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Sunday’s Main Race went to AF Corse’s Christoph Ulrich (#51 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3), who held off team-mate Patrick Van Glabeke (#488 Ferrari 488 GT3) to claim his maiden win in SRO Motorsports Group’s Bronze-only drivers series.

In the Iron Cup, US charger Stephen Earle reclaimed the class points lead from rival Klaus Dieter Frers (#3 Artega Rennsport Ferrari 488 GT3) with a crucial win aboard the #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.

Having secured his maiden win of the season during Saturday’s Qualifying Race, pole sitter Van Glabeke led the way at the start but fellow front row starter Ulrich was immediately on the move, surging ahead at the first corner.

That would prove a pivotal moment in the 40-minute contest. Indeed, with overtaking opportunities few and far between at the notoriously tight and twisty 4.381km Hungarian Grand Prix venue, Ulrich managed to keep a charging Van Glabeke at bay throughout the race.

Behind the battling AF Corse duo, there was a titanic scrap for the final step of the Overall podium, which involved Iron Cup title contenders Earle and Frers. The moustachioed Texan enjoyed a strong getaway to move past his German rival right at the start as well.

Frers actually lost another position to Luxemburg’s Alexis de Bernardi and the #65 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. The Artega Rennsport ace was soon back on Earle’s tail though, and he tried every move in the book to get past the #111 Ferrari, but to no avail.

Overall points leader Pons came home fifth after a challenging outing, which saw him drop several positions at the start and spin at Turn 9 in the early stages. The Frenchman still drove a spirited recovery race to vindicate his title credentials.

De Bernardi added more points to his 2017 tally with sixth place ahead of HP Racing’s Coach McKansy (#17 Lamborghini Huracan GT3) and Christian Hook (#33 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3). Ninth was Oliver Baumann in the #68 DB-Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.

Louis Philippe Soenen grabbed the final point on offer in the Overall category, while also collecting another Iron Cup podium with the #50 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3. Unfortunately, Karim Ojjeh could not defend his chances in the Main Race after his #2 Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3 proved beyond repair following an incident in Saturday’s Qualifying Race.

While Pons can no longer be caught in the Overall standings, the Iron Cup battle is going down to the wire as Earle leaves Budapest with three points in hand over Frers.

Anthony Pons, #72 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The Budapest weekend was quite tricky, though the car setup was perfect and I was very happy with it. During the Qualifying Race, we were very strong but unfortunately we took a penalty, which made our lives harder for Sunday’s Main Race. I was probably a bit too cautious at the start and then I just made a mistake when pushing hard to recover. Despite the mishap, I kept attacking because I wanted to give the guys at AKKA ASP something to cheer about.

“Winning the 2017 Blancpain GT Sports Club championship is very satisfying. Furthermore this is my first individual title. The competition has been very fierce all year long with several drivers giving me a hard time across the events, including my team-mate Daniele Perfetti. The key has been to deliver consistent, mistake-free weekends. The strategy paid off and I’m really happy about it.”

Christoph Ulrich, #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3: “At the start it was ‘all or nothing’! I knew that my car had a little bit more top speed but Patrick’s machine is better in cornering, and overtaking here at the Hungaroring is quite difficult. I just went for it and was able to get a small advantage there. He kept the pressure all race long but in the end I managed to hold the position to secure my first-ever win in the Blancpain GT Sports Club. I’m delighted but I think the true feeling will only sink in later on. At the moment, I’m just happy and tired after a tough race in very hot conditions.”

Stephen Earle, #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3: “I hope the battle was as exciting to watch as it was to race! Klaus [Dieter Frers] is very good with the new car. I knew I had to get by at the beginning and then just focus on my pace. After all the racing I have been doing with the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup I did not have much gas left but I held on and I’m back in the lead of the Iron Cup.”

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Professional drivers and manufacturer-supported entries only, GT-specific circuit improvements and better race management flexibility highlight 2017 changes

The FIA has opened applications for entries in the 2017 FIA GT World Cup, scheduled to take place on 16-19 November at the Macau Grand Prix.

The 6.2-kilometre (3.8-mile) Guia street circuit is unique in the region and regarded as one of the world’s best and most challenging driver’s tracks.

Initiated in 1954, the Macau GP has been a must-see event for more than four decades and it took another leap forward in 2015 with the introduction of the FIA GT World Cup, awarding World Cup-winning status to the successful driver and a manufacturer.

The inaugural 18-lap race was won by Maro Engel for Mercedes-Benz in 2015, with Audi’s Laurens Vanthoor winning a remarkable 2016 race despite finishing the race on his roof.

The Macau Grand Prix will look to build on its success in 2016, where almost 700,000 viewers (an increase of 1320% on 2015) tuned into the livestream of races from Macao on FIA-owned channels such as Facebook and FIA.com. This was in addition to the global television coverage that the famous event received.

For the third running of this unique single-driver celebration of elite GT drivers and manufacturers, the FIA GT World Cup will feature a number of changes introduced with the aim of further boosting the prestige of the race.

The following changes will be undertaken this year, thanks to the joint efforts of the FIA, the AAMC and the Macau Grand Prix Organizing Committee:

  • Only professional drivers (Gold or Platinum standard) will be permitted to enter
  • Only manufacturer-supported cars will be included
  • No entry fee for manufacturers (only individual cars)
  • 18-25 (maximum) cars
  • Improvement in the recovery of GT cars (following new Technical Regulations and new equipment for this specific purpose)
  • Safety improvements to be made specifically for GT cars specifically focusing on kerbs ad T1 & T2, debris fences, better use of TECPRO barriers

The race format will remain the same, with two 30-minute practice sessions, a 30-minute qualifying session, 12-lap (or 60-minute) Qualifying Race, and the Main Race of 18 laps (or 75 minutes).

Following the timing challenges encountered with the 2016 race due to an extended red flag period, the GT racing sessions will be better scheduled to maximise the track time for the FIA GT World Cup. These changes will see more time allowed before and after the races to cater for delays, or unforeseen on-track circumstances.

The restart procedure will also be reduced from ten minutes to five minutes at the resumption of racing after a red flag.

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No fewer than 64 cars will be eligible to score points for the second round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge, the 24 Hours of Spa.

After their win in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Ferrari will travel to Belgium as the championship leader, but thanks to their podium finishes in Australia, Porsche and Bentley are not far behind.

Due to the rule change at the beginning of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge, all GT3 cars in the Total 24 Hours of Spa are now eligible to score points for the global GT3 series. Mercedes-AMG, absent at the opening round in Australia, will try to make up for lost ground by bringing the largest delegation of all eleven manufacturers to Spa: there will be 13 GT3 cars with the three-pointed star on the grid.
However, Ferrari will be in a good position to defend its lead. Not only because several of their teams will enter a full professional line-up, but also because there are eleven Prancing Horses at the start, increasing Ferrari’s chances to score valuable points. Their closest competitors in the Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturer standings – Porsche and Bentley – will have three representatives each.
In the driver standings, Marc Lieb is the highest placed driver who will be taking part in the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The German driver finished second in Bathurst and will be co-driving the #911 Herberth Motorsport Porsche in Spa. Three points down the standings are Bentley Boys Steven Kane, Guy Smith and Oliver Jarvis, sharing the #7 Team M-Sport Continental GT3.

After retiring in the opening round, defending Intercontinental GT Challenge driver champion Laurens Vanthoor hopes to score important points in his home race, at the wheel of the #117 KÜS Team75 Bernhard Porsche.

Please note that in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, points will only be scored at the end of the 24 Hours of Spa. There will be no points distribution at the 6- or 12-hour mark. Only the first two cars of each manufacturer will score points.

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Will Stevens and Markus Winkelhock (#2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8) claimed victory in the Blancpain GT Series main race at the Zolder track. A safety car intervention in the dying minutes meant there was only one lap of racing left when the lights went green again.

Stevens held off all attacks, with Filip Salaquarda crossing the line in second, in the #75 ISR Audi he shares with Clemens Schmid. The #17 Team WRT Audi of Stuart Leonard and Robin Frijns finished third.

The Silver Cup honours went to Jules Szymkowiak and Fabian Schiller (#85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG), with Giacomo Piccini and Michael Broniszewski (#11 Kessel Racing Ferrari) taking their first Pro-Am Cup win of the year.

After yesterday’s hectic start, polesitter Stuart Leonard was determined to follow the starting procedure to the letter. Others didn’t, and Leonard was passed by Michael Meadows in the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG before the lights went green. Meadows was given a drive-through penalty, effectively ruining any of his chances of a podium finish.

This transformed the duel between Clemens Schmid (#75 ISR Audi) and Markus Winkelhock (#2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8) – both of whom had managed to overtake Leonard on the opening lap – to a fight for the lead. Winkelhock managed to get alongside the white Audi once, but Schmid kept his cool and held on to first.

Both Audis entered pit lane at the same time, but then the pit stop of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT crew made the difference. Will Stevens (in the #2 Audi) was able to leave the pit lane with a lead of a couple of seconds over Filip Salaquarda, now at the wheel of the #75. The Czech driver’s position came under threat, when Robin Frijns (who had taken over from Stuart Leonard) set a series of fastest laps. However, Frijns could not manage to overtake Salaquarda.

When the race was neutralized after a contact between the #86 and #88 Mercedes-AMG cars, the gaps between the leaders was reduced to naught. It took a while to clear the track, and when the safety car came in, there was only one lap of racing left.

Stevens handily used the presence of a backmarker behind him to drive away from Salaquarda and Frijns, and they in turn had to manage the presence of yet another Audi, the #5 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 in the hands of local hero Dries Vanthoor.

Although Frijns tried to find a gap twice, Salaquarda managed to hold to second. The first victory of the Winkelhock-Stevens duo was never under threat, and in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup driver standings the German-British pairing are now only five points behind leaders Maxi Buhk and Franck Perera, who finished in sixth in Zolder. Qualifying Race-winners Frijns and Leonard also made a jump forward in the standings, and are now seven points down.

In Silver Cup polesitter David Fumanelli made a slight mistake in the second lap, and the #42 Strakka Motorsport McLaren dropped a couple of places. That promoted the #85 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG to first in Silver Cup, but that was not enough for Jules Szymkowiak and Fabian Schiller.

The youngest duo of the field had started the Qualifying Race from last, but some inspired driving in both races eventually led to a more than decent eighth place overall. The runner-up spot in the Silver Cup went to the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Lorenzo Case and Phil Quaife, after contact in the final corner dropped the #67 Attempto Racing Lamborghini of Pohler and Van Splunteren and the #42 Strakka Motorsport McLaren down the order. The latter was also penalised with a one-minute stop & go, which was converted to an addition of 90 seconds to its race time.

In the Pro-Am Cup Michael Broniszewski quickly fought his way to the front, at the wheel of the #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari. He passed the leading Ferraris of Piti Bhirombhakdi and Alexander Mattschull in the opening laps and the reigning Blancpain GT Series Pro-Am champion – who had never raced in Zolder before – never looked back.

Giacomo Piccini finished the job in the second half of the race. It was a great recovery from the Italian-Polish duo and the Kessel Racing team, after an unlucky spin in Saturday’s qualifying left them with a badly damaged car. With Bhirombhakdi and Carlo Van Dam claiming second in Pro-Am and the Ferrari 458 Italia of Stephen Earle and David Perel scoring full points in the Am Cup, the weekend ended on a high for the Swiss Kessel Racing squad.

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