Ryan Ratcliffe 2018

Produced by Abbott Designs Ltd


Triple Eight Racing all set for Blancpain opener

The world-famous Autodromo Nazionale Monza near Milan is the destination for the new-for-2015 Groundhog-liveried Triple Eight Racing BMW Z4 GT3, as the Blancpain Endurances Series gets underway this weekend (11-12 April) in Northern Italy. 

With experience of the series from 2014 (Silverstone and Nurburgring), Triple Eight Racing and it’s drivers Joe Osborne, Ryan Ratcliffe and Lee Mowle head into their first full season of the top European GT series together, determined to deliver a strong performance across the five rounds.

For 25-year-old Osborne, 2015 marks a change. Following a very competitive Pan-European season in the MP-Motorsport AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage, he switches to his British GT steed, the 4.4-litre V8 Z4, and will lead the driving effort of the British squad.

Together, Osborne and Mowle showed encouraging pace last weekend at Oulton Park in the British GT opener, where in an action-packed pair of sprint races, the pair took third and fifth place finishes. Meanwhile, Monza will give 21-year-old Ratcliffe his first competitive race outing since December, where he competed in the GTC class of the Gulf 12 Hours.

Competition will be tough this weekend, in Italy as there are over 60 entries for the opening event, and no less than 22 cars entered in the Pro-Am Cup class, in which Triple Eight Racing competes. With three other BMW Z4s entered and seven other leading sportscar brands represented, including nine Ferrari 458 Italias, a good result will be hotly contested.

The Autodromo Nazionale Monza cuts through a glorious parkland setting and features two long straights: The back straight leads from the Ascari Chicane to the Parabolica Curve and is 958m long. The main straight, which connects the Parabolica with the first chicane, has a length of some 1,194m and gives the powerful GT3 cars a real opportunity to stretch their legs.

Nicknamed ‘the temple of speed’, Monza is immersed in a rich motorsport history, steeped in tradition, atmosphere and passion. Above all, Monza is the one place on the calendar where the team’s BMW Z4 GT3 will reach its highest maximum speed of the year.

With a low downforce set-up being a key requirement on this track, the drivers’ skills will be put to the test both in the high-speed corners and under heavy braking, while acceleration out of the low-speed chicanes is a must.

After a busy Saturday of practice that includes four hours of track time for the team, Sunday begins with qualifying at 15:10 BST (16:10 CET), before the race itself begins at 13:30 BST (14:30 CET). All of the action will be covered live on the series website, and by delayed coverage on Sunday afternoon on Motors UK and Motors Europe from 19:30 BST / 20:30 CET.

Ryan Ratcliffe, Triple Eight Racing driver:

“As I’m fairly new to a lot of European tracks, every one I go to I tend to think ‘Yup, this is my new favourite track’, but I came here before driving at Paul Ricard and I still think this is my favourite so far. The history of the track and the banking gives it a very special feel. The boys had a really good start to their British GT season last week; I think we’ve now proven that we have a better race car this year than we had last year. There are some long races in this series and I think we have a very good car in race trim, so I’m really looking forward to it. This is actually my second weekend in Blancpain, but we won’t talk about the first! It’s going to be my first long distance race in a GT3 car, and I’m looking forward to doing longer stints and getting my foot in with the car. We’re in it to win it, but I personally just want the experience of the European tracks and a couple of class podiums. Myself, Joe and Lee all have the ability to do well, but I hope we’ll be on of the car at the front of the Pro-Am field come the end of the year.”

Follow Triple Eight on Twitter @888official to get the lowdown.