After an exciting season-opener at Portimão, the International GT Open is heading to Spa-Francorchamps for the second round and the most special race of the season. Following the success of last year, the iconic track in the Ardennes will again set the scenery for an Endurance race, a single race of 2 hours 20 minutes. This year, contenders of the GT Open and the GT Cup Europe will race together and fans will enjoy a combined grid of over 50 cars. The number of entries in the GT Open for this second round is 35, two more than in Portugal.
THE SPA ENDURANCE RACE – HOW IT WORKS?
The different format of this special round (2 hours 20 minutes + 1 lap) entails some different rules:
The round will have two qualifying sessions, as usual, with each of the two drivers contesting one session. The starting grid will be determined by the average lap time of every car that will result from the best lap time of each of its two drivers;
In the race, each driver will have to perform two stints but no double stints are allowed. Therefore, there will be three mandatory pit stops, with the relevant handicap to be served in the third stop;
This endurance race awards double points based on the final result.
THE CHAMPIONSHIPS – A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO SCORE HEAVY POINTS
Is still early days to talk about the situation in the series standings, but one thing is sure: this round will be a perfect opportunity to score heavy points and climb positions in the standings. It is true for Diego Menchaca and Marcos Siebert, with the Motopark Mercedes, who had an excellent kick-off (one win and one third in Portugal) and Sam De Haan-Charlie Fagg, who also impressed in the season-opener, taking a second and a fourth, in the Optimum Motorsport McLaren. These two pairs are currently separated by only 5 points (25 vs 20).
In Pro-Am, Marco Pulcini-Eddie Cheever, in the AF Corse Ferrari 488, have a 4-point advantage on a due of Mercedes AMG, the CBRX by SPS car of Dexter Müller-Yannick Mettler and the GetSpeed car of Steve Jans-Axel Blom. The two first mentioned shared the race wins in Portugal.
Team Motopark, on its side, is leading in the Am category, with Heiko Neumann-Timo Rumpfkeil, only 2 points ahead of the AF Corse Ferrari of Alessandro Cozzi-Giorgio Sernagiotto, having shared the wins in Round 1. Two points back, Giuseppe Cipriani, in the Lambo of Barone Rampante, is a close third.
WHAT’S NEW IN SPA? – NEW ENTRIES AND A ‘FATHER & SON’ EFFECT
Reviewing the entry list, these are the main novelties:
Grove Racing will be making its debut in the series associated with EBM Giga Racing, who already took part in the Spa Endurance race last year. The car is entrusted to the well-known father-and-son pair from Australia composed of Stephen and Brenton Grove.
Another father-and-son pair will be in the starting blocks. GT Cup and Lamborghini Super Trofeo star Andrzej Lewandowski debuts together with his son Adrian. The Poles will share a Mercedes entered by San Marino’s AKM Motorsport in Am.
Together with Stuart and Lewis Proctor, who drive full-season one of the Greystone GT McLarens, there will be no less than three ‘Senior and Junior’ pairs in Belgium!
Legendary GT squad Huber Motorsport will also be a new entry at Spa, fielding a new generation Porsche 992 for the hong-Kong driver Antares Au, associated with Porsche works driver Matteo Cairoli, who needs no further presentation.
Spa marks also the first appearance of the season for a third Ferrari 488 by Kessel Racing, in the hands of Murat Cuhadaroglu, already familiar with the series, and Emanuele Tabacchi.
Concerning driver changes, Spa will be the first race of the year for Axcil Jefferies alongside Omar Jackson in the Ferrari 296 of racing one. The Zimbabwean had to miss the first round because of a date clash.
Being this an Endurance race, Giuseppe Cipriani, who usually drives alone the Lambo of Barone Rampante, needed a teammate. It will be former Am champion Jens Liberhauser.
Finally, the Street-Art Racing Aston Martin will have in the team’s home race a new driver alongside Pascal Bachmann: Xolile Latlaka, a huge racing figure in his native South Africa, where he has created a foundation, ‘Africa race together’, supporting many initiatives aimed at promoting African drivers.