldi Racing
3rd Kessel Racing

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Special Awards

Sean Edwards Trophy
Jules Szymkowiak

TM Performance Pitstop Challenge
Benoit Ducastel – Matthieu Lefevre, Belgian Audi Club Team WRT

2016 Best Car Performance Award by Pirelli
Bentley Team M-Sport

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2017 Blancpain GT Series Calendar

13th-14th March : Official Blancpain GT Series Test Day Paul Ricard
01st-02nd April : Misano (ITA) – Sprint
22nd-23rd April : Monza (ITA) – Endurance 3 hours
06th-07th May : Brands Hatch (GBR) – Sprint
13th-14th May : Silverstone (GBR) – Endurance 3 hours
02nd -04th June : Zolder (BEL) - Sprint
23rd-24th June : Circuit Paul Ricard (FRA) – Endurance 1000kms
04th July : Official Test Day Total 24 Hours of Spa (BEL) 
27th-30th July : Total 24 Hours of Spa (BEL) – Endurance 24 hours
25th-27th August : Budapest (HUN) - Sprint
15th-17th September : Nürburgring (DEU) – Sprint
30th Sept-01st October : Barcelona (ESP) - Endurance 3 hours
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Information : http://www.blancpain-gt-series.com
Press Images : www.blancpain-GT-series/pressmembers
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Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition

Since 1735, Blancpain has been contributing to the development of mechanical watchmaking, while conserving the traditional skills of its founder

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. 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 Levolution 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.

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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.

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SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT Racing

Since 1995 SRO has specialised in the promotion and organisation of motorsport series. Inextricably linked with GT racing’s revival, SRO predominantly promotes categories that adhere to its successful GT3 and GT4 regulations. Indeed, these rules - a common framework allowing manufacturers, teams and drivers to compete equally with one another - has helped establish SRO as the global leader in customer GT racing.

Today, SRO’s influence and organisation can be seen around the world. SRO's flagship is the European-based Blancpain GT Series, which combines the Sprint and Endurance Cups, of which the iconic Total 24 Hours is the highlight.

The same regulations and Balance of Performance parameters governing the Blancpain GT Series have been adopted in the United States by the Pirelli World Challenge (in which SRO is also a major shareholder), while the inaugural Blancpain GT Series Asia begins in 2017. In addition, the world’s best GT races from all four corners of the globe are brought together under the umbrella of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, and amateur drivers are also fully catered for via the Blancpain GT Sports Club.

Likewise, select European race weekends feature the Blancpain Ultracar Sports Club where the world’s fastest and most technologically advanced limited-production road and track-only cars gather to demonstrate their awesome capabilities.

SRO is also strong domestically. The multi-class British GT Championship, which it has presided over since 2005, pairs GT3 with GT4 machinery, while France’s national series - now known as the GT4 European Series Southern Cup - was recently added to its existing Northern Cup counterpart.

SRO also operates the SRO Race Centre by MMC - a high-level technical centre at Paul Ricard Circuit in southern France - and Curbstone Track Events, which provides ultimate track driving opportunities on world renowned circuits.

SRO Motorsports Group is chaired by company founder and CEO Stephane Ratel and has offices in London, Paris and Liège.

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photocredits Jakob Ebrey Photography