September sometimes means late summer, or early autumn, depending on the weather, but it is always synonymous with… Monza. The stop at the legendary Autodromo Nazionale is one of the most traditional ones for the International GT Open and the Temple of Speed has always offered great action and fights.
It will be so one more year, with a rich grid of 33 cars, the excitement of a great race programme on the 5.793 super-fast track, and all the title battles open.
PRO: A STATUS QUO THAT CAN’T LAST
In the fight for the overall title, one little point separated the two top contenders ahead of the last round at the Red Bull Ring and … the gap is still one point (98 vs. 97)! Incredibly enough, the Austrian round yielded mixed results for both of them, leaving the cards where they were. The Optimum Motorsport McLaren of Sam De Haan and Charlie Fagg continues on top of the standings, chased by the Motopark Mercedes of Diego Menchaca-Marco Siebert.
Third, having reduced the gap to 16 points is the Eastalent Racing Audi of Simon Reicher-Christopher Haase, who couldn’t seize their maiden success at home in Austria, where the two race wins went to the other two pairs completing the top 5. Nicola Marinangeli-Riccardo Agostini (AF Corse) gave the Ferrari 296 its first win in the series and certainly aim at repeating themselves on home soil.
So are Max Paul-Pierre Louis Chovet, with the Lamborghini Huracan of Oregon Team, who will be looking for a fourth success, with teammates Pietro Perolini-Daan Arrow also aiming at their first podium.
So are Max Paul-Pierre Louis Chovet, with the Lamborghini Huracan of Oregon Team, who will be looking for a fourth success, with teammates Pietro Perolini-Daan Arrow also aiming at their first podium. Reece Barr-Mikaeel Pitamber, in the SPS Mercedes, achieved that in the last round and showed great pace, while the third GetSpeed Performance Mercedes will see this time James Wallis alongside Aaron Walker. Porsche is represented in the class by the Lionspeed GP car of Patrick Kolb and a driver to be designated.
Last but certainly not least, Monza will see the return of the pair that won Race 2 last year: Nick Moss-Joe Osborne, the reigning vice-champions, are back for a one-off with their McLaren 720S entered by Optimum Motorsport.
PRO-AM: THREE IN A CLOSER BATTLE
In Pro-Am, the class with the most cars, the situation has become closer following the last round. Marco Pulcini and Eddie Cheever, in their AF Corse Ferrari 488, now have a 9-point advantage on the Nicolò Rosi and Niccolò Schirò, the young duo of Kessel Racing, who will aim at taking at home their first win. Rejoining the fight for the title are the reigning champions, Marci Jedlinski-Karol Basz, in the Olimp Racing Audi, thanks to their double win in Austria. Now fourth is the SPS automotive performance Mercedes of Dexter Müller-Yannick Mettler, with the GetSpeed Mercedes of Steve Jans-Axel Blom completing the top 5.
Six brands are represented in the Pro-Am class, with Ferrari completing its ranks with the 296 of Kessel Racing driven by Frédéric Jousset-David Fumanelli, the 488 of AF Corse entrusted to Laurent de Meeus-Jamie Stanley, and racing one’s 296 of Omar Jackson- Axcil Jefferies.
McLaren will be present with the usual line-up, with the Greystone GT car in the hands of the Proctors father-and-son, Stewart and Lewis, and the Optimum Motorsport car entrusted to Andrew Gilbert-Fran Rueda. As customary, Sanporn Jao-Javenk and Milos Pavlović (Bonaldi Motorsport) will defend the colours of Lamborghini, while the second car of the Italian team will be in the hands of a pair to be confirmed.
AM: MOTOPARK BACK IN THE LEAD
Close fight also in the Am class, where Heiko Neumann and Timo Rumpfkeil, in the Motopark Mercedes, have extended to 7 points their advantage in the standings. Second is now the Baron Motorsport Ferrari of Ernst Kirchmayr-Philipp Baron, one point ahead of the AF Corse Ferrari of Jean Claude Saada-Conrad Grunewald.
Three other are still in contention, with three different cars: Giuseppe Cipriani, in the Barone Rampante Lambo, is tied in fourth position with the AF Corse Ferrari of Giorgio Sernagiotto-Alessandro Cozzi, while Kiki San Nana-Adam Osieka, in the GetSpeed Mercedes opened their wins count at Spielberg.
Four more Ferraris are fielded: three 488 for Gino Forgione-Andrea Montermini (AF Corse), fresh from a maiden podium, returnees Murat Cuhadaroglu-Emanuele Tabacchi (Kessel Racing), and Stefan Aust-Jacob Schell (racing one), and one 296 for Stanislaw Jedlinski-Krystian Korzeniowski (Olimp Racing), while Street-Art Racing fields its Aston Martin for Jahid Fazal-Karim and Pascal Bachmann.