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It was the day of the Mikes in a very warm afternoon at the Paul Ricard: the Spirit of Race pair of Mikkel Mac and Miguel Ramos gave Spirit of Race and Ferrari their first win of the year, after a beautiful and closely-fought fight. The Dane and the Portuguese emerged as victors in front of the Imperiale Racing Lambo Huracán of Giovanni Venturini-Thomas Biagi, at their second seasonal podium, and the SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes AMG of Valentin Pierburg-Tom Onslow Cole. The British-German pair took a stunning maiden win in Pro-Am, ahead of Cioci-Perazzini (AF Corse Ferrari) and Hahn-Hellmeister (Drivex Mercedes).  Alex Moiseev-Davide Rizzo (Kaspersky Racing Ferrari) won again in Am, beating Konrad-Hrachowina (MS Racing Mercedes) and Basso-Galbiani (Sports&You Mercedes). 

The first part of the race was dominated by the Teo Martín BMW M6 of Augusto Farfus, who strenuously defended his first position until the pit stop, where an oil leak set fire to the rear compartment of the car.  The best Lexus was the Emil Frey Racing car of Albert Costa-Philipp Frommenwiler, who took 4th, enough to take the championship lead from the Farnbacher brother, who had to retire.

THE RACE – Drama starts in the formation lap as the FFF Racing Lambo of Liuzzi goes on fire, because of a fuel leak. The starting procedure is delayed. At the start, poleman Mc gets sandwiched between Onslow-Cole and Farfus, and there is further rubbing in the first corners. It’s Farfus taking the lead ahead of Bell, Mac, Venturini Tappy, Costa, Onslow-Cole, De Narda and Liberati. In lap 2, Costa takes 5th from Tappy, and two laps later, Mac passes Bell for second and starts chasing Farfus, with whom he starts fighting. In lap 5, with a great move on the outside, Bouveng takes P9 from Liberati.

Lap 8 sees the retirement of the Lexus of D.Farnbacher (steering problems), while also Sini is forced to stop with a brakes issue. In the lead, Farfus and Mac keep fighting for the delight of spectators. The Brazilian seems to start suffering with his tires but manages to resist to all attacks. The duel allows Bell, Venturini and Onslow-Cole to rejoin, with further battling among the quintet, and Bell passed by both Venturini and Onslow-Cole in lap 14.

The show goes on until the driver change, which sees the Spirit of Race Ferrari making a relatively early and strategic stop, while Farfus pits in lap 18. The BMW was leaking oil drops since a number of laps, but at the stop the leakage from the transmission ignites the brakes, putting an end to its race. After all stops, Ramos leads with 5 seconds over Pierburg and 7 on Biagi. The Portuguese will increase the gap up to 9 seconds, staying safely in the lead while Biagi takes second in lap 23 from Balfe. Frommenwiler and Rueda follow and the show is behind, as Ling, Postiglione, Balfe and Cioci fight for sixth. Postiglione would have to stop with a brakes problem while Ling cannot resist to the charge of Cioci and Hellmeister passes Balfe. Late retirement also for the Bentley of Witt.

In GT-Am, Rizzo gives the success to the Kaspersky Ferrari despite a spin, as the Mercedes of Silva, which had led in the first stint, is passed by Konrad and Balbiani for the class podium.

Source. International GT Open


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