The start of the 2019 Series is now only a matter of weeks away with the official test days at Circuit Paul Ricard in France on 13 and 14 March, ahead of what will be a 10-round championship split equally between the Endurance Cup and Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe from March to the end of September.
The new campaign promises to deliver action-packed GT3 racing right from the season opener at Monza (13-14 April) through to the finale at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (28-29 September), while the marquee event, the Total 24 Hours of Spa, will once again take centre stage on 25-28 July.
2019 will be a year of stability in many respects with few major alterations being made to the Blancpain GT Series. The most significant news comes with the creation of the Blancpain GT World Challenge. As part of this new endeavour the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup has become Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, joining similar regional categories in Asia and America. Manufacturers entered in the World Challenge will score points through their nominated local drivers, allowing them to compete in a worldwide customer racing championship. This represents a significant sporting development, but it will not lead to any major changes for what was previously known as the Sprint Cup.
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The Championship will retain the same format as in 2019 with a pair of one-hour races that both pay equal points staged across the weekend. It will continue to award teams’ and drivers’ titles in Pro, Pro-Am, Silver Cup and Am Cup, and will also remain as part of the overall Blancpain GT Series.
The adoption of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe name will not impact upon the style or standard of racing at sprint-format events. If anything it will only add to the intrigue with an extra championship battle for fans to follow with the leading international GT manufacturers looking to prove the superiority of their customer racing programmes.
With the newly-named series retaining many key ingredients from the Sprint Cup, some smaller changes have been made to the Blancpain GT Series ahead of the new campaign. The first will see the full-season entry for World Challenge Europe to be capped at 26 cars this year. An upper limit of 28 cars will also be imposed, allowing for additional entries to join on a race-by-race basis.
There are also new developments aimed at further improving safety. Notably, a minimum pit stop time will be introduced for Pro-Am and Am Cup competitors in Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. Also no time restrictions will be placed on Pro or Silver Cup entries, as has been the case in previous seasons.
In addition, mechanics at World Challenge Europe events will be allowed to carry a maximum of one tyre at any time in the working zone. The rules regarding pit stops at Endurance Cup rounds remain unchanged from 2018. There is a slight adjustment for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, however, with the technical pit stop no longer restricted to a pre-determined mid-race window. All technical pit stops must have begun before the end of the 22nd hour.
A further safety initiative will see a new in-car marshalling system adopted in 2019. This will help to keep competitors fully informed while on-track, providing information on red flags, full-course yellow periods and other important updates.
On the sporting side, the Silver Cup will grow further this season. Open only to Silver-graded drivers, the category has been a popular part of the Sprint Cup since 2014 and expanded to the Endurance Cup for the 2018 campaign. This also led to a new overall Silver Cup drivers’ title being created last year.
In 2019 it will grow further as for the first time teams’ titles will be awarded for the category. This will allow the most successful Silver Cup squads in the Endurance Cup, the Blancpain GT World Challenge and the overall classification to be recognised for their efforts.
The last change sees the rules regarding private testing being altered for 2019. From eight days before the start of the season, Blancpain GT Series teams will not be able to carry out a private test at any circuit that will host a round of the 2019 championship. This will be balanced by the introduction of additional official test days, which will take place at four to five of the events staged this season. The final decision on venues will be made and announced in full shortly, however it has been confirmed that the official test day preceding the Total 24 Hours of Spa will expand with two days of running on 2 and 3 July at the Belgian circuit.
2019 Calendar
13 – 14 March 2019
Circuit Paul Ricard, France
Blancpain GT Series Test Day
13 – 14 April 2019
Monza, Italy
Round 1
Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
4 – 5 May 2019
Brands Hatch, Great Britain
Round 2
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe
11 – 12 May 2019
Silverstone, Great Britain
Round 3
Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
31 May – 1 June 2019
Circuit Paul Ricard, France
Round 4
Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
28 – 30 June 2019
Misano, Italy
Round 5
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe
2 – 3 July 2019
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Test Day
Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
12 – 14 July 2019
Zandvoort, Netherlands
Round 6
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe
25 – 28 July 2019
Total 24 Hours of Spa, Belgium
Round 7
Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
30 August – 1 September 2019
Nürburgring, Germany
Round 8
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe
6 – 8 September 2019
Hungaroring, Hungary
Round 9
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe
28 – 29 September 2019
Barcelona, Spain
Round 10
Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
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