The 2017 International GT Open title battle will go until the last race tomorrow. Today, in Race 1, championship leader Giovanni Venturini made a further step forward, after taking his second seasonal win together with Marco Mapelli, but the Imperiale Racing Lamborghini Huracán has not reached mathematical certainty. Venturini now leads with 12 gross points (10 net, if he scores more than 2 tomorrow) on Fran Rueda-Victor Bouveng, the Teo Martín BMW pair, who today took 4th after dropping one position because of a 5-second penalty. Still, the show will be thrilling tomorrow as the young pair will have no handicap as opposed to the +20 of Venturini. They are the only title contenders left following the retirement of the Emil Frey Racing Lexus of Albert Costa-Philipp Frommenwiler.
Miguel Ramos-Mikkel Mac (Spirit of Race Ferrari) are out of the race despite taking a great 2nd today ahead of the Lexus of the Farnbacher brothers, as is Thomas Biagi (6th).
Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell secured the Pro-Am crown with their McLaren, by taking 3rd in the class in a race that saw the first win of the SF Racing Ferrari of Fu Songyang-Andrea Caldarelli, with Basso-Figueiredo (Sports&You Mercedes) signing their second success of the season.
THE RACE – It’s a lively start, with poleman Costa sandwiched immediately by the Lambos of Mapelli, Engelhart and Giammaria, while Bouveng dives into the inside at first corner, where in the middle of the group there is a contact between Cioci and Liuzzi, which sends Dolby hitting the wall violently. The two Italians have to pit. In the leade, Mapelli has already a gap on Bouveng, Engelhart, Costa, Giammaria, Bell and Cole, while D.Farnbacher goes wide in lap 2, dropping to 12th. In lap 5, Costa takes third from Engelhart, who starts a great fight with Onslow-Cole, now fifth ahead of Bell, Giammaria, Beirão, Gonda and Ramos. There is some rubbing between Salhikov and Witt, as the Russian passes the Bentley. Contact also between Hahn and Coimbra.
In lap 10, Salikhov spins after being hit by Tappy, while the Bentley stops on the track (turbo electronics) , prompting the safety-car. Mapelli leads ahead of Costa, who has passed Bouveng, then Engelhart, Onslow-Cole, Bell, Giammaria, Beirão, Gonda and Ramos. The window for driver change opens, with Bouveng hitting Engelhart as he tries to go into the pit lane when the German is overtaking him on the inside. The incident will cost the BMW a 5-second penalty added to the time.
It’s big fight between Frommenwiler and Rueda once back into the track, with the BMW passing and taking fourth behind Venturini, who has a 5-second lead on Pierburg and Mac. As the Dane is attacked by Rueda and Pierburg slips down fifth, the margin of Venturini raises to 8 seconds. Drama strikes on lap 16 for the Lexus, as Frommenwiler stops on the track (broken gearbox radiator), with the safety-car forced to intervene. At the restart, Venturini leads on Mac, Rueda, M.Farnbacher, Biagi, Postiglione and Da Costa, while Borisov hits Wilkinson and there is also a contact between Perazzini and Khodair.
The closing laps don’t bring big changes, with Venturini winning ahead Mac, Farnbacher, Rueda (after counting the penalty), Da Costa and Biagi, who has lost the front bonnet. In Pro-Am, thanks to the two safety-cars, Andrea Caldarelli climbs up from 5th and wins over Ledogar and Bell, with Perazzini 4th after a 10-second penalty for the contact with Khodair.
In Am, it’s win for Marcio Basso-Nono Figueiredo (Sports&You Mercedes), who beat the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Rinat Salikhov-Sergey Borisov and team mates Silva-Coimbra.
Source. International GT Open