Eriksson pinpoints Paul Ricard 1000 km as best opportunity yet
1000 km in six hours – it’s another high-speed weekend of endurance action coming up for Jimmy Eriksson, with the Blancpain GT Series moving into the second half of the season with one of the most popular events on the calendar.
Marking the sixth BGTS round overall and third Endurance Cup event of the year, the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000 km will see the field fight it out over the longest race so far this season.
While the previous two Endurance Cup races – which both saw Eriksson and HTP Motorsport team-mates Maximilian Buhk (GER) and Franck Perera (FRA) end up on the podium – ran for a duration of three hours, this weekend’s battle in the south of France will be contested over six, meaning twice the amount of driving for Eriksson and his colleagues.
“We head into this event in a really optimistic frame of mind, and I think Paul Ricard might be our best shot yet this season,” says Jimmy Eriksson. “The last thing we would do in a championship as tough as this is take anything for granted, but we know that we’ve got a competitive package and three drivers who are capable of going at a rapid pace. We have probably been the strongest car out there towards the end of the previous races, so the double distance this week should play to our strengths.”
Eriksson, who has claimed a total of three podiums from the opening five Blancpain GT Series meetings (including the Sprint Cup rounds), also believes the Circuit Paul Ricard layout could suit the handling of the #84 HTP Motorsport crew’s Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“All the teams tested at Paul Ricard back in March before the start of the season, and we had a productive time there,” Eriksson continues. “Our car is at its best in long and fast, sweeping corners, and there’s plenty of that at Paul Ricard. The long straight could hurt us a little bit, but over the course of a six-hour race we can hopefully offset that with consistent lap times and controlled tyre wear. It will not be easy, but looking at it here and now I’d say this is a great opportunity for us.”
Eriksson, Buhk and Perera currently sit 17 points adrift of Lamborghini trio Mirko Bortolotti (ITA), Andrea Caldarelli (ITA) and Christian Engelhart (GER) at the head of the Endurance Cup standings.
Ferrari drivers Alessandro Pier Guidi (ITA), Michele Rugolo (ITA) and Pasin Lathouras (THA) are third overall, six points behind Eriksson/Buhk/Perera.
The longer race distance means additional points will be up for grabs this weekend, with 33 instead of 25 to the winning car, 24 for second place and 19, 15, 12, 9, 6, 4, 2 and 1 respectively for the remaining top ten finishers.
Practice for the 2017 Circuit Paul Ricard 1000 km commences on Friday, with 61 cars entered for the event. The race itself will get underway at 18.00 local French time on Saturday evening, running into the dark with a scheduled midnight finish.
Blancpain GT Series | Rd. 6
Endurance Cup | Rd. 3
Circuit Paul Ricard 1000 km, France
All times local – GMT+02:00
Free Practice: 13.30-15.00
Pre-qualifying (practice): 16.25-17.55
Race (1000 km): 18.00-00.00
Circuit Paul Ricard
Lap length: 5.842 km
Race duration: six hours (1000 km)
TV / live stream
All Blancpain GT Series races are broadcast LIVE at www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live, with Eurosport also airing a highlights package in the days following each round.
Live timing for each session of the 2017 Blancpain GT Series is available at www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live#live-timing.