2016 was the debut season for the brand new Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, which was reserved for cars conforming to the current FIA GT3 homologation regulations.
The 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup took place over six rounds, with drivers and teams competing for the honour to become the first ever champions.
Five of the events were a 2-hour endurance race and there was a special one hour race on Saturday morning at the 24 Hours of Le Mans weekend. The 2-hour races took place at Imola (Italy), Red Bull Ring (Austria), Le Castellet (France), Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) and Estoril (Portugal) and were an important part of the European Le Mans Series weekends.
The series was devised to give gentlemen drivers precedent over the professionals. Driver crews consist of two drivers. The first driver must be classified as bronze, with the second as either bronze, silver or gold, with Platinum drivers not permitted to compete.
The grids for the 2016 season saw quality over quantity in the first year of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup with the on track action certainly keeping everyone involved entertained.
The 2016 Team’s title went to British Team TF Sport with Turkish driver Salih Yoluc and Britain’s Euan Hankey winning the last race of the year to secure the Teams’ title in their Aston Martin Vantage and the all important invitation to the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. They faced a season long challenge from SMP Racing, FFF Racing Team by ACM and Mentos Racing and finished 21 points ahead of the SMP Racing Ferrari.
The Drivers’ crown went to a different crew, with Russian duo Victor Shaitar and Aleksey Basov securing the 2016 title with four wins from six races. The reason they didn’t take the Teams’ title for SMP Racing is because they missed the opening race in Italy and won at Le Mans in the no57 AF Corse Ferrari, while for the rest of the season they competed for SMP Racing. After the last race of the season in Portugal Shaitar and Basov were 14 points ahead of Yoluc and Hankey.