This week and next will see most European GT teams hit the highest level of frenzied pre season activity and testing imaginable as the 2017 racing season looms just around the corner.
Last weekend, continental Europe saw the first significant race of the year take place at Mugello with the International Endurance Series holding their first european round with many other series also about to start in the next week or two.
Starting at the top, both the European Le Mans Series and then the World Endurance Championship will be holding their pre-season Prologue tests at the Autodromo di Monza over the 28-29th March and 1st-2nd April respectively.
There we shall see the Beechdean AMR set out their first steps along the path of defending their 2016 GTE crown, this time alongside stablemate and series newcomers, TF Sport who shall be stepping up from GT3 racing in the Le Mans Cup series to the headline series by virtue of them securing last years GT3LMC Team title. For drivers Ross Gunn (BeechdeanAMR), Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey (TF Sport), the Prologue will be their first racing experience of motorsport at this level.
Photo's released yesterday show the Beechdean AMR team undertaking their customary seat fitting duties at the Prodrive factory following their winter test rebuild prior to the car being shipped out to Italy in the next few days.
Just a day later, the full WEC AMR squad will also descend onto the Italian circuit for their own Prologue with all three cars and six drivers due to attend. The likes of Darren Turner and Nicki Thiim will of course be on double driving duty over the two Prologue's with their attendance required across both the ELMS and WEC series.
The British GT Championship will be holding their Media Day at Snetterton next Tuesday with the five AMR stable cars already announced within that Championship. Reigning GT3 Champion Jonny Adam has already been extremely busy testing with TF Sport both in Europe and the UK ahead of his BGT and Blancpain commitments with Derek Johnston and Ahmad Al Harthy respectively.
Fellow SRO series, the European GT4 Series (Northern and Southern Cups) have been holding their preseason test today over in Dijon, France with three AMR GT4's in attendance there. The Northern Cup kicks off in Italy in just 10 days time whilst the new and revitalised Southern Cup following two weeks later. We are expecting to see two AMR GT4 cars in each series for almost the full season.
Solaris Motorsport thankfully still have a few more weeks in hand to re prepare their efforts before their first round of the International GT Open series in Estoril, Portugal at the end of April following Francesco Sini's monumental crash at the winter test at Paul Ricard a few weeks ago which all but destroyed their Vantage GT3. News has yet to emerge of whether or not the chassis is beyond repair.
Then, of course we have the 2017 VLN series starting again this weekend with nine gruelling races scheduled throughout the year as well as the infamous Nurburgring 24H in their midst. Here we would expect series stalwarts like R Motorsport and Avia Racing return again with their GT4 entries..
Other series with Aston Martin runners already confirmed include the likes of Hudmotorsport with a Vantage GT3 in the Bute GT Cup, CMRT by Eurasia in Blancpain Asia and GT Asia with another Vantage GT3 along with the new immerging China GT with multiple GT4's and the ever improving Australian GT further afield with Miedecke Stone Motorsport amongst others.
Then, we have the things we know nothing about - or not quite just yet!!
We have just had Aston Martin Lagonda launch the AMR inspired car range including a track only V8 Vantage amongst them and history has told us that AML usually like to race these road cars cum race cars at the hardest circuit imaginable - the Nordschliefe!
That has certainly been the case with the GT12 in 2015 followed by the GT8 last year so here's hoping the AMR Vantage Pro makes it to the race track some time in 2017!!
Photo credits - AML / Beechdean AMR / TF Sport / R Motorsport / European GT4 / Solaris