The official testing for the 2017 Blancpain GT Series kicked off recently at Paul Ricard. This year the world’s biggest GT series continues its upward projection on increasing the numbers and depth of talent on the grid. There will be 30 cars competing for the overall title, 34 in Sprint Cup and 57 full-season entries in the Endurance Cup.
As a driver the numbers get you up for a battle, but personally it is the level of talent now formulating on this grid which gives you that extra motivation to be at you’re best. We have drivers from FIA Formula 2, Formula E, DTM, WEC and more all taking part.
In recent years there has been a flux of single seater drivers switching over to the GT world. But this year seems more so than before, there are a few big names from the younger generation that were in the contention for Formula 1 stardom but are now looking for stability in their career.
Names such as Alex Lynn, Jake Dennis and Matthew Parry have now made strategic moves to race in some of the big stuff outside of single seaters to find a path that potentially holds more longevity.
What does that say for the future of British talent in Formula 1? We have a couple young stars brewing, but perhaps we’re looking at a dryer spell of Brits becoming World Champions after Lewis Hamilton steps down.
This year, I’ll be competing with the successful RJN Motorsport team alongside Matt Parry and GT Academy winner Matt Simmons in the Endurance Cup which includes the Spa 24 hours on board a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
The team also unveiled livery for 2017 with Motul expanding its support for the newly re-branded Motul Team RJN.
Over the winter months I worked with the people around me on assessing the best team to be in that suited me and my future. I had full faith this was the right decision and now that I’ve started to work with the specialised people at RJN and NISMO, I’m convinced this was the right call.
The GT-R NISMO GT3 is a proven championship and race-winning car with many qualities, together with the RJN crew and drivers we have a strong package to fight at the front.
As for the testing, SRO put on a well-orchestrated couple days. We had perfect conditions to complete the test programmes in our team.
You’re never sure who’s doing what, but the times seemed to show that some teams were running flat out at times. The quickest laps were good enough for pole last year but it’s all early days.
We tested our #22 car with Alex Buncombe and Lucas Ordonez from the #23 team doing some running in our car too.
This was mainly to put down some references and discuss set up as they’re both experienced GT-R specialists. The two Matts and I made progress every stint and ended up being competitive relative to the references so it was a successful outcome which proved our prep as a team worked well.
All the RJN drivers spent the week together on a training camp in Monaco with NISMO which was a valuable experience to strengthen the friendships and get some miles done to accelerate everyone being more comfortable as a team.
It was my first visit to the famous streets and it definitely gave me this sense of motivation to live in such an illustrious place.
The principality was beautiful and the landscape for training was perfect. On our days spent down there we bumped into many top drivers and cycled with some pro riders who were on their day off, thankfully.
Monaco is a hub for drivers and top athletes in their game, so to see this first hand was an eye opener.
From now, we will continue our preparation for round one at Monza on the April 22-23 and get ready for another competitive campaign in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.