The Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season opener at Monza this year features yet another stunning entry, 49 cars strong, SRO has revealed.
While there are storylines to follow up and down the four classes, all eyes will, as usual, be on the Pro field, with 19 cars set to compete for the overall win in Italy later this month.
Among the entries in PRO are Black Falcon’s Mercedes, the team beginning its Endurance Cup title defence with Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman.
They are sure to face stiff competition, not least from fellow Mercedes outfit AKKA ASP Team, which clinched the overall title in 2018 and is led by local hero Raffaele Marciello. A third Mercedes-AMG entry comes from Strakka Racing, which claimed last year’s Endurance Cup drivers’ title in the Pro-Am category.
Audi will be the best-represented Pro class brand with four new R8 LMS EVOs. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, which won last year’s race at Monza, leads the assault, joined by Attempto Racing and Sainteloc Racing.
Like Audi, local favourite Lamborghini will debut an upgraded car this year. An impressive trio of Huracan GT3 EVOs are entered, two coming from series newcomer FFF Racing and another from 2017 Endurance Cup champion and two-time Rolex 24 Hours GTD winner Grasser Racing.
Porsche’s new 911 GT3 R is another updated car for the Pro class grid this year, ROWE Racing making a head-turning switch from racing with BMW for this year. The German team will race with a pair of 911s, with factory drivers aboard, alongside series newcomer Dinamic Motorsport.
Aston Martin meanwhile, has an all-new car for this year. Three new Vantages will race in the Pro class, two from R-Motorsport which impressed mightily in its debut campaign last year with the outgoing model, and one from Garage 59, which like ROWE has switched brand this year. The former McLaren team, run by Andrew Kirkaldy is hoping for a successful fresh start with Aston Martin this year.
Fellow British marque Bentley has two Continental GT3s on the grid, the current model back for a second season with M-Sport, which will race with the numbers #107 and #108 to mark the brand’s centenary year.
Notable within the Bentley squad is another appearance from one of the team’s additional drivers rostered for the 2019 Spa 24 Hours – Alex Buncombe – Buncombe’s appearance follows that of Lucas Ordonez and Marcus Palttala at the California 8 Hours as the drivers familiarise themselves with the Continental GT3 – For Buncombe in particular though it continues an amazing record of having appeared in 39 of the 40 Blancpain Endurance races held so far – only Stephane Ortelli outscores that mark with 41 – but with Ortelli set to miss Monza, Buncombe moves to within one race of the Frenchman’s total!
“As an English driver, to be given the opportunity to race for such a legendary British brand is a truly great privilege and honour, even more so in such a special year. I’m really looking forward to teaming up with Andy and Maxime, and benefiting from their extensive experience with the team and car.”
Finally, the iconic Ferrari brand will be represented by SMP Racing, the Russian team (which scored pole at Monza in 2018) bringing the same drivers as last year to the grid in its 488 GT3.
Elsewhere, the Silver, Pro-Am and Am classes feature healthy fields packed with quality entries.
The Silver Cup has taken a significant step forward for 2019, with 19 cars, more than in 2019. The Lamborghini brand will dominate the grid thanks to entries from FFF Racing, Grasser Racing, Barwell Motorsport, Ombra Racing, and Daiko Lazarus Racing.
There is also significant talent representing the leading German brands: Audi will rely on Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and Phoenix Racing, while Mercedes-AMG can count on heavyweight squads Black Falcon and AKKA ASP.
Rinaldi Racing will field a Ferrari 488 GT3, while Honda joins the grid full-time thanks to new outfit Jenson Team Rocket RJN, that brings significant attention to the grid thanks to the presence of former F1 World Champion Jenson Button. A stunning Gulf-liveried Porsche 911 GT3 R from GPX Racing completes the list.
The Pro-Am category should also remain hugely competitive this year, with seven teams representing five brands contending for class honours. Among them, reigning overall class champions Sainteloc Racing will bid to add the Endurance crown with its Audi R8 LMS EVO.
The Am Cup features 10 cars. Defending champions Barwell Motorsport headlines the entry list with its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO,
The three-hour race (on April 14th) will begin at the traditional time of 15.00 local time.
Photo courtesy of Blancpain GT