Blancpain to crown combined champion for 2014 Sprint and Endurance

Overall champions will be crowned on the basis of points scored across the Blancpain-sponsored Endurance and Sprint Series in 2014

Blancpain to crown combined champion for 2014 Sprint and Endurance

Extending the sponsorship deal with the Swiss watchmaker to the championship known this year as the FIA GT Series has allowed promoter Stephane Ratel to push through a plan originally proposed for 2013.

He put his proposal for an FIA GT World Series, which would have linked FIA GTs and Blancpain, to the sport's governing body last winter following the demise of the FIA GT1 World Championship, but his idea was turned down.

Blancpain GT Series titles for both drivers and teams will be awarded and there will be a €100,000 (£85,000) prize fund and a tyre deal with Pirelli, the sole supplier in both series, worth €140,000 (£115,000) for the joint champions.

The separate classifications for the Sprint and Endurance series will remain.

"This is more about having one integrated programme that we can promote together," said Ratel. "It will be easier with one brand.

"Blancpain has built a name in the world of GT racing and become a kind of reference. Now we are receiving money from a sponsor rather than paying the FIA [a sanction fee], which means we can help our teams financially."

Ratel stressed that he was not cutting his ties with the FIA.

"No one has slammed the door on anyone. We are still in discussions with the FIA about the support of their services on things like the Balance of Performance," he said.

The new overall classification will help bolster grids in the Sprint Series, Ratel believes.

Reduced entry fees will be offered to teams contesting the two series, whose calendars have been co-ordinated to help teams take part in both with the same machinery.

The five-date BES calendar has been tweaked since its publication in August. The Silverstone date has been moved forward one week to May 25.

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