Just like last year, the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona will host the final round of the Blancpain GT Series. However, unlike last season, the title decider at the Festival de la Velocidad will be an endurance race. Both in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and in the overall Blancpain GT Series the champions are still to be decided.
For the first time in its history, the Blancpain GT Series will be closing the season with an endurance event. On Sunday October 1st, the three-hour race on the Circuit de Catalunya will decide the 2017 title battle.
In the overall Blancpain GT Series, combining sprint and endurance races, the duel for the drivers’ title is between the Lamborghini-pairing of Mirko Bortolotti/Christian Engelhart and Bentley Boy Vincent Abril. Thanks to their three wins – the three-hour races in Monza and Silverstone, and the Sprint race in Brands Hatch – the Italian-German duo enjoys a healthy 22-point lead over Vincent Abril, one of the winning trio of drivers of the Blancpain 1000 Circuit Paul Ricard. With a maximum of 26 points to score in Barcelona, the Monegasque driver will face a difficult task.
In the teams’ standings, Bortolotti’s and Engelhart’s squad GRT Grasser Racing Team has the top spot as well. After the last of the sprint rounds at the Nürburgring, the Austrian team still has a 15-point lead over their two remaining title contenders, Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and reigning champions HTP Motorsport. The odds are in favour of GRT Grasser Racing Team’s first Blancpain GT Series title, but in the past stranger things have happened as proved in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup decider at the Nürburgring.
With the overall Blancpain GT Series Am Cup titles already secured by David Perel and his Kessel Racing squad, and Alexander Mattschull certain of the Pro-Am drivers’ title (his sole contender Daniel Keilwitz is sharing the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari with the German), the only remaining overall title to attribute is the Pro-Am teams’ crown. In those standings Rinaldi Racing has an 11-point lead over Ferrari-colleagues Kessel Racing.
Endurance Cup wide open
But since the Barcelona round is now a long-haul event, there are several Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup title chases still wide open as well. In the driver standings the Bentley Boys Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet and Vincent Abril have eight points in hand. The latter will face the same competitors as for the overall Blancpain GT Series title, for Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart, together with their endurance team-mate Andrea Caldarelli, are in second. All other drivers are out of contention for the title.
The teams’ title confrontation sees the same drivers lining up against each other – together with the other drivers and cars of their outfit – here the gap between Bentley Team M-Sport and GRT Grasser Racing Team is 16 points.
After finishing second in their category in the Total 24 Hours of Spa Jonny Adam, Ahmad Al Harthy and their Oman Racing Team with TF Sport were certain of claiming the endurance Pro-Am Cup, but in the Am Cup category nothing is decided yet. In the drivers’ standings Total 24 Hours of Spa-winners Jacques Duyver, Marco Zanuttini and David Perel enjoy a 20-point lead over Rino Mastronardi and Pierre Ehret (Rinaldi Racing), the same gap separating Kessel Racing and Rinaldi Racing in the teams’ standings of the Endurance Am Cup.
And although Andy Soucek will be the only Spanish title contender during the three-hour race at the Festival de la Velocidad, his countrymen will have plenty to cheer for, with the presence of Miguel Molina (Ferrari) and Daniel Juncadella (Mercedes-AMG). They finished second and fourth respectively at the Circuit Paul Ricard round. More Spanish success could be seen in the Pro-Am Cup category of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, in which Miguel Toril was one of the drivers of the winning Mercedes-AMG. Former Blancpain Endurance champion Lucas Ordonez (Nissan) has had a difficult season, but will certainly try to finish the year on a high.