Sprint Cup to kick off next weekend
The Blancpain GT Series will start in Misano with 34 cars on the grid of the Sprint Cup and two brands providing the largest number of drivers. Mercedes-AMG 2016 champions are split up, with Maxi Buhk driving the #84 car of Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport and Dominik Baumann the #86 car. The names of their team-mates will be announced shortly. French squad Team AKKA-ASP is set to bring four cars to the championship, with single-seater aces Daniel Juncadella and newcomer Raffaele Marciello in their line-up. Two of the AKKA-ASP cars will be entered in the PRO-AM Cup, just like the Kornely Motorsport Mercedes-AMG.
The Audi brand is represented by Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and Team WRT entering five cars together. Reigning Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champion Enzo Ide will again team up with Christopher Mies. Among their team-mates plenty of top-notch drivers, with former F1 drivers Will Stevens and Markus Winkelhockon the #2 car. Triple Le Mans 24-winner Marcel Fässler makes a comeback to GT racing, sharing the #5 Audi with Dries Vanthoor. Frank Stippler is spear-heading the two-car entry of ISR, with Christopher Haase and Romain Monti in the sole Saintéloc Racing Audi.
With six cars on the grid the Lamborghini Huracán GT3s are entered by GRT Grasser Racing Team and Attempto Racing each bringing two cars. Adrian Zaugg and Max Van Splunteren will compete in the Silver Cup. Orange 1 Team Lazarus will make its debut with International GT Open reigning champion Fabrizio Crestani and Gustavo Yacaman.
More Italian cheers will certainly be heard for the four Ferrari 488 GT3s. Three of them are entered in the PRO-AM Cup, in which Michael Broniszewski is defending the title. The Polish driver teams up again with Giacomo Piccini in the Kessel Racing machine, but the Swiss squad runs a second car as well for Piti Bhirombakhdi and Carlo Van Dam. Alexander Matschull and Daniel Keilwitz defend Rinaldi Racing’s colours in PRO-AM, with Lorenzo Casè and Phil Quaife at the wheel of the sole Ferrari in the Silver Cup for Spirit of Race.
More Silver Cup entrants are the McLarens, with Nick Leventis and Lewis Williamson at the wheel of the Strakka Motorsport car. Three more 650S are entered by Strakka Racing with Jonny Kane, Alvaro Parente and the reigning Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup champion Rob Bell.
Bentley Team M-Sport line up two Continental GT3s for last year’s Misano Qualifying Race winners Andy Soucek-Maxime Soulet and Steven Kane-Vincent Abril, while ROWE Racing has yet to announce its drivers.
Action in Misano starts on Friday afternoon with the first free practice, followed by the second free practice session on Friday evening. Saturday sees Qualifying in the early afternoon, with the start of the Qualifying Race just before 9 pm. The Main Race will get underway at 12.30 pm on Sunday afternoon.