With Endurance racing thankfully back in full swing after last weekend's 6 Hours of Silverstone, RaceDepartment is taking some time out of our busy schedule to shed some light on another quality endurance racing series: The Blancpain GT Series. Whether you're a rookie or a Blancpain veteran, there's still time to dust up on your knowledge of the championship ahead of the first Endurance Series event at Monza this very weekend. So, without further adieu... What is Blancpain? Taking it’s name from a Swiss watch maker, the Blancpain GT Series first burst into life in 2011 as a European endurance racing series for FIA-spec GT3 and GT4 cars, in a similar manner as the current European Le Mans series runs with GTE and Le Mans Prototypes. From the start, the series managed to draw in several high profile names of old and new. For example, the inaugural series featured drivers such as Eric van de Poele, Frédéric Makowiecki, Tomáš Enge, Johnny Herbert, Stefan Johansson, Felipe Albuquerque, Marcel Fässler, Timo Scheider, Álvaro Parente, David Brabham, Nicolas Lapierre, Oliver Turvey, and both of the Mansell brothers, from the very off the series was one to take series. However, it was not until the collapse of the FIA GT1 and GT3 series and their subsequent amalgamation into the Blancpain Championship did Blancpain begin to push way from the concept of being a niche racing series and into a fully fledged and widely respected racing discipline. So how does it all work? Blancpain itself is comprised of two, technically, separate championships: the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup and the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. Whilst both series are technically different, they feature pretty much exactly the same driver and team lineups. The Sprint series is in essence a re-skinned version of the aforementioned FIA GT3 championship, whilst the Endurance series harks back to the original Blancpain series. A typical race weekend for the Sprint series consists of two 90 minute free practice sessions, a 60 minute qualifying race, followed final by another 60 minute race to pick the winner. For the Endurance championship a more traditional qualifying session decides the grid, before the field dukes it out over, typically, 3 hours. Exceptions to this rule are the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, and, for 2016, the 1000km Paul Ricard. Cars are divided into two separate categories, Pro and Pro-Am, exactly as GTE Pro and GTE Am classes are separated in the WEC. The calendar for both championships generally consists of five events each, with the big event being the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps where points are distributed at the 6, 12, and of course 24 hour intervals. Points are distributed in the same way as in F1 (25,18,15, etc.), whilst half points are awarded at the 6 and 12 hour marks at Spa. Come the end of the season, the points are totted up with a champion for both categories in the Sprint and Endurance individually being crowned, as well as an overall champion for the entire series. Whilst a further award is given called The Silver Cup, which is awarded to Pro category cars fielding two Silver ranked drivers. Why should I care? An excellent question my hypothetical racing buddy, why should we care? Well for starters, if you love diversity then quite simply, you'll love Blancpain. Whilst series such as the WEC have three to four unique cars - at best - in each category, the diversity in Blancpain is staggering in contrast. Ranging from Aston Martin Vantages to Lamborghini Huracans, Blancpain has pretty much every sports car manufacturer covered in one way or another. There's just something so satisfying seeing such a range of cars, all of their own unique quirks and tricks, fighting tooth and nail in a tightly competitive field, something I'm sure any racing fan can appreciate. The driver lineups are not half bad either. If anything the field has grown ever stronger than it's impressive 2011 lineup, now containing a wonderful mismatch of F1, Le Mans, Sportscar, open-wheel, and touring car talents, Blancpain has a proven track record of bringing in world class racers as well as very promising endurance rookies. Great! Where can I watch it? The real selling point of Blancpain is its' accessibility. For 2016 not only is every race and qualifying streamed live - completely free of charge I might add, on YouTube, but full replays and highlights packages are also available for us racing fans to peruse at our own free will. Say what you will about the state of F1's accessibility, but Blancpain is a racing series that knows how to best appease its' fan-base. Here at RaceDepartment, we will also be live streaming the races along with our very own chatbox so you can comment and discuss the races with hundreds of other like-minded individuals! So who should I root for? Well that's totally up to you my good friend. If you like cheering for a proven winner, cheering for a WRT Audi entry would be a good bet - considering their proven track record of four team titles in five seasons. Likewise, as last year's Endurance Series champions, the Nissan GT Academy Team could well be a force to be reckoned with once again. Those of the British persuasion might be taken by one of the two Bentley entries. Having picked up one of Nissan's title winning drivers from last season, Wolfgang Reip to be precise, and having won the Sprint Series opener at Misano they should have good momentum coming into Monza. Meanwhile, with 15 Ferrari's and 10 Lambos on the grid, it wouldn't be too far fetched to place a bet or two on one of the Huracan's or brand spanking new Ferrari 488 GT3's taking a home victory. Outside of that, Robert is your fathers male sibling! If this article has tickled your fancy then make sure to tune into the first Endurance Championship race this weekend from the Temple of Speed: Monza, right here on RaceDepartment as we bring you live streamed coverage of the race in full!