Photo: European Le Mans Series / Jakob Ebrey Photography.
Hello and welcome to the April 19 edition of the EGT Friday Sportscar Round-Up, this week brought to you in association with Student Motorsport. Founded in 2011 by JP Latham, Student Motorsport is a network, website, resource and organiser of collaborative projects designed to help young people take the right path to success and help them stay focused on the motorsport aims and future careers. Read more about Student Motorsport and how you, as an industry professional, educational institution or student, can become involved here.
In a packed edition this week we have news from the opening round of the Blancpain GT Series at Monza, the European Le Mans Series from Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Long Beach. We also look forward to the opening weekend of the British GT Championship with 35 entries gathering at Oulton Park for the first two races of the 2019 season.
Blancpain GT Series:
The 2019 Blancpain GT Series got underway at a wet and chilly Autodromo Internazionale Monza over the weekend of April 13 – 14.
49 cars were entered for the opening three-hour race with 19 entries representing seven manufacturers in the Pro category, 13 in the Silver Cup class, seven in the Pro-Am category and 10 in the Am category.
Rain threatened to literally put a dampener on proceedings and qualifying got underway on Sunday April 14 in heavy rain, causing multiple stoppages. The weather for qualifying on race day was not as biblical, however, as had been forecast, meaning that pre-Qualifying results from the day before did not have the significance that they might otherwise have had.
The #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, piloted by Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart, took the overall pole position with an average lap time of 2:05.295 set over the three 15-minute sessions. Joining the #63 entry on the front row was the #90 Akka ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 Silver Cup entry with the driver line-up of Timur Bogulavskiy, Felipe Fraga and Nico Bastian, the averaging a lap-time of 2:05.743 around the iconic 4.250 km circuit.
The Pro-Am pole was taken by the Salih Yoluc, Ahmad Al Harthy and Charlie Eastwood-crewed #97 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Barwell Motorsport started from pole in the Am class with its #77 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with driver line-up of Adrian Amstutz, Leo Matchitski and Miguel Ramos.
The first round of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series got underway behind the Safety Car in treacherous conditions with Mirko Bortolotti in the pole-sitting #63 Lamborghini starting to pull out a gap. Bortolloti brought the GRT Lamborghini in for the driver change still leading but weather was continuing to affect proceedings and it was Jake Dennis, at the wheel of the #76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin, who pulled out a ten-second lead over Raffaele Marciello in the #88 Akka ASP Mercedes.
As the race drew to a close, the #54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by Klaus Bachler, took the lead, courtesy of a puncture for Christophe Haase in the #25 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
Bachler held on for the win, to the delight of the team for which Monza had been its debut race in the Blancpain GT Series.
Teammate Andrea Rizzoli was delighted at the victory.
“Honestly, I never though I’d be coming through to win today!” said Rizzoli. “It was difficult at the start. I just tried to do a safe, clean job and let my teammates do the work later on. They were so fast. It’s just incredible to be here, winning my first race in the Pro category.”
You can read the full Race Report here.
European Le Mans Series
The European Le Mans Series got underway at Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet on Sunday April 14. In contrast to Monza, Le Castellet was bathed in warm sunshine and an enthralling opening round was won by the #2 DragonSpeed ORECA 07, piloted by Henrik Hedman, James Allen and, taking the chequered flag, Ben Hanley. Hanley brought the DragonSpeed car home just under seventeen seconds ahead of the #28 IDEC Sport ORECA, crewed by Paul Lafargue, Paul Loup Chatin and Mémo Rojas.
Victory in the LMP3 category went to the #17 Ultimate Norma M30, piloted by Mathieu Lahaye, jean-Baptiste Lahaye and François Heriau.
Ferrari finished 1 -2 in the LMGTE class with the win going to the #51 Alessandro Pier Guidi / Niklas Nielsen / Fabien Lavergne-crewed Luzich Racing Ferrari F488 GTE Evo which took the chequered flag a lap ahead of the #83 Kessel Racing entry, piloted by Manuela Gostner, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting.
You can read the EGT Race Report here.
British GT Championship
The 2019 British GT Championship gets underway at Oulton Park, Cheshire over the Easter Weekend of April 20 -22. 35 cars will be on the grid for the opening two one-hour races.
14 cars will contest the GT3 category, representing seven manufacturers. 21 entries will compete in the GT4 category, demonstrating the competitive capabilities of seven manufacturers.
Track action for the British GT Championship grid gets underway at the iconic, old-school circuit at 09:30 on Saturday April 20 with FP1 with qualifying beginning at 15:15 later in the afternoon.
The lights go out for Race 1 at 11:15 on Monday April 22.
The 2019 season promises to be a classic. You can read the full EnduranceandGT preview here.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship reached its third round on April 12 – 13 with the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.
Two classes were racing on the Californian street circuit with the win in the DP1 category going to the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi driven by João Barbosa and Filipe Albuguerque, the #5 car finishing less than a second ahead of the Acura team Penske Acura DPi piloted by Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves. Completing the podium positions in the DPi category was the sister Acura Team Penske Acura, the #6 car driven by Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron.
Victory in the GTLM category went to the #912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Early Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor. The Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs finished second and third, the #3 car, driven by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, finishing .146 seconds ahead of the sister #4 entry piloted by Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner.
After three rounds of the 2019 season Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani lead the DPi drivers standings after finishing sixth in their #31 Whelan Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, with Hélio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor just two points behind.
Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor lead the GTLM drivers standings on 91 points, four points ahead of Nick Tandy and Patrik Pilet.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship meets next at Lexington, OH for the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.
FFSA Championnat De France GT
Along with the British GT Championship, the domestic French GT championship gets underway at Circuit Paul Armagnac, Nogaro over the weekend of April 19 – 22.
The GT4 championship entry list has 48 entries for the opening round, competing across the three series categories.
Two one-hour take place over the course of the weekend with the lights going out for the start of Race 1 at 15:45 local time on Sunday April 21 and Race 2 getting underway on Monday April 22 at 13:50 Local time.
With the weather across Europe looking considerably better than last weekend, the EnduranceandGT team hopes that, wherever you are and whatever your plans, that you have a fun weekend.