SRO has finalised the full-season entry lists for the 2019 Endurance Cup, World Challenge Europe (formerly the Sprint Cup) and combined GT Series seasons, as the teams and drivers take part in the pre-season test at Paul Ricard.
A 49-strong grid will contest the five-round Endurance Cup, while the entry for Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe stands at 24 full-season cars. The list of brands amounts to 10 this year, with Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche all represented.
Each will be present on the Endurance Cup grid this term, while six will also contest the five-round Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe.
“I am pleased to see another extremely healthy entry list for the Blancpain GT Series and to welcome a number of new and returning teams to the paddock this season,” said Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group Founder and CEO.
“We are also particularly thankful to the teams that have been most faithful to the series and continue to race with us year after year.”
“The Endurance Cup grid remains at the same extremely high level that we have become accustomed to, with 10 brands represented in 2019, extending the long run of success that the category has enjoyed since its creation. Among this year’s entrants, we will see the first full season in Endurance for Honda with its NSX GT3, as well as a number of new and updated cars from our existing brands.”
“There is also a healthy grid for the launch of Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. The numbers are up from last year’s Sprint Cup field and competitors are clearly excited by the new GT World Challenge concept.”
“Overall, we can see an increased balance between professional and non-professional drivers this season. This was a founding principle of our series and remains a matter of great importance. We have put significant work into this area and I am glad to see that it is paying off.”
“With the grids set for the season ahead, I now look forward to our opening race weekend at Monza.”
Here is a look at the teams that will represent them in 2019:
The new-for-2019 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 will make its Blancpain GT Series debut this season, and three teams will run at least one of them.
Swiss team R-Motorsport, which has taken Aston Martin to DTM this year, has expanded its effort following a successful Endurance Cup programme in 2018 with the older car, adding a two-car assault on Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe.
Garage 59 meanwhile, has switched from racing with McLaren to Aston Martin for this season and will take part in the Endurance Cup rounds with a car apiece in the Pro and Am Cup classes. The marque will also be represented in the Pro-Am category, with Oman Racing with TF Sport contending for class honours in the Endurance Cup.
Audi is the brand with the most cars in the Pro class this year in the Endurance Cup and World Challenge Europe.
Six of the Ingolstadt marque’s new R8 LMS EVO machines are set to contest the long-distance championship, while 10 will be present at GT World Challenge Europe events. In total, eight Audi entries will also contest the full Blancpain GT Series in 2019.
The hugely accomplished Belgian Audi Club Team WRT squad will lead Audi’s charge with four cars, in GT World Challenge Europe and three in the Endurance Cup. Attempto Racing and Sainteloc Racing will both run a brace of full-season cars too, while the returning Phoenix Racing squad will field two GT World Challenge Europe machines and a single example for the Endurance Cup.
This year is set to be a big one for Bentley, M-Sport running the current Continental GT3 model for a second year in the Endurance Cup, with an additional pair of cars for the Spa 24 Hours.
Alongside M-Sport, former British GT Champion (with Bentley in 2017) Team Parker Racing will also campaign a new-spec Continental GT3 in the Pro-Am class of the Endurance Cup.
Unfortunately, there are no Bentleys entered in World Challenge Europe this season.
With ROWE Racing switching to Porsche in 2019, BMW’s representation this year is thin in Blancpain, with just one car set to take on the Endurance Cup, Boutsen Ginion entering an M6 GT3 into the Am class. Like Bentley, there’s also no BMWs in World Challenge Europe.
Ferrari meanwhile, has plenty of 488 GT3s racing in Europe this year with SRO.
In the Pro class, SMP Racing will resume its effort in the Endurance Cup, continuing a programme that ended last season with a third-place finish at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Ferrari machinery has again proven particularly popular across the classes. In Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, a trio of 488 GT3s will compete with Rinaldi Racing (Silver Cup), Spirit of Race (Pro-Am) and HB Racing (Am Cup). All of these will add Endurance campaigns, while there will be further Ferrari representation at long-distance events thanks to a brace of Am Cup entries from the Rinaldi crew and a Pro-Am effort by series newcomer Tempesta Racing.
The Honda NSX GT3 will contest its first full assault on the Endurance Cup this term, with newly-formed team Jenson Team Rocket RJN fielding the new Evo-spec NSX GT3.
Formed through a partnership between 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button and Blancpain GT Series stalwart Team RJN (after it moved on from competing with Nissan this year), the squad will race in the Silver Cup class.
With entries in the Pro, Silver Cup, Pro-Am and Am categories, Lamborghini will be represented in all four Blancpain GT Series classes this season.
Rolex 24 GTD winning team Grasser Racing will field two Endurance Cup cars, one of which will also contest Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe.
Series newcomer Orange1 FFF Racing will also race with three Huracans, moving to compete Endurance after a title-winning Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia campaign in 2018. The Chinese team will field two Pro cars and one Silver effort in the Endurance Cup, and one apiece in Pro, Pro-Am and Silver at GT World Challenge Europe events.
There will be further Lamborghini representation in the Endurance Cup this term as Barwell Motorsport, Ombra Racing and Daiko Lazarus Racing will all race in the ultra-competitive Silver Cup category. Daiko Lazarus will also field a Pro-Am car, while Barwell will defend its Am Cup title alongside fellow Lamborghini squads Boutsen Ginion and Target Racing.
The Lexus RC F GT3 will contest its second full Blancpain GT Series campaign in 2019.
After Emil Frey campaigned the RC F GT3 last year, the Japanese brand will be represented by a new addition to the grid, (LMP2 regular) Panis-Barthez Competition, which has linked up with the Tech 1 Racing squad to field a single-car effort in the Endurance Cup. The car will contest the Am category at all long-distance events this term.
Mercedes-AMG enjoyed a stellar 2018 in which the German brand’s teams secured multiple titles, including overall honours for AKKA ASP.
The French outfit will launch another ambitious assault this term by fielding a trio of full-season cars, with one each in the Pro, Pro-Am and Silver Cup classes. A further Silver Cup car will also contest Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe.
The veteran Black Falcon squad will also launch a full-season attack, defending the Endurance Cup title it clinched last year and adding GT World Challenge Europe events. It will also continue to field a Silver Cup machine at Endurance rounds.
Mercedes-AMG will be represented by a pair of British squads at Endurance Cup events too. Strakka Racing will once again hunt top honours in the Pro category (in addition to its partial season IGTC campaign), while Ram Racing will resume its successful Pro-Am effort.
Porsche’s presence in the Endurance Cup’s Pro class this year has increased. The headline for the marque being a trio of Pro class 911 GT3 R taking on the full season.
Two of these will come from the accomplished ROWE Racing squad, which has switched to Porsche machinery from BMW for 2019. The German outfit boasts an impressive driver line-up that includes significant talent from the Stuttgart marque’s factory roster.
Two series newcomers will bolster Porsche’s Endurance Cup assault: Italian outfit Dinamic Motorsport will contest the Pro category, while GPX Racing will launch an assault on the Silver Cup class.
Images courtesy of Blancpain GT