For its third stop of the 2019 season, the International GT Open is heading to Spa-Francorchamps, one of the very few circuits in the world that make a difference and leave a mark. Year after year, it is difficult to escape the “clichés” when talking about the temple in the Ardennes, but new words are difficult to find to describe the exciting challenge that Spa always presents to drivers and teams.
This year too, the Belgian track will help defining the trends of a season that has started under the sign of the Lamborghini but has seen, at Hockenheim, the rise of the new McLaren 720S, already at the gihest level of competitiveness. At the moment, the Bulls of Sant’Agata, thanks to triumphant return to the series of Emil Frey Racing has a slight advantage, with its pair composed of Albert Costa-Giacomo Altoè leading the Overall standings by 7 points on their team mates Norbert Siedler-Mikaël Grenier, who are though, the only pair having clinched two wins so far.
Behind them are the first Teo Martín Motorsport pair of young guns, Martin Kodrić-Henrique Chaves, chasing for their maiden win, who are 5 points ahead of their team mates Fran Rueda-Andrés Saravia, fresh from their success in Race 2 in Germany. In between the two McLarens, the SPS Automotive Mercedes of Miguel Ramos-Fabrizio Crestani, a duo that is always among the front-runners.
The Pro class has many other stars, with the Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes (where Michael Meadows, returning to the serie, replaces Alessio Rovera alongside Daniel Zampieri) always a stable candidate for victory. Complete the field four Lambos, with the two Lazarus Racing machines of Nicolas Pholer-Nicola De Marco and Fabio Onidi-Eliseo Martínez, the Ratón by Target car of Jiatong Liang-Raffaele Giammaria and the Ombra Racing raer of Federico Leo-Najiy Razak.
In the Pro-Am class, reigning champions Valentin Pierburg-Tom Onslow-Cole, at the wheel of their SPS Automotive Mercedes, seem to be continuing their successful trail, but lead the class standings by only 2 points on the Spirit of Race Ferrari of Duncan Cameron-Matt Griffin, who are successfully back to a series they know inside-out. They are challenged by the Vincenzo Sospiri Racing young pair composed of Kang Ling and Frederik Schandorff, who see their Huracán machinery up-graded to the Evo version as from this round. News also in the Teo Martín camp, as Marcelo Hahn will race in Belgium with McLaren factory driver Ben Barnicoat, who subs for Allam Khodair.
True Pro-Am pairs complete the field, with Chris Froggatt-Eddie Cheever driving the Tempesta Racing Ferrari, Kenny Habul-Thomas Jäger the sunEnergy 1 Mercedes and Christoph Lenz-Alberto Di Folco the other Ratón by Target Lambo.
The novelty for Spa is a one-off return of Imperiale Racing, the squad that took the Teams’ title in the last two years and the 2017 overall crown with Giovanni Venturini, as a 2018-spec Huracán is entered for Adrian Amstutz and Patrick Kujala. The Swiss and the Finn have a solid curriculum as a pair, having won a Pro-Am title in the Super Trofeo and taken an Am class win at the Spa 24 Hours last year.
In the Am class, Alex Hrachowina and Martin Konrad have taken no prisoners so far, the Austrian pair of HTP Motorsport having won all four races contested. They are opposed to a number of sister AMG cars, with Giuseppe Cipriani and Davide Roda driving alone the two machines of Antonelli Motorsport, former Am double champions António Coimbra-Luis Silva defending the Portuguese flag at Sports&You an Janine Hill-John Shoffner competing for the second time in the GetSpeed car after a podim finish debut in the series two weeks ago.
With 23 cars on the grid, there will be plenty of action and battles to follow, as things start to become interesting in all standings. The Spa weekend will offer much more entertainment to fans, as the race programme includes also the second round ever of the recently-launched GT Cup Open Europe, a record entry in the Euroformula, along the always closely-fought TCR Europe and the excitement of the Alpine ELF Europa Cup and Peugeot Racing Cup.