Following a highly competitive race at a both heat- and rain-soaked Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in July, the 2019 Blancpain GT Series moves to the Eifel Mountains in Germany and the Nürburgring for Round Eight and the fourth and penultimate round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge.
28 cars will be on the grid for the weekend’s two one-hour race double-header, 14 in the Pro category, seven in the Silver Cup class, five in the Pro-Am category and two in the Am Cup class.
There are three changes changes on the entry list from the previous round at Zandvoort. Jamie Green replaces Frank Stippler in the #5 Belgian Audi Cub Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3. The #19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3, piloted at Zandvoort by Michele Beretta and Rolf Ineichen is not on the entry list but KESSEL RACING will, however, be joining the grid with the addition of its #111 Am Cup Ferrari F488 GT3, to be driven to Stephen Earle and Rory Penttinen.
With only two rounds remaining in the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge season, 23 points separate the top four driver line-ups in the overall standings. standings, Luca Stolz and Maro Engel, teammates in the #4 BLAK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3, head the table on 61.5 points, 8.5 points ahead of the #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini duo of Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli.
Consistency has been the name of the game for Stolz and Engel this season. The German duo have finished in the top four in every Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe race this year, results which have yielded three podium positions. Caldarelli and Mapelli have also enjoyed consistent results with a win at Misano in Race One and two second-place and two third-place finishes. The Italian pairing’s seventh place finish at Zandvoort in Race Two may well prove costly as the season draws to a close.
10.5 points behind Mapelli and Caldarelli is the #88 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes duo of Raffaele Marciello and Vincent Abril. Marciello and Abril have perhaps not enjoyed the season they were anticipating, given the former’s dominance of the 2018 season. Although the #88 won at Zandvoort in Race One, finishing out of the points in Race Two at Brands Hatch in May and again at Misano has meant that the #88 crew has work to do over the remaining four races.
In fourth place, and by no means out of the running, the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini crew of Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart. The #63 driver pairing finished on the second step of the podium at both races at Zandvoort and certainly have momentum going into the final two rounds.
In the Silver Cup class, Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer, teammates in the #89 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes, have enjoyed great success in 2019, taking two wins at Brands Hatch as well as a victory at Misano. Bastian and Neubauer, currently on 77 points, have a 15-point advantage over the #62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 pairing of Aaro Vainio and Hugo de Sadeleer. However, the R-Motorsport duo’s pair of wins at Zandvoort must mean that Bastian and Neubauer will need to be on their A-game in Germany if they want to secure the title.
Continuing the theme of close battles for the drivers titles, the Pro-Am Cup battle is equally as competitive. The crew of the #519 Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini, Phil Keen and Hiroshi Hamaguchi, hold a ten-point lead on 78.5 points, ahead of the #333 Rinaldi Racing driver pairing of Rinat Salikhov and David Perel, courtesy of class victories at Brands Hatch, Misano and Zandvoort. AF Corse’s #52 driver pairing of Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels are third in the standings, some 17 points behind Salikhov and Perel. With a maximum of 64 points on offer over the remaining four races, there is still everything to play for.
The Am Cup class has been a one-horse race and Wolfgang Triller and Florian Scholze, pilots of the #444 HB Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 already have the title sewn up.
Track action at the Nürburgring for the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe grid gets gets underway at 09:45 local time on Friday August 30 for Free Practice with qualifying starting at 09:15 local time the following morning. The lights go out for Race One at 14:30 local time on Saturday August 31 with Race Two at the same time on Sunday September 1.