What is the
Blancpain GT Series?

What is the Blancpain GT series? 01

Close racing with equally-matched prestige cars
The Blancpain GT Series is the premier European motorsport competition for GT (which stands for ‘grand touring’) racing. It features large and varied grids filled with race versions of supercar models from many of the world’s most prestigious manufacturers, all fitted with Pirelli tyres. The championship was born in 2011 with the first GT Series Endurance Cup, then, in 2014 the Sprint Cup was added and the championship took the actual form.

Competing cars must comply with a set of regulations called GT3, which are intended to encourage cost-effective involvement from manufacturers. Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Mercedes are among those represented, all with cars derived from their own road-going models. In total, 15 brands are involved with 28 different car models having been launched up to now.

The Blancpain GT Sports Club is an international challenge between the best street supercars in the world, from the A of Audi R8, to the P of Porche 911 GT3, passing obviously from Ferrari 488, the Lamborghini Gallardo and much more.

The racing teams represented in 2018 Blancpain GT are Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and San Marino, with their respective drivers coming from all over the world.

The series features a Balance of Performance system that equalises the different cars to ensure all have the chance to be competitive against one another. This system, which has been key to the worldwide success of GT racing, was devised by the SRO Motorsports Group that organizes and promotes the championship with the support of the title sponsor, Swiss watch manufacturer Blancpain. SRO was founded by Frenchman Stéphane Ratel, whose interview you will read elsewhere on these pages.

What is the Blancpain GT series? 02

What does the season look like?
A Blancpain GT Series season runs over 10 events, consisting of five Endurance Cup races and five Sprint Cup events. Championship titles for drivers and teams are awarded in both of these five-round Cups, and also for points accumulated across both formats. Teams are encouraged to enter cars into both endurance and sprint events, and many of the same drivers feature in both styles of racing.

The Endurance Cup focuses on longer races, and includes the season’s centrepiece, the Total 24 Hours of Spa held at the famous Belgian grand prix circuit.
Last year’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance of Spa-Francorchamps has been dominated by the Italian Piergiuseppe Perazzini and the AF Corse team. The other endurance races last between three and six hours, taking in renowned venues like Monza and Silverstone. Cars are usually shared between three drivers, so in the three-hour races they spend around an hour each in the car.

The Sprint Cup events each feature two one-hour races. The first race acts a qualifying race, which sets the grid for the main race. There are two drivers to each car in the Sprint Cup, with each entry making a mandatory mid-race pit-stop to change drivers. For the over 60 category, this GT championship awards the Silver Cup, a cup dedicated to all the drivers who took part of both Blancpain GT Series Sprint and Endurance.

What is the Blancpain GT series? 03

Want to take part? Yes, you can
In both Cups, the competing cars are allocated to one of three classes, depending on the level of the drivers: Pro, Pro-Am or Amateur. Drivers are classified according to their experience and speed, and whether racing is their profession or just a hobby. The Blancpain GT Series features a wide spectrum of drivers, from fully professional drivers paid to race by manufacturers, to young drivers looking to make a name for themselves and climb the career ladder, to enthusiastic gentleman drivers.

Points make prizes
Points are awarded to the leading finishers in each class. In the three-hour endurance races and the main sprint races, the winner gets 25 points, with the rest of the top 10 scoring points according to the same scale used in Formula 1. In sprint qualifying races, eight points go to the winner, down to one point for sixth. At the 24 Hours of Spa, points are awarded at six and 12 hours with the leaders getting 12 points, before regular points are then awarded at the race finish.

At the end of the season, the total points scored across the year determine the champions in the Endurance and Sprint Cups and in the overall Blancpain GT Series, with drivers and teams rewarded.

It’s close, exciting and action-packed racing, featuring real cars that look very similar to those found in the most desirable supercar showrooms all over the world. In the next feature, we’ll take a look at the drivers and cars that star in the Blancpain GT Series: exclusively supplied by Pirelli. They come from every walk of life, and all have a fascinating story to tell.

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