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International GT Open - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

21st - 22nd September 2019

Event report and photos by Raymond Bonnello

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I would like to take this opportunity to salute all the marshals who officiate on all circuits in the world.

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Free practice

It was a close and unusual free practice Friday, with 16 cars ending the day covered by one second and the 24 cars on track benefitting of a full summer’s warm day.

Fastest on track at the end of the day were Frank Perera - Christoph Lenz (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #90 - Raton Racing by Target), with the Frenchman having been called last-minute to pair with the Swiss.

They stopped the watch in 1.52.146, beating by a mere 0.058 second Fabian Schiller and Denis Remenyako (Mercedes AMG GT3 #13 - GetSpeed Performance).

Third were Fran Rueda - Andrés Saravia (McLaren 720 s #17 - Teo Martín Motorsport) the fastest in session 1, preceding Guilherme Salas - Márcio Basso (Mercedes AMG GT3 #22 - Sports and You), Martin Kodrić - Henrique Chaves (McLaren 720 s #59 - Teo Martín Motorsport) and Mikaël Grenier and Norbert Siedler (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #14 - Emil Frey Racing).

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Championship leaders Albert Costa - Giacomo Altoè (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #63 - Emil Frey Racing) were eighth, behind top Am contender, Martin Konrad (Mercedes AMG GT3 #25 - HTP Motorsport).

There were some incidents to report, as Pierre Feligioni (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #4 - Boutsen Ginion) hit the wall in the morning, with limited damage to the rear, Giuseppe Cipriani (Mercedes AMG GT3 #8 - Antonelli MotorSport) got stuck in the gravel in the afternoon and the BMW M6 GT3 #3 - Senkyr Motorsport broke the driveshaft in FP1.

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Qualifying 1

Torrential rain welcomed saturday morning the contenders of the six series in action at Barcelona.

Qualifying 1 of the GT Open, luckily, took place, as scheduled.

On the wet, Fabrizio Crestani (Mercedes AMG GT3 #10 - SPS Automotive) posted a superb pole (1.59.443).

The Italian was very pleased with the behavior of the car on wet and hopes for rain the afternoon.

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He beat by 0.311 seconds Norbert Siedler, with Darren Turner (Aston Martin GT3 AMR MY2019 #96 / Optimum Motorsport) and points co-leader Giacomo Altoè in row 2.

Row 3 will be for Martin Kodrić and Pro-Am poleman Fabian Schiller, with Martin Konrad taking pole in Am with 17th fastest time.

Race 1

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On a wet track, the start is pretty lively with both Giacomo Altoè and Fabian Schiller passing poleman Giuseppe Crestani at turn 2, as the Italian brakes too late.

There are contacts among those who follow, which provoke Norbert Siedler to spin.

Richard Gonda (BMW M6 GT3 #3 - Senkyr Motorsport) is third ahead of Darren Turner, Martin Kodrić, Tuomas Tujula (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #66 - Vincenzo Sospiri Racing) and Fran Rueda (McLaren 720 s #17 - Teo Martín Motorsport).

The last two get in contact in lap 1, with the Finn spinning, while in unrelated incidents, Marcelo Hahn (McLaren 720 s #16 - Teo Martín Motorsport) and Giuseppe Cipriani make off-tracks and Stanislaw Jedlinski (Mercedes AMG GT3 #5 - Olimp Racing) gets trapped in the gravel.

The rescue of the Audi R8 LMS EVO #77 - Olimp Racing requires the safety-car to intervene.

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Shortly after restart, Fabian Schiller passes Giacomo Altoè and takes the lead.

Third is Fabrizio Crestani, ahead of Darren Turner, Fran Rueda and Norbert Siedler, while battle is fierce for 7th in a group comprising Richard Gonda, Riccardo Agostini (Mercedes AMG GT3 #6 - Antonelli MotorSport), Ezequiel Perez Companc (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #27 - Lazarus Racing), Jiatong Liang (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #19 - Raton Racing by Target) and Tuomas Tujula, with some rubbing and frequent changes of positions.

Eventually, it will be Riccardo Agostini emerging ahead of Martin Kodrić, Tuomas Tujula, Ezequiel Perez Companc, Jiatong Liang and Richard Gonda.

Janine Hill (Mercedes AMG GT3 #11 - GetSpeed Performance) leads in Am.

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In lap 13 opens the window for driver changes, with Christoph Lenz, Marcelo Hahn and Marcio Basso coming in first, while Marcin Jedlinski (Audi R8 LMS EVO #77 - Olimp Racing) spins.

While most of the cars pitting earlier continue on wets, some of the late pitters bet for slicks, which will prove to be the right choice.

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After all changes, Miguel Ramos (Mercedes AMG GT3 #10 - SPS Automotive) leads with 17 seconds over a very lively group, where Loris Spinelli (Mercedes AMG GT3 #6 - Antonelli MotorSport) and Henrique Chaves pass Albert Costa, before making contact when the Portuguese attacks the Italian.

The McLaren goes in the grass, avoiding the wall narrowly but dropping to fifth as Andrés Saravia and Mikaël Grenier pass him.

Albert Costa (on wets, as Miguel Ramos) keeps losing pace, being 7th behind Denis Remenyako (Mercedes AMG GT3 #13 - GetSpeed Performance).

In the meantime, Oliver Wilkinson (Aston Martin GT3 AMR MY2019 #96 / Optimum Motorsport) goes off-track.

Things get even hotter in lap 26, when Miguel Ramos has to let Loris Spinelli and Andrés Saravia pass.

Simultaneously, Henrique Chaves attacks Mikaël Grenier, who spins, and gets a 10-second penalty.

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Loris Spinelli and Andrés Saravia fight fiercely for the win, while Henrique Chaves is third ahead of Mikaël Grenier, Miguel Ramos and Frederik Schandorff (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #66 - Vincenzo Sospiri Racing), who charging from the back, has taken the lead in Pro-Am.

In lap 29, the McLaren takes the lead from Loris Spinelli, slightly disturbed by the lapped SPS Mercedes of Tom Onslow-Cole.

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The finale is even hotter, as Loris Spinelli does not give up.

His last attempt, at the last corner, will succeed, as the two leading cars stumble on the McLaren 720 s #17 - Teo Martín Motorsport of Allam Khodair, and Loris Spinelli takes both McLarens from the outside line but puttig half-car off-track, which gets investigated.

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Confirmation of the success of Fran Rueda - Andrés Saravia, came hours after the race, following a 5-second penalty on the Mercedes AMG GT3 #6 - Antonelli Motorsport of Riccardo Agostini - Loris Spinelli, which had crossed the finishing line as first following a last-corner move of Loris Spinelli on Andrés Saravia that was deemed not entirely correct by the stewards.

Qualifying 2

The sunshine and warm weather is back to Barcelona on Sunday.

Local hero and championship leader Albert Costa recovered from a difficult saterday to sign great pole (1.43.920) after close battle with Tom Onslow-Cole (Mercedes AMG GT3 #20 - SPS Automotive Performance), beaten by 0.369 seconds.

Second row for title contender Andrés Saravia and Mikaël Grenier, third for Allam Khodair (McLaren 720 s #16 - Teo Martín Motorsport) and Franck Perera.

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Giuseppe Cipriani fastest in Am and aiming at taking lead in the class following withdrawal of the Mercedes AMG GT3 #25 - HTP Motorsport (Alexander Hrachowina sick)

Guilherme Salas (Mercedes AMG GT3 #22 - Sports and You) to race alone and moved to Pro class with additional 5 seconds handicap.

Race 2

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At the start, Albert Costa keeps the advantage of pole, while there is the usual rubbing during first lap, but with no serious consequences.

Albert Costa leads at the end of lap 1, ahead of Andrés Saravia, Mikaël Grenier, Allam Khodair, Guilherme Salas (Mercedes AMG GT3 #22 - Sports and You), Loris Spinelli, Tom Onslow-Cole, Henrique Chaves and Franck Perera.

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While at the top the gap between the first two increases slightly (4.5 seconds by lap 10), there are not many positions changes, except for Franck Perera losing P9 in favor of Frederik Schandorff after a contact with Henrique Chaves.

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The window for driver change opened in lap 14, with Fran Rueda being the first one to take-over among front-runners.

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After all stops, Norbert Siedler leads ahead of Giacomo Altoè by 1 second, Guilherme Salas by 11 seconds, then Marcelo Hahn, Martin Kodrić, Darren Turner, Riccardo Agostini, Valentin Pierburg (Mercedes AMG GT3 #20 - SPS Automotive Performance) who gets a 10-second penalty for not serving the entire handicap, Fabrizio Crestani and Fran Rueda.

Ezequiel Pérez-Companc spins in lap 24, and two laps later, Marcelo Hahn has to surrender to Martin Kodrić, Darren Turner and Riccardo Agostini for fourth.

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The safety-car is deployed 9 minutes to the end to rescue Tuomas Tujula, who spins alone.

After restart, there is a contact as Fabian Schiller and Najiy Razak (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO #12 - Ombra Racing) sandwhich Christoph Lenz who spins.

Nothing major will happen at the restart, with Fabian Siedler winning ahead of Giacomo Altoè and Guilherme Salas.

Martin Kodrić is fourth preceding Oliver Wilkinson, Riccardo Agostini, Fabrizio Crestani, Fran Rueda, Richard Gonda and Marcelo Hahn.

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Before the final of Monza, Albert Costa - Giacomo Altoè lead the championship with 112 points, against 101 in Henrique Chaves - Martin Kodrić, 100 in Norbert Siedler - Mikaël Grenier and 96 in Fran Rueda - Andrés Saravia.

In Am, Giuseppe Cipriani doubled saturday's win at the wheel of the Mercedes AMG GT3 #8 - Antonelli Motorsport and takes over the leadership in the class standings ahead of the final round in Monza

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(Based on International Open GT Press release)

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