Christian Klien is relishing his first full-season Blancpain GT Series assault as he prepares for the opening round of the Sprint Cup campaign at Zolder.
The experienced Austrian made his first Blancpain GT Series appearance in 2016, contesting the Total 24 Hours of Spa and the Nürburgring event for Emil Frey Racing. In 2017 he expanded his role to encompass the complete Endurance Cup schedule for the Swiss outfit and has now committed to the full 10-round Blancpain GT Series.
The Emily Frey squad will begin a new chapter this year as they link up with Lexus to field a pair of the Japanese brand’s RCF GT3s. Klien will partner Albert Costa in the Sprint events, with Marco Seefried joining the pair at Endurance Cup rounds.
“This will be the first time for me doing the full Blancpain GT Series and I’m particularly excited about the Sprint races,” explained Klien. “It’s proper racing – one hour, flat out – so I’m really looking forward to that.
“In the Endurance races I think we have a good chance to do well as we know that this car is reliable. We know we have a good product from Lexus, and Emil Frey Racing has put all the pieces together to be successful this year.”
Speaking during the official Blancpain GT Series test at Circuit Paul Ricard, Klien said he was pleased with how his new machine was performing. The Lexus made a one-off appearance at the final Sprint Cup round of 2017 and has since undertaken an extensive test programme.
“We had already done some test days prior to Paul Ricard and I have to say that it’s a nice car. You get in and immediately feel comfortable, which is always a good sign.
“This year we’ll need to learn how the car works on Pirelli tyres as we only did one race last year [with the Lexus], but we are happy with where we are right now.”
Despite the positive early signs, Klien remains cautious about the team’s chances of fighting for the overall Blancpain GT Series title this year.
“This is an extremely close championship with highly professional drivers and teams,” said Klien. “This is only the second year of racing for Lexus and the first in the Blancpain GT Series, so I wouldn’t say we can go for the championship just yet. But we can definitely aim for top fives and podiums. That would be awesome for us.”
The 2018 Blancpain GT Series kicks off with a double-header Sprnt Cup event at Zolder (6-8 April).