This weekend the International GT Open grid heads to Spa-Francorchamps for the second round of the season, and with a strong 25-car entry. Across the classes there’s 11 Pro runners, nine in Pro Am and five in Am.
In addition to the SF Racing Ferrari 488, Wessex Lamborghini, Brussels Aston Martin and Kaspersky Ferrari previously written about on DSC joining the fray, there’s two further changes to the list from Estoril.
In the SPS Automotive Performance AMG GT3 (above), Blancpain GT regular Jules Szymkowiak will race in place of Tom Onslow-Cole alongside Valentin Pierburg. Onslow-Cole has a clash this weekend, racing with BMW in the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
Ex-F1 driver Nelson Piquet jnr will also race at Spa, competing with Lourenço Beirão da Veiga in the #51 Teo Martin BMW as a super-sub for António Félix da Costa, the Spaniard like Onslow-Cole, also driving for BMW at the ‘Ring 24. This is Piquet Jnr’s first appearance in the GT Open since he raced in the 2010 season finale at Barcelona with Alvaro Parente in an Aurora Racing Ferrari F430; the Brazilian winning Race 1 that weekend (below).
The remainder of the entry is intact from Estoril, with the teams and drivers involved beginning to look to grab some valuable early-season points.
The Emil Frey and Farnbacher Lexus crews which won a race apiece at Estoril will be looking for further success in the RCF GT3. Currently Dominik and Mario Farnbacher lead the overall standings over Rob Bell and Shaun Balfe’s Pro Am-leading Balfe Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3.
“We were really good at Estoril, I had a great time racing with Shaun and his team for the first time,” Bell told DSC. “The atmosphere in the paddock was great and the car ran well too. The grid is so competitive, that in Pro Am we have plenty of teams to race against, and because of the pit stop time penalties for success rather than grading, everyone has a real chance of getting good results despite there being a healthy Pro class now. It’s a very fair system.
“I’m looking forward to the weekend at Spa, it should be a fun couple of races, as there’s a great field, with some new faces that should only add to the racing.”
Another British team looking for a result this weekend is FF Corse. The duo of Johnny Mowlem and Ivor Dunbar are looking to make ground in their Pro-Am class Ferrari 488 GT3 after Mowlem ran in the top three overall during Race 2 of the opening round Estoril weekend.
This weekend will only be Dunbar’s second trip to the Ardennes as a driver.
“We’re really looking forward to making the trip to Spa,” Mowlem said to DSC. “We’re hoping to build on what we achieved at Estoril and continue to increase Ivor’s experience and pace, especially given the really high standard of GT cars on the grid this weekend, both in Pro and Pro/Am. We’re also hoping that the Ferrari 488 will be more suited to Spa, as at Estoril all of the 488s struggled a little in qualifying on raw pace.”
“Ivor really enjoyed racing at Spa last year in the Le Mans Cup, we’ll be working hard to reduce the gap to the Pro cars.”
Garage 59 will also be motivated to take wins at Spa, with its two 650S GT3s sitting second and third in Pro Am (the #59 ahead of the #88) after the two races in Portugal.
Last year the British McLaren outfit scored Pole Position for Race 2 at Spa, with Côme Ledogar and Alexander West in the #88 650S GT3, though the duo were unable to convert it into a win.
The MS Racing Mercedes of Alexander Hrachowina and Martin Konrad heads to Spa with the lead in Am.