Attended by 380 persons from all the series and championships organised and promoted by the SRO Motorsports Group, the annual Awards Ceremony was once again an excellent opportunity to put this year’s performances in a well-deserved spotlight.
The champions of the Blancpain GT Series were of course in attendance to collect their trophies. With the overall Blancpain GT Series drivers’ title going to series rookie Robin Frijns, the overall endurance drivers’ title went to Nissan trio Alex Buncombe, Katsumasa Chiyo and Wolfgang Reip, the overall sprint drivers’ title to Bentley Boys Maxi Buhk and Vincent Abril. The outcome of both championships was only decided in the final corner of the final lap of the final race, and all champions were suitably honoured with a big round of applause.
As has been the case during the previous Awards Ceremonies, representatives of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT made frequent visits to the stage, this time to collect the teams’ cups in the overall standings of the Blancpain GT Series, Blancpain Endurance Series and Blancpain Sprint Series.
More prestigious car brands were represented by the winners of the Pro-Am Categories: Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron drove their AF Corse Ferrari to the title in the Blancpain Endurance Series, while Alexey Karachev took the sprint Pro-Am title at the wheel of his GT Russian Mercedes. Both performances gave their respective teams the teams’ title in their class.
The title in the Blancpain Endurance Series Am Cup was the subject of a nail-biting finish as well, with Ian Loggie and Julian Westwood claiming top spot with their Team Parker Audi after the final round at the Nürburgring. The teams’ title went to French Ferrari-squad Akka ASP. In the Blancpain Sprint Series Silver Cup Dutch youngster Jules Szymkowiak helped his Bentley HTP squad to the teams’ title, while taking the drivers crown himself.
The inaugural champions of the GT Sports Club were honoured as well, with Max Bianchi and Martin Lanting taking the Overall and Iron Cup titles respectively.
With the exciting 2015 season now over, the SRO Motorsports Group turns its attention to 2016, for the third season of the Blancpain GT Series, the second of the GT Sports Club and Ultracar Sports Club, and the inaugural year of a new intercontinental GT championship, covering races over four continents. The first race of this new challenge is the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, on February 5-7. Blancpain GT Series action starts with the official test days at Le Castellet, on March 9-10th.
Stephane Ratel (Founder and CEO SRO Motorsports Group): “2015 was another eventful, but successful, season in the existence of the SRO Motorsports Group. The Blancpain GT Series confirmed its status as the fastest and most important GT3 championship on the motorsport planet. We saw exciting racing, both in the Endurance Series and the Sprint Series, with the outcome of the title fights unsure until the last corner of the last lap of the last race. The Avon Tyres British GT Championship showed close racing as well and the inaugural season of the GT Sports Club and Ultracar Sports Club may be considered a success. That does not mean that here at the SRO Motorsports Group we will limit ourselves to a policy in which we are happy with the current situation. We are always on the lookout for new challenges, for new ways to please our ever increasing global fan base. With the creation of an intercontinental GT3 challenge, covering endurance races on four different continents, racing teams all over the world will be able to race at the highest level. In short, we are very much looking forward to the 2016 season. And last, but certainly not least, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our drivers, teams, event promotors and partners, especially Blancpain and Pirelli, without whom it would not be possible to organise and promote our series.”
Robin Frijns (Blancpain GT Series driver champion): “First of all I am very grateful to Vincent and all the people at WRT to have given me the opportunity to make my debut in GT racing. The previous two seasons were rather difficult for me and I was happy to be able to race again. This is not only my title, let that be clear. This is also Laurens’. Without him I would have never become champion and he deserves this crown as well. It was a pretty interesting season, and I consider the Algarve meeting the best moment of the year. Beating the Bentley on a track where it had the upper hand was very satisfying.”
Alex Buncombe (Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Cup driver champion): “It's a massive achievement for me to win the Blancpain Endurance Series title, I've been working very hard with RJN for years to get to this point. For me, the highlight of the season was our win at the Paul Ricard Blancpain 1000, a result which turned our championship around. The Blancpain Endurance Series is the most competitive GT championship in the world, the level of drivers and teams is unbelievable.”
Vincent Abril (Blancpain Sprint Series overall champion): “This is obviously the biggest achievement of my young career. This championship has a mega grid, great drivers and teams and winning the title surely means a lot. Thanks to SRO helping young drivers I could be on the grid last year and then got a fabulous opportunity to race for HTP this year. And in 2016 I will be a factory driver for Bentley, thanks to my title in the Blancpain Sprint Series! Now that I am part of that circle of professional drivers, my goal is to keep that status as long as possible, and win as many championships and races as possible. This is such a prestigious brand, being a Bentley Boy makes me very proud!”
Matt Griffin (Blancpain Endurance Series Pro-Am Cup champion): “In my opinion the Blancpain Endurance Series is by far the best GT Championship in the world, so to win the championship is fantastic and to win it with a round in hand is even better. Duncan and I have had a fantastic run in the Blancpain Endurance Series, finishing second at Monza, fourth at Silverstone, third at Paul Ricard and second at the Total 24 Hours of Spa. And we finished three times in the top-10 overall as well. I have to say a big thank you to Ferrari and AF Corse, as our strategy, reliability and speed has been fantastic. At the end of the day it's a Pro-Am championship, and Duncan this year has driven amazingly, so he definitely deserves this championship title.”
Julian Westwood (Blancpain Endurance Series Am Cup champion): “Winning any title is very special, but to win a title in the most competitive sports car series in the world is a great honour. The cars are great, the professionalism amongst the drivers and teams is second to none and the organisation of the series is first class, so that's what makes the title so very special. The highlight of the season was definitely winning our class at the Total 24 Hours of Spa. But even more special than that was finishing 14th overall against such a huge and professional field.”
Vincent Vosse (Team manager Belgian Audi Club Team WRT): “Three team titles and one driver title is not bad, but we got used to better results in the past. We were saved by the level of our drivers and by the fact that we entered four cars. If you miss the teams’ title when entering four cars, you really must be doing something wrong. So yes, mixed feelings at the end of this season. I am more happy by the fact that we fought right until the end for the drivers’ title in the Sprint Series, than by the fact that we have three teams’ titles. Unfortunately, we were not able to do the same in the endurance races, because we never really were very competitive there. But we will be back next year with a new car, and stronger and more determined than ever.”
2016 Blancpain GT Series Calendar
8th-10th March Official Blancpain GT Series Test Days Paul Ricard
08th-10th April Misano (ITA) – Sprint
23rd-24th April Monza (ITA) – Endurance 3 hours
07-08th May Brands Hatch (GBR) – Sprint
14th-15th May Silverstone (GBR) – Endurance 3 hours
24th-25th June Circuit Paul Ricard (FRA) – Endurance 1000kms
01st-03th July Nürburgring (DEU) – Sprint
05th July Official Test Day Total 24 Hours of Spa (BEL)
28th-31st July Total 24 Hours of Spa (BEL) – Endurance 24 hours
26th-28th August Budapest (HUN) - Sprint
17th-18th September Nürburgring (DEU) – Endurance 3 hours
01st-02nd October Barcelona (ESP) - Sprint
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Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT Racing
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2015, SRO promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series (with the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa), the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and the newly-created GT Sports Club and Ultracar Sports Club. SRO Motorsports Group has various franchise agreements, including the GT4 European Series.
SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC, a high-level technical centre at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.