Mario Cordoni leads the overall drivers' standings
Stephen Earle top of the Iron Cup class heading to Le Castellet
Six manufacturers represented
Circuit Paul Ricard welcomes round two of the 2018 Blancpain GT Sports Club, as an extended entry list of 21 cars across three classes prepare to do battle in the south of France (1-2 June).
After a thrilling opener at Monza, Italy, the GT Sports Club grid will makes its fourth trip to the French Grand Prix venue, and will once again support the Paul Ricard 1000 km.
The bumper entry list will see another manufacturer represented, as Audi joins BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes and Porsche to take on the historic 5.842km circuit.
AF Corse driver Mario Cordoni (#70 Ferrari 488 GT3) took a stunning double victory in Italy to cement his place at the top of the drivers’ standings ahead of this weekend, with Boutsen Ginion’s Karim Ojjeh (#2 BMW M6 GT3) trailing by nine points after a sweep of second place finishes last time out.
In the Iron Cup, a masterful drive by Kessel Racing’s Stephen Earle (#111 Ferrari 488 GT3) sees him lead the over-60s class standings with 31 points, eight ahead of rival Klaus Dieter Frers (#3), who will return behind the wheel of a Ferrari 488 GT3 for Artega Rennsport.
Two completely new teams will head to France, with CC Car Collection Motorsport’s Dirg Parhofer (#18 Audi R8 LMS GT3) making his championship debut and BMS Scuderia Italia SRL fielding the #7 Ferrari 458 GT3 for Luigi Lucchini, who scored points on his only Blancpain GT Sports Club appearance here in 2017.
Italian outfit AF Corse represent the most drivers this weekend, with Patrick Van Glabeke (#488 Ferrari 488 GT3), Frederic Fangio (#53 Ferrari 458 GT3) and Iron Cup’s Louis Philippe Soenen (#50 488 GT3), joining Mario Cordoni, alongside Alex Demirdjian (#22 488 GT3), who returns to the series for the first time since Paul Ricard last year.
Joining Stephen Earle at Kessel Racing is France’s Deborah Mayer (#8 488 GT3), who took part in last year’s Misano race, as well as newcomer Murod Sultanov (#23 488 GT3) and the returning Claudio Schiavoni (#20 488 GT3).
Boutsen Ginion return with the same trio of drivers that scored strong finishes in the opener, with French racers Claude-Yves Gosselin (#4 Lamborghini Gallardo Extenso R-EX) and Pierre Feligioni (#6 Gallardo Extenso R-EX) hoping to capitalise on their best weekend’s to date in front of their home crowd.
It was also an impressive performance last time out for HP Racing International’s Coach McKansy (#17 Lamborghini Huracan GT3), who heads to Le Castellet third in the championship after scoring his maiden podium in the Monza Main Race.
Mike Hansch (#99 Lamborghini Huracan GT3) will hope for more luck this weekend, after the Attempto Racing driver missed out on points in his first race of the season despite showing promising pace.
After scoring an impressive fifth place in the season-opening Qualifying Race, Edward Lewis Brauner (#66 Porsche 991 GT3 R) will be looking for another positive weekend at Paul Ricard, as he once again teams up with Jürgen Häring (#991 Porsche 991 GT3 R) at Herberth Motorsport.
Rinaldi Racing’s Christian Hook (#33 Ferrari 488 GT3) lies fifth in the championship and will be another one to watch this weekend. The German showed great pace at Monza to storm from the back of the grid to fifth place, recording the fastest lap in the process.
Lastly, GDL Racing’s Roberto Rayneri returns in the #60 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 off the back of his strongest Blancpain GT Sports Club weekend yet, which sees him lie in fourth place in the Iron Cup class.
Friday’s action at Paul Ricard will consist of two 30-minute practice sessions, followed by a 20-minute qualifying run. Saturday will welcome the 25-minute Qualifying Race in the morning, followed by the 40-minute Main Race in the afternoon.
Blancpain GT Sports Club Schedule: Paul Ricard*
Friday 1st June
12:30 – 13:00: Free Practice 1
15:00 – 15:30: Free Practice 2
17:20 – 17:40: Qualifying
Saturday 2nd June
11:05 – 11:30: Qualifying Race
15:10 – 15:50: Main Race
*All times are local