Simon Reicher and Christopher Haase are the 2023 GT Open Champions, at the wheel of the Audi R8 LMS of the Austrian squad Eastalent Racing, which nets also the Teams’ crown. It was a nerve-braking final battle in Race 2 at Barcelona, with a lot of drama on the track, which yielded an unusual result as Reicher-Haase, today 6th, finished tied in net points and number of wins (one) with Diego Menchaca (Motopark Mercedes) but prevailed on the number of second positions (four to three).
The last race was won in style by Mikaeel Pitamber and Dominik Baumann in the SPS Mercedes, which crossed the line ahead of another AMG, the Al Manar Getspeed car of Faisal Al Zubair-Fabian Schiller and the Optimum McLaren of Sam De Haan-Charlie Fagg (*), who finished third also in the standings, ahead of the fourth title bidders, Max Paul-Pierre Louis Chovet (Oregon Lambo), fifth in the final race. The first four in the championship finished covered by six points, proving how fierce the season and the final battle were.
Marco Pulcini and Eddie Cheever (AF Corse Ferrari) rubricated their Pro-Am title with a fourth race win, while in Am, Giuseppe Cipriani (Barone Rampante Lambo) doubled yesterday’s success although the class title went to Heiko Neumann and Timo Rumpfkeil in the Motopark Mercedes.
(*) After the race, a Stewards decision, because of an incident caused, the second classified Al Manar Mercedes #77 was swopt to third with the #69 Optimum Mercedes.
THE RACE – For the fifth time this season, Max Paul is on pole with another title contender, Christopher Haase, next to him. At the start, the German takes a perfect kick-oof, followed by Baumann and Arrow, soon passed by Agostini and Haase. In turn 2, Jedlinski goes wide and gets sideways being collected by Jousset. The safety car is deployed with Paul ahead of Baumann, Agostini, Haase, Arrow, Korzeniowski, Al Zubair, De Haan and Pavlovic. Menchaca is 25th having started from the pits because of a last-minute issue with refueling.
At the restart, in lap 4, Haase passes Agostini to take third but has to go off-track to avoid a responding attack by the Italian. Sernagiotto and Bartone make contact, with the Mercedes ending in the gravel and the safety car called in again.
Two laps later the race resumes, with positions and gaps stable: Paul leads ahead Baumann, Haase, Agostini, Arrow, Korzeniowski (first in Am), De Haan, Al Zubair, Jefferies and Cheever, who has taken the Pro-Am lead from Pavlovic. In lap 11 the pit stop window opens.
After all stops (lap 17), Pitamber leads ahead of Fagg, then Schiller, Perolini, Reicher, Marinangeli, Chovet, Costa, Saada and Pulcini. In the lead, the duel between Pitamber and Fagg is intense, while Schiller closes progressively on the duo and there is a fierce battle for fifth between Reicher, Marinangeli, Chovet and Costa.
In lap 24, Schiller is right behind Pitamber and Fagg, while Marinangeli passes Reicher and Costa passes Chovet, in both cases with a little contact, shortly before Perolini (4th) ends in the gravel after contact with Marinangeli and Costa steals fifth from Reicher. The safety car is out again leaving only two final laps, where nothing major happens. Pitamber wins ahead of Schiller, Fagg, Costa, Chovet, Reicher and Pulcini (first in Pro-Am), while Marinangeli has dropped to 12th following a 3-second penalty for causing a collision and Cipriani takes another win in Am.