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The Blancpain GT Series from up close

2017.08.09

As part of the European Truck Racing championship and Festival, The Blancpain GT Series will again be a guest of the Hungaroring. Last year, the audience gave a warm welcome to the race, which showcases luxury models. This is a relatively little-known series, so let’s get to know it a bit better.

GT stands for Grand Touring, which are exclusive cars with bigger cubic capacities than those of regular cars. The term „GT” has been in use since the 60’s, but no race existed for these cars.

GT racing only exploded into popular culture in 1994. This was the year, when Jürgen Barth, Patrick Peter and the very young Stéphane Ratel created the BPR GT series, where BPR naturally stands for the initials of the founder’s surnames. The series proved to be very popular, because one could take part in long duration races with a relatively low budget. The races lasted for four hours, with two or three pilots giving each other the wheel. The series became so popular, that in 1997 it ran under the flag of FIA, as FIA GT World Cup. In the following year, the Hungaroring’s audiance too had the chance to marvel at these wonderful race cars, the victory was earned by the future Formula 1 star, Mark Webber, alongside Bernd Schneider.

The championship has gone through several changes since then, for example, the duration of the races, technical rules, and even the name of the race were all subject to frequent changes. One thing, however, remained constant, namely the person of Stéphane Ratel, who could be rightly called the „Bernie Ecclestone” of the sport. The professional, who is 53 now, worked tirelessly to enable the GT cars to have a prestigious championship. This was no easy task, he had to build everything up again with a new concept numerous times. He was successful however, as this branch of automobile racing is having a renaissance, signaled by a field of 50 cars.

Currently, two series are running side by side, one of them is the Blancpain Endurance Series, the other is the Blancpain Spring Series. The runs of the former are longer (at least three hours), while the latter’s is shorter, only 60 minutes, although a qualifying race is held on Saturday. Despite the short duration – out of respect for the tradition – two racers change each other during the runs. An advantage of the Sprint Series is that television channels like to broadcast it due to its short duration. The racers and teams wishing to adhere to traditions, that is, long duration races, can take part in the races of the Endurance Series. The two series has their own, individual calendars. Hungary will host the Sprint Series in 2017, for the second time. Despite the separateness, at the end of the year a combined champion is crowned so the points earned at the Hungaroring are important as well to snatch the  final victory.  

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