Customer Racing: Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe: Mission double title defence Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe

24.
April 2019
Affalterbach

For Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, the two races at Brands Hatch in the UK on Sunday 5 May, mark the start of part three of the global Blancpain GT World Challenge sprint race championship after America and Asia. In the process, it is not just about points for the manufacturers’ standings, but also the start of mission title defence in the former Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. In the first round at Brands Hatch, Raffaele Marciello (ITA) will be racing for Mercedes-AMG as the reigning champion and as a driver eligible to score points. Other drivers who will be racing for points in the continental manufacturers’ championship are Luca Stolz (GER) for BLACK FALCON as well as Jean-Luc Beaubelique (FRA)/Mauro Ricci (ITA) and Thomas Neubauer (FRA) for the French AKKA ASP Team. 

  • Jean-Luc Beaubelique/Mauro Ricci, Raffaele Marciello, Thomas Neubauer, Luca Stolz nominated as drivers eligible to score points for Mercedes-AMG
  • Raffaele Marciello reigning drivers’ champion in sprint competition
  • Nico Bastian defending Silver Cup champion

Affalterbach – In 2018, the European race series still had a different name, but Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing has fond memories of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, running as the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe this season. The previous year saw Raffaele Marciello win the drivers’ title in this competition, together with Michael Meadows (GBR). This season, Marciello will be racing for the AKKA ASP Team again. With Vincent Abril (MON), he has a new teammate in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with starting number 88, one who already managed to win the Sprint Cup title in 2015. With Nico Bastian (GER), the AKKA ASP Team has another defending champion in its line-up, the German having claimed the Silver Cup crown together with Jack Manchester (GBR) last year. In the 2019 season, Bastian is sharing the #89 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with 19-year-old Thomas Neubauer (FRA).

French outfit AKKA ASP is running a third Mercedes-AMG GT3 that is racing in the Pro-Am class. Its drivers are Jim Pla (FRA) and Jean-Luc Beaubelique, who will be alternating with Mauro Ricci during the season. Mercedes-AMG Motorsport has nominated Beaubelique/Ricci, Marciello and Neubauer as the AKKA ASP drivers eligible to score points. With their results, these drivers also rack up valuable points for the Blancpain GT World Challenge standings.

Another Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the driver pairing of Maro Engel (GER) and Luca Stolz will be entered in the sprint competition by BLACK FALCON. Last year, the two drivers won the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup title together with Yelmer Buurman (NED), with whom they are racing in the endurance series again in 2019. With their extended involvement in all the Blancpain GT Series rounds in 2019, Engel and Stolz also aim at winning the series’ overall title. On top of that, Stolz is one of the drivers nominated by Mercedes-AMG who are also eligible to score points in the Blancpain GT World Challenge. As a result, the nominated driver pairings for Mercedes-AMG in America and Asia have now been completed by their European counterparts.

The first race of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe at Brands Hatch gets underway on Sunday 5 May at 13.10 hrs CET (12.10 hrs local time), the second race at 17.35 hrs CET (16.35 hrs local time). The event at Brands Hatch is the first of five rounds with two one-hour sprint races each. Moreover, the results of the European sprint series also count towards the overall Blancpain GT Series standings, in which Mercedes-AMG aims at defending further titles.

Raffaele Marciello, AKKA ASP Team #88: “In the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season opener at Monza, we already had a really good speed, but then unfortunately retired. Now, I am looking forward to Brands Hatch, a really nice circuit. But literally everything has to fit together for us to score a good result. Pit stops will be crucial, too, but we are well prepared for that.”

Vincent Abril, AKKA ASP Team #88: “Starting off the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe season at Brands Hatch, one of my best-loved ‘old school’ race tracks, is super. At Monza, we had already shown a strong performance until our retirement, being among the frontrunners throughout. Therefore, I am really looking forward to the sprint format, in which I will be racing with Raffaele again. Like always in the Blancpain Series, the field is very strong and in the end, every detail matters to achieve our goal.”

Maro Engel, BLACK FALCON #4: “Brands Hatch is an undisputed mega circuit, one that I am looking forward to very much. Many fast corners with the drop at Paddock Hill Bend as the undisputed highlight. Generally, I am delighted to be racing the full Blancpain GT Series with Luca Stolz this season. The field of drivers is very strong. In GT racing, the sprint races are at least as hard-fought as the endurance competitions. Third place at Monza was a good start on which we can build. Admittedly, we can be considered as newcomers, but we want to show that we can be championship contenders both in the World Challenge Europe and in the overall standings.”

Luca Stolz, BLACK FALCON #4: “I am really happy to be allowed to participate in all ten Blancpain GT Series rounds together with Maro Engel. The five sprint races are hard-fought, one hour flat-out on Saturday and Sunday. Here, neither the drivers nor the teams can afford to make any mistakes. The pit stop halfway through the race, in which driver and tyre changes have to be carried out as quickly as possible, is often decisive for the outcome of the race. But with BLACK FALCON and Maro, I have a perfect team at my side to be successful in the Brands Hatch season opener.”  

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “After the successful season openers in America and Asia, we are even more motivated for the start of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. In the global manufacturers’ sprint championship, we have already got ourselves into a good position and we hope to be able to start the European competition in an equally successful way with a good result at Brands Hatch. In terms of drivers, we have a first-class line-up for the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. We have nominated a quartet of drivers that gives us chances of scoring World Challenge points in every category. And AKKA ASP and BLACK FALCON have also assembled excellent duos for the Blancpain GT Series sprint category. With two reigning champions and further top drivers, we will be among the candidates for the title again this year.”

Drivers eligible to score points in the Blancpain GT World Challenge:

Drivers

 

Category

Team

Europe

Jean-Luc Beaubelique (FRA) /

Mauro Ricci (ITA)*

Bronze

AKKA ASP Team

Raffaele Marciello (ITA)

Platinum

AKKA ASP Team

Thomas Neubauer (FRA)

Silver

AKKA ASP Team

Luca Stolz (GER)

Gold

BLACK FALCON

America

David Askew (USA)

Bronze

DXDT Racing

George Kurtz (USA)

Bronze

DXDT Racing

Colin Braun (USA)

Gold

DXDT Racing

Ryan Dalziel (GBR)

Gold

DXDT Racing

Asia

MG Choi (KOR)

Silver

Indigo Racing

Jeffrey Lee (TWN)

Bronze

Craft Bamboo Racing

Christina Nielsen (DEN)

Silver

Craft Bamboo Racing

Xu Wei (CHN)

Bronze

Anstone Racing

* Beaubelique and Ricci will be alternating for the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe rounds

 

Mercedes-AMG GT3 Teams and Drivers
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, Brands Hatch*:

Nr.

Class

Team

Drivers

4

(Pro)

BLACK FALCON

Maro Engel (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)

87

(Pro-Am)

AKKA ASP Team

Jean-Luc Beaubelique (FRA), Jim Pla (FRA)

88

(Pro)

AKKA ASP Team

Vincent Abril (MON), Raffaele Marciello (ITA)

89

(Silver Cup)

AKKA ASP Team

Nico Bastian (GER), Thomas Neubauer (FRA)

* subject to last-minute changes

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  • 19C0352_002
    Sprint Cup champions Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows
  • 19C0352_001
    #88 AKKA ASP Team; Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • 19C0352_003
    Silver Cup champions Jack Manchester and Nico Bastian
  • 19C0352_005
    #90 AKKA ASP Team; Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • 19C0352_004
    #87 AKKA ASP Team; Mercedes-AMG GT3
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