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International GT Open - Final round - Barcelona

28th - 29th October 2017

Event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello

Barcelona kept up to the tradition and the GT Open overall title was again decided in Catalonia during the last stage of the season.

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8 drivers / 1 goal

Leading the standings was Giovanni Venturini (Imperiale Racing #63 - Lamborghini Huracan GT3), who since Silverstone shared the wheel of his Lamborghini Huracán with Marco Mapelli. He had 97 points, but he also had the only driver (with his initial team-mate Thomas Biagi) to score points on every rounds, thus having to drop one result if he took points in both races in Barcelona.

Five points behind only were Fran Rueda and Victor Bouveng (BMW Team Teo Martín #65 - BMW M6 GT3).

The third contenders were Albert Costa and Philipp Frommenwiler (Emil Frey Lexus Racing #54 - Lexus RC F GT3), who were 14 points behind the top.

Thomas Biagi (Imperiale Racing #1 - Lamborghini Huracan GT3), the reigning co-champion, now paired with GT Open super-expert Raffaele Giammaria, was the second card in the hands of Imperiale Racing, 16 points behind former team mate Giovanni Venturini.

Mathematically, also the pair composed of Miguel Ramos and Mikkel Mac (Spirit of Race #488 - Ferrari 488 GT3) was in the title race, with 19 points behind the leader, it was quite difficult (with still 30 to be awarded).

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Saturday 28th

Qualifying driver 1

Qualifying 1 saturday morning in Barcelona saw title contenders logically topping the rankings.

Local hero Albert Costa (Emil Frey Lexus Racing #54 - Lexus RC F GT3) took pole in 1'44.348.

With a 0.021 second gap Christian Engelhart (Imperiale Racing #23 - Lamborghini Huracan GT3) took second place.

The second line was constituted by Marco Mapelli (Imperiale Racing #63 - Lamborghini Huracan GT3) and by Dominik Farnbacher (Farnbacher Racing #55 - Lexus RC F GT3).

The top 16 cars were separated by less than one second.

Tom Onslow-Cole (SPS Automotive Performance #20 - Mercedes AMG GT3) was fastest in the Pro-Am class with 5th overall time.

Rinat Salikhov (Rinaldi Racing #333 - Ferrari 488 GT3) debuted in the GT Open taking the Am pole.

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Race 1

It was a lively start, with poleman Albert Costa (Emil Frey Lexus Racing #54 - Lexus RC F GT3 ) sandwiched immediately by Marco Mapelli (Imperiale Racing #63 - Lamborghini Huracan GT3), Christian Engelhart (Imperiale Racing #23 - Lamborghini Huracan GT3) and Raffaele Giammaria (Imperiale Racing #1 - Lamborghini Huracan GT3), while Victor Bouveng (BMW Team Teo Martín #65 - BMW M6 GT3) dived into the inside at first corner, where in the middle of the group there was a contact between Marco Cioci (AF Corse #8 - Ferrari 488 GT3) and Vitantonio Liuzzi (FFF Racing Team by ACM - #555 - Lamborghini Huracan GT3), which sent Craig Dolby (Nigel Mustill / Wessex Vehicles #39 - Lamborghini Gallardo Rex GT3) hitting the wall violently.

In the lead, Marco Mapelli had already a gap on Victor Bouveng, Christian Engelhart, Albert Costa, Raffaele Giammaria, Rob Bell (Shaun Balfe / Balfe Motorsport #22 - McLaren 650 S GT3) and Tom Onslow-Cole, while Dominik Farnbacher dropping to 12th.

In lap 10, Salikhov spun after being hit by Tappy (Garage 59 #24 - Garage 59) , while Jordan Witt (Jordan Racing #10 - Bentley GT3) stoped on the track (turbo electronics) , prompting the safety-car.

On lap 16, Philipp Frommenwiler (Emil Frey Lexus Racing #54 - Lexus RC F GT3) stopped on the track (broken gearbox radiator), with the safety-car forced to intervene.

The closing laps did not bring big changes, with Giovanni Venturini winning ahead Mikkel Mac (Spirit of Race #488 - Ferrari 488 GT3), Farnbacher, Fran Rueda (BMW Team Teo Martín #65 - BMW M6 GT3), António Da Costa (BMW Team Teo Martín #51 - BMW M6 GT3) and Thomas Biagi, who had lost the front bonnet.

In Pro-Am, thanks to the two safety-cars, Andrea Caldarelli (SF Racing # 5 - Ferrari 488 GT3) climbed up from 5th place and won.

In Am, Marcio Basso / Nono Figueiredo (Sports and You #12 - Mercedes AMG GT3) won ahead Rinat Salikhov / Sergey Borisov.

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Sunday 29th

Qualifying driver 2

The Teo Martín BMWs dominated Qualifying 2 sunday morning, taking first row with António Da Costa in pole (1.43.988) and Fran Rueda second, 276 thousandths behind.

Row 2 was for Caldarelli (SF Racing #5 - Ferrari 488 GT3), fastest in Pro-Am, and Allam Khodair (Drivex School #16 - Mercedes AMG GT3), with Mikkel Mac (Spirit of Race #488 - Ferrari 488 GT3) and Philipp Frommenwiler (Emil Frey Lexus Racing #54 - Lexus RC F GT3) in row3.

Nonô Figueiredo (Sports and You #12 - Mercedes AMG GT3) was fastest among Am.

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Race 2

Poleman António Da Costa took perfect start and so did the two Lexus of Philipp Frommenwiler and Mario Farnbacher, with Fran Rueda getting a little bit trapped.

Andrea Caldarelli was fifth ahead of Giovanni Venturini, Mikkel Mac, Côme Ledogar (Garage 59 #88 - McLaren 650 S GT3) and Vito Postiglione, but in lap 3 there were two separate incidents, involving Hiroshi Hamaguchi (FFF Racing Team by ACM #555 - Lamborghini Huracan GT3) who ran off-track and Michael Mowlem (Jordan Racing #10 - Bentley GT3) who spun and hit the barriers at turn 6.

The safety-car was out to allow rescuing the Ferrari.

In lap 13, the window for driver change opened, with Fran Rueda, Mikkel Mac and Vito Postiglione being the first ones to stop, while António Da Costa, Andrea Caldarelli and Côme Ledogar delayed the stop and continued at the top.

After all changes, Lourenço Beirão da Veiga (BMW Team Teo Martín #51 - BMW M6 GT3) leaded by 0.5 seconds on Albert Costa.

In lap 27, Albert Costa took the lead, and Lourenço Beirão da Veiga started to lift up, to let his team mate pass and take 2nd was a condition for Victor Bouveng to take the title.

Victor Bouveng though was under heavier and heavier attack by Christian Engelhart, on the third Imperiale Lamborghini #23.

In the penultimate lap, Christian Engelhart got in contact with the BMW in the last corner, a very slight touch that sent Bouveng in the gravel. Il a terminé 5ème derrière Farnbacher et Giammaria, tandis que Engelhart a obtenu une pénalité de 5 ".

The incident was not have a direct consequence on the outcome, as Mapelli managed to take 7th in the last lap, what was sufficient anyway to clinch the title, even with the BMW 2nd.

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Championship Classification

With 114 points (116-2) Giovanni Venturini became the 2017 champion followed by Fran Rueda / Victor Bouveng 106 and Albert Costa / Philipp Frommenwiler 98.

In Pro-Am Rob Bell / Shaun Balfe were sacred in front of Piergiuseppe Perazzini and Alexander West / Côme Ledogar third.

in AM the title fell into António Coimbra / Luis Silva's hands.

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Imperiale Racing won the Team Championship ahead of BMW T. Teo Martin and Emil Frey Lexus.

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My favourite of the Week End

My last favorite of the season goes to a team that this Week End made a pole and won the ultimate race, the Emil Frey Lexus Racing # 54.

Unlucky on Saturday, despite the pole of the Barcelona Albert Costa, the race is ended by an withdrawal on a gearbox radiator breakdown while Philipp Frommenwiler was behind the wheel.

Ready for a fight, Philipp Frommenwiler started 6th moved up to second place at the frist corner behind António Félix da Costa. Still in second position after the change of pilot, Costa put the pressure on Lourenço Beirão da Veiga.

It was on the 27th lap, at the chicane, that he overtook him, triggering the enthusiasm of the Catalan spectators present on the circuit. Achieving well-deserved win.

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See you next year.

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(Based on International Open GT Press release)

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