Top-level international GT racing returns to the Brands Hatch next month for the first time in 18 years.

The Blancpain GT Series on May 17 and 18 will recall a tradition which first started with the Guards Trophy in the 1960s, where the world’s best sports and GT cars would be put to the test on the majestic full circuit.

Back then the race would attract Formula 1 drivers of the era and this summer’s event will also include a contingent of former Grand Prix drivers.

Heading this list is Paralympic hero Alex Zanardi, making his first appearance at Brands Hatch since his double gold medal-winning performance at London 2012.

The Italian made his racing return in the previous round at Nogaro with a specially-adapted BMW Z4 and instantly showed top ten pace.

He will be dovetailing his racing commitments alongside a training campaign for the 2016 Games in Rio.

“The Blancpain Sprint Series is a great championship and I am very proud to be part of it with BMW,” said Zanardi before the opening round.

“We had a good testing programme, so we are well prepared.

“Personally I want to be really close to the best BMWs.

“You have to consider that the other drivers have more experience than me in this format, but it would be fantastic if I could qualify in the top ten.”

Zanardi’s competition will come from a field packed with sensational supercars including the Audi R8, Lamborghini Gallardo, Mercedes SLS AMG, Ferrari 458 Italia and McLaren 12C, all flexing their muscles on the Grand Prix circuit.

Not only will this be one of the most expensive grids of the season, it’s set to be the best-sounding too, providing a glorious symphony of power to soundtrack the action.

The weekend will feature two chances to see the cars in combat, with a pair of one hour sprint races on the Grand Prix circuit on the Sunday, with practice and qualifying taking place on the preceding day.

Races will also feature pit-stops, with all teams swapping drivers except for Zanardi, who will race solo.

In addition to the Blancpain GT Series races there will be further supercar action from the GT Cup Championship, plus single seater thrills courtesy of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship, and Le Mans-style sportscars with the Radical European Masters.

There will also be a huge display of supercars, a free pit walk and autograph session, funfair and more.

Tickets for the Blancpain GT Series at Brands Hatch on May 17 and 18 are available from £21 with free entry for children aged 12 and under.

For more information, call 0843 453 9000.

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