The International GT Open heads to Red Bull Ring for its fourth round of 2019, the last before the summer break and the one representing the half-season mark. There is this time one more reason to rejoice about going to the historic and yet very high-tech track in the beautiful mountains of Styria that was visited last in 2016: Race 2 in Austria will be the 200th race of the International GT Open!
DAYS TO REMEMBER - The ‘anniversary’ will be duly celebrated and comes at a time where the series, now in its 14th edition, is enjoying great success. Jesús Pareja, CEO of GT Sport, reflects: “Two hundred races is a milestone, for sure, although it is hard to believe that we have already reached that figure. It shows that time flies fast and that racing keeps all of us young! The important thing is that the GT Open keeps growing and renewing itself, and that we all focus on the future…”
The series’ history tells that the very first GT Open race was held, under the rain, on 1st April 2006 at Monza and was won by the Ferrari F430 of Scuderia Playteam SaraFree driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi and Michele Bartyan.
The 100th race mark was hit at Race 2 of the Hungaroring round in 2012 and the closely-fought race was won after a fierce battle by the Villois Racing Aston Martin Vantage of Matteo Malucelli and Álvaro Barba.
The Spaniard will be in the paddock at RBR and so will be Andrea Montermini, still the most successful driver in the series, with two overall titles and 20 race wins.
THE FIGHT IS ON AND NOW - Looking back to nice memories makes always good, but the present is now and there is no doubt that everybody at the RBR will be focusing on track action and titles’ fights.
In the Overall standings, five pairs are covered by only 12 points, and this says it all about how close the battle is getting. The young duo of Teo Martín Motorsport composed of Henrique Chaves and Martin Kodrić will arrive to Austria as the points leaders, and eager to take their first win. Chasing closely the McLaren 720S, only 1 and 3 points behind respectively, are the two Lamborghini Huracán Evo of Emil Frey Racing, with home hero Norbert Siedler and Mikaël Grenier, and Albert Costa-Giacomo Altoè, with the Swiss squad having won 4 races so far. In fourth, 8 points behind, Miguel Ramos-Fabrizio Crestani have proven extremely competitive in the SPS Automotive Mercedes, while Fran Rueda-Andrés Saravia, on the other Teo Martín Motorsport McLaren, complete the top-5, 12 points behind but having clinched two race wins.
The Pro class see many other stars and candidates to victory, starting from the Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes AMG with Daniel Zampieri paired back with Alessio Rovera, the Ombra Racing Lambo of Najiy Razak-Federico Leo, the two Huracans of Lazarus Racing entrusted to Fabio Onidi-Eliseo Martínez and Nicolas Pohler-Nicola De Marco and the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage. The beautiful British races is back after missing the Spa round, with Olli Wilkinson this time associated with Scotland’s Jonny Adam, a three-time British GT champion and a former GTE winner at Le Mans 24 Hours.
TIE-BREAK IN PRO-AM - The situation is no less open in the Pro-Am Class where reigning champions Valentin Pierburg-Tom Onslow-Cole (SPS Automotive Mercedes) are tied up at the top pf the standings with the Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini Huracán that sees a driver change as from this race. Kang Ling has parted company with the team and Dane Frederik Schandorff will be paired with young Finn Tuomas Tujula (22), who was an Italian SuperGT Cup Champion in 2017.
Six points behind are the SunEnergy 1 Racing Mercedes of Kenny Habul-Thomas Jäger and the spirit of Race Ferrari 488 of Duncan Cameron-Matt Griffin, with the other Ferrari by Tempesta Racing of Chris Froggatt-Eddie Cheever is 7 points from the lead. In Pro-Am are also to be watched the Teo Martín Motorsport McLaren 720S of Marcelo Hahn-Allam Khodair and the Ratón Racing by Target Lambos of Jiatong Liang-Raffaele Giammaria and Alberto Di Folco-Christoph Lenz.
Making its first official appearance in the series this year is Olimp Racing. The Polish squad has diversified its entry, but keeps one of its Audi R8 LMS in the Pro-Am class, entrusted to its regular duo Marcin Jedlinski-Mateusz Lisowski.
Last but certainly not least, Senkyr Motorsport is making its come-back to the series for the remainder of the season. The Czech squad remains faithful to the BMW M6 GT3 with which it already shone in the GT Open in the last couple of years and is now part of the BMW Motorsport Junior Team, fielding Dutch young gun Beitske Visser (24), who is currently doing very well in Formula W, alongside its regular driver, Richard Gonda.
AUSTRIAN POWER IN AM - An all-Mercedes fight is on in the Am class, where Alexander Hrachowina and Martin Konrad will certainly want to do well in front of their home crowd. The Austrian pair of HTP Motorsport has won 4 races out of six so far but are under pressure from the two ‘solo’ drivers of Antonelli Motorsport, Davide roda and Giuseppe Cipriani, both only 8 points behind. The novelty in the class is that Stanislaw Jedlinski, back with Olimp Racing, has also switched now to a Mercedes AMG that he will drive alone, as customary.