Two drivers who’d come close to reaching their respective top levels in open-wheel – Felix Serralles and Raffaele Marciello – have instead gone the sports car route for 2017 having been confirmed at Jerome Policand’s Team AKKA-ASP for the upcoming season in the Blancpain GT Series.
The two drivers will be split in a pair of Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars for both the Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup races, Serralles with Dani Juncadella in the No. 88 car and Marciello with Michael Meadows in the No. 90 car. Tristan Vautier (No. 88) and Matthias Lauda (No. 90), both of whom have full-season appointments in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship, respectively, are the third drivers for these two PRO class entries at Endurance Cup races.
Serralles enjoyed a particularly busy offseason with his first test in both an IndyCar with Andretti Autosport at Sebring International Raceway, and in an Oreca 05 Nissan LMP2 car with G-Drive Racing (with Jota Sport running the operation) at the FIA WEC end-of-term rookie test in Bahrain.
After two years in Indy Lights, first with Belardi Auto Racing and then with Carlin, Serralles won a few races but was ultimately in the eye of the storm at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca season finale when he pulled aside to allow Ed Jones through to score enough points for the title. The Puerto Rican needed to sort his own future for 2017, and now has.
Marciello was at a similar open-wheel crossroads after his stint in Ferrari’s Young Driver Academy ended. Three seasons in GP2 where he struggled to properly contend for a championship saw him score only one win and finish at best, fourth in the standings. Marciello also had a handful of race weekends as third driver with Sauber F1 Team in 2015, but never competed beyond a practice session.
Juncadella has previous touring car experience in DTM and also did a handful of free practice sessions in F1 with Sahara Force India. Meadows has both single-seater and GT experience. Interestingly, Juncadella beat Marciello to the 2012 Formula 3 Euroseries title.
The full Team AKKA-ASP roster is below. Testing takes place in Paul Ricard March 13-14 with the seasons opening at Misano April 1-2 (Sprint) and Monza April 22-23 (Endurance).
• Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
#90 Raffaele MARCIELLO (ITA) – Michael MEADOWS (GBR) – Matthias LAUDA (AUT)
#88 Felix SERRALLES (PRI) – Daniel JUNCADELLA (ESP) – Tristan VAUTIER (FRA)
#87 Jean Luc BEAUBELIQUE (FRA) – Mauro RICCI (ITA) – Jules GOUNON (FRA)
#89 Daniele PERFETTI (SUI) – Alex FONTANA (SUI) – Ludovic BADEY (FRA)
• Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup
#90 Raffaele MARCIELLO (ITA) – Michael MEADOWS (GBR)
#88 Felix SERRALLES (PRI) – Daniel JUNCADELLA (ESP)
#87 Jean Luc BEAUBELIQUE (FRA) – Jules GOUNON (FRA)
#89 Christophe BOURRET (FRA) – Jean-Philippe BELLOC (FRA)
• Blancpain GT Sport Club
#72 Anthony Pons (FRA)