The Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup rolls into Silverstone this weekend for its only British appearance of 2016, writes Colin and James Beckett.
Over 50 GT3-specification cars will line-up on Sunday afternoon for a three-hour race around the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, a race that will form the second round of the 2016 Blancpain GT Endurance Cup.
Organised by the Stephane Ratel Organisation (SRO), the Blancpain GT Series is the world’s most prestigious GT championship and it runs alongside the Blancpain GT Sprint Cup.
Victory at Brands Hatch went the way of Enzo Ide and Christopher Mies and their Team WRT Audi R8 LMS, and although the duo are not on-track at Silverstone this weekend, the Team WRT squad they represent are and they will field four Audi R8 LMS cars.
Winners of the opening Blancpain GT Endurance Cup at Monza were the McLaren Garage 59 drivers Come Ledogar, Rob Bell and Shane Van Gisbergen and the McLaren has a good history of winning at Silverstone.
Triumphant in this race last year, and in the 2015 British GT encounter around the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, hopes are high in the McLaren camp for a repeat performance.
Alongside the championship leading Monza winning entry, Garage 59 field a second McLaren 650S GT3 for Andrew Watson, Struan Moore and former GP3 racer, Alex Fontana.
A fleet of Lamborgini Huracan cars are on the entry list, notably the number 101 Attempo Racing car driven by factory racer Fabio Babini, Patric Niederhauser and Daniel Zampieri.
It is twelve months ago since Babini and the Grasser Racing squad gaVe the Italian car its British debut, and nine of the V10-powered cars are included on the entry list.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 assault is headed by the number 84 HTP Motorsport entry of Dominik Baumann, Jazeman Jafaar and Maximilian Buhk.
The trio were second in Monza, and the Mercedes-AMG is due a win, after a similar car finished in second place in the Sprint Cup feature race last weekend. BMW, Ferrarii, Porsche, Jaguar, Nissan and Aston Martin cars will also be on-track, although the Silverstone crowds will be keen to cheer on the M-Sport Bentley team.
The mighty Bentley GT3 Continental cars will represent the marque in ‘works’ colours for the M-Sport team, and the number 8 Bentley finished third at Monza in the Endurance Cup and third at Brands Hatch in the Sprint Cup.
Driving the number 8 Continental will be Andy Soucek, Wolfgang Reip and Maxime Soulet. The team’s second car, the number 67, will be driven by Guy Smith - winner of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race for Bentley back in 2003 - Steven Kane and Vincent Abril. A third Bentley, entered by Team Parker Racing and driven by Tom Onslow-Cole, Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod.
Free practice for the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup takes place throughout Saturday with Official Qualifying on Sunday morning. The 3-Hours of Silverstone will start at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.