Buhk & Baumann split up for title defences
Max Buhk and Dominik Baumann, who won the Blancpain GT Series title last year will not race together in this year’s Blancpain GT Series with HTP.
Buhk will drive with new teammate Franck Perera in the #84 HTP AMG GT3 for the season, while Baumann will share the #86 with Swede Jimmy Eriksson.
“The gap between all competitors has shrunk during the winter”, says Buhk. “You could see the strengths of the others during the test days and whilst it was already a hard fight for the front positions last year, it will be even tougher this year.”
“There are 34 competitors in the race and there will be a lot of traffic on track, making it extra important to get a perfect lap in qualifying to secure a strong lap time. I am very excited ahead of the first race and look forward to start with my new team-mate Franck Perera.”
GruppeM announces lineup for Blancpain GT Asia
GruppeM Racing has made a switched to Mercedes for the 2017, and has announced the star-studded European driver lineup that will take on the established order in this season’s inaugural Blancpain GT Series Asia campaign.
The former FIA GT and British GT champions were the first to commit to the new series when it was officially launched last December, but have waited until the week before its opening round at Sepang to confirm its full-season driver roster.
Its pair of Mercedes-AMG GT3s feature two of the European-based Blancpain GT Series’ hottest properties. Reigning overall champion and Endurance Cup runner-up Maxi Buhk will share GruppeM’s #999 entry at five of this year’s six events with British driver Hunter Abbott, whose recent experience includes the British Touring Car Championship and various forms of GT racing.
Prior Mercedes-AMG commitments mean Buhk is unable to compete at Sepang next week. GruppeM has therefore drafted in former Ferrari Formula 1 reserve driver, GP2 Series race winner and 2013 FIA European F3 champion Raffaele Marciello, who will be making his GT debut after switching from single-seaters.
GruppeM’s second driver pairing is also a potent one, with another of Mercedes-AMG’s Blancpain GT Series front-runners – Jules Szymkowiak – partnering former British GT and Porsche Carrera Cup champion Tim Sugden aboard the #888 machine.
Both of this season’s GruppeM entries will be supported by Pagani China, a company whose exotic supercars use thoroughbred Mercedes-AMG engines.
Craft-Bamboo Racing brings O’Young and Cong
Craft-Bamboo Racing has revealed that former GT Asia champions Darryl O’Young and Peter Li Zhi Cong will compete with the team in its #99 VLT Porsche 911 GT3 R for the inaugural Blancpain GT Asia season.
This marks the first time that the two drivers will share a car together; producing what should be one of the most exciting pairings on the 2017 grid. Li makes his return to GT cars after a big accident in European Formula 3 saw him ruled out for the rest of the 2016 season. Working hard through the winter, Li has made a full recovery and the #99 driver is hungry to get back on track behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 R. With the young GT driver’s speed and enthusiasm, paired with O’Young’s years of top-level motorsport experience, the two will make for a potent combination of youth and experience.
“I believe that the pairing of O’Young and Li will be strong and give us a good shot at the Drivers’ Championship title,” said team CEO Richard Coleman. “Both drivers come from a strong GT background in Porsches and are familiar with the circuits on the calendar, which should help to give the team an edge in performance.”
Aust Motorsport enters pair of R8s
Aust Motorsport has announced that it will race in this year’s ADAC GT Masters with a pair of Audi R8 LMS’ Dennis Marschall and Patric Niederhauser already confirmed in one car.
“We are delighted to have secured the services of another fast duo for our second cockpit,” says team principal Frank Aust. “With this exciting mix of three experienced and successful veterans and one promising young talent, we can look to the future with optimism.”
“I’m really looking forward to the new challenge in the ADAC GT Masters,” added Niederhauser. “As early as the first test drives, we could see that the chemistry was just right. The whole team structure here, with highly motivated and capable people, fills me with confidence that good results are possible. What’s more, I have a very powerful car in the Audi R8 LMS.”
Drivex switches to Merc
Drivex School, the Madrid-based team that has been a faithful contender in both the International GT Open and the Euroformula Open for many years, has purchased a pair of Mercedes SLS.
The Spanish squad, which in the past has ran Porsches and Audis in the GT Open, has acquired a brand new Mercedes SLS, and has started testing today at Valencia. Drivex is entering the car full-season for a duo of top Brazilian drivers: Marcelo Hahn – who has a solid background in GT racing and was a South American GT3 champion in 2013 – and Allam Khodair, who after shining with single-seaters up to A1GP, has been a star of in Stock Car Brasil, the country’s most popular series, for a decade, and acquired international experience competing in the 2013 FIA-GT with a BMW.
“We were anxious to be on track with our new Mercedes! Allam and Marcelo already proved with our old car how fast they are,” team principal Miguel Ángel De Castro said. “And that came as no surprise given their curriculum. We really look forward to the new season and believe that this year’s package will help us climbing the ladder significantly.”
FF Corse switches to GT Open
Johnny Mowlem and Ivor Dunbar have switched from the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup to the International GT Open for this season after a successful test at Barcelona earlier this year in an FF Corse-run Ferrari 488 GT3.
FF Corse, which made a stunning appearance in the International GT Open at Silverstone last year, will be part of the entire 2017 season with a Ferrari 488 prepared in its workshops at Silverstone.
The car has been placed with Ferrari specialist team FF Corse as part of the Red River Sport stable, and will be raced by Ivor Dunbar, a British gentleman-driver with experience in the UK and, at international level, in the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup. His mentor and pro-driver teammate will be Johnny Mowlem, who needs no introduction.
Ratón Racing confirms Lambo programme with Liberati-Ling
Team Ratón Racing will compete in the full 2017 GT Open season with a Lamborghini Huracán GT3 entrusted to 2016 GT Asia Champion Edoardo Liberati and Kang Ling, who already made a strong impression during the winter tests in Barcelona.
Franco Sighinolfi will take care of the technical direction of the Roman team.
“We are clearly very happy of both the drivers chosen, as Edo and Kang have been able to adapt very quickly to the car, and of the programme chosen: the GT Open is a top series and the level is going to be very competitive. We are ready!” Said team manager Marco Ubaldi.