23 giugno 2016
Le Castellet, 23 June 2016 - The Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km is the fifth round of the 2016 Blancpain GT Series marking the halfway point of the championship. Even though plenty of drivers and teams use the six-hour race in the south of France as a dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Spa, the points on offer make the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km an appointment not to be missed.
Overall. With 27 cars in the Overall category, the top class of the Blancpain GT Series enjoys its biggest entry since the start of the season, making the Saturday evening race (start at 6 pm, finish at midnight) an even tougher challenge. Two AF Corse Ferrari will be competing in this class: the no. 50 488 GT3 driven by Pasin Lathouras, Michele Rugolo and Alessandro Pier Guidi and the 458 Italia GT3 of Ezequiel Perez Companc, Raffaele Giammaria and Alessandro Balzan.
Pro-Am Cup. In the Pro-Am category, no matter what happens, Michal Broniszewski (#11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3) will leave Le Castellet as the leader in the overall rankings. He has a 29-point lead over Giacomo Piccini, but the Italian is Broniszewski's team-mate in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup and will not take the start in Le Castellet. In the Pro-Am standings of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup the situation is different. Thanks to their victory in Silverstone, Black Falcon-drivers Maro Engel, Miguel Toril and Oliver Morley have a small advantage (three points) over the Aston Martin-squad of Johnny Adam, Devon Modell and Ahmed Al Harthy. Michal Broniszewski - together with co-drivers Bonacini and Rizzoli - is one point further down the order.
Beretta on track. There will be twenty one GT3 cars in the Pro-Am category at Le Castellet. Reigning Pro-Am endurance champions Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin make their comeback after missing Silverstone, now sharing the #52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 with Davide Rizzo. An extra Ferrari (this one a 458 Italia) is entered by French squad CMR with Sport Garage, but the most followed newcomer in Pro-Am might be Stéphane Kox, who joins Jiri Pisarik and Matteo Malucelli on the #34 Scuderia Praha Ferrari. The 22-year-old daughter of GT and Touring Car legend Peter Kox (himself at the wheel of the #4 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8) makes her Blancpain GT Series debut. In the same class there two more Ferraris: the #53 488 GT3 entered by AF Corse for Motoaki Ishikawa, Lorenzo Bontempelli and official GT Ferrari driver Olivier Beretta and the #66 Black Pearl Racing 458 Italia entered for Steve Parrow, Alexander Mattschull and Dominik Schwaiger.
Am Cup. In the Am category two squads are on top of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Am standings, having shared the top-two finishing spots in the two endurance races of the season: Beaubelique, Ricci and Vannelet (#87 AKKA ASP Mercedes) won in Monza, while Stef Van Campenhoudt and Pierre Ehret (#333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari) crossed the line in first position in Silverstone. At Le Castellet, the latter will be joined by fast Russian Rinat Salikhov. Belgian Stéphane Lemeret will race in his first endurance race of the season, joining Alex Moiseev on the #49 Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari. Together with his Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup co-driver Claudio Sdanewitsch, Lemeret has a 23-point lead, so a top-5 finish will give him certainty of keeping the lead at the end of the French round of the Blancpain GT Series. The Am Cup class features some more Ferraris: there’s one from French CMR with Sport Garage squad, one by AF Corse for Peter Mann, Francisco Guedes and Rino Mastronardi and two from Kessel Racing for Stephen Earle, Bernard Delhez and David Perel and Marco Zanuttini, Vadim Gitlin and Liam Talbot. The Le Castellet race will start at 16 on Saturday.