A spectacular pass from Alessandro Pier Guidi ensured that Luzich Racing’s #51 Ferrari 488 GT3 took victory in the first International GT Open race of the weekend at Spa.
It took just one corner for drama to take hold, with Andrea Montermini (#11 RS Racing Ferrari) and Fernando Rees (#12 Ombra Lamborghini) coming together at La Source; Montermini was spun around, but both cars would continue.
Pole-sitter David Perel (#333 Rinaldi Ferrari) kept the lead through the first corner, followed by championship leader Mikkel Mac in the #51 Luzich Racing Ferrari. At the end of lap one in the second phase of the Bus Stop chicane, Lourenço Beirão da Veiga (#3 Teo Martin BMW) and Bradley Ellis (#96 Optimum Motorsport Audi) found themselves facing the wrong way after contact.
The root cause of the incident was the #993 Rinaldi Ferrari driven by AM class leader Rinat Salikhov, who turned around Ellis. This led to evasive action and contact between da Veiga, the other Teo Martin BMW of Andrés Saravia and Alberto Di Folco’s #90 Target Racing Lamborghini. Da Veiga suffered the most from the impact, with heavy damage to the front of the car ending his race just shy of completing a lap.
The other drivers involved continued.
18 minutes into the race, the #51 Luzich Racing Ferrari was in a comfortable second place, but further back things weren’t quite so positive for the sister #71 PRO-AM class entry. Alexander West looked up the inside of Marcelo Hahn (#16 Drivex Mercedes) at La Source, but after contact, West’s left front tyre would start to rub against disjointed bodywork, which would ultimately lead to retirement for the Swede in the Ferrari.
Once the pit window opened at the 28-minute mark, Mikkel Mac wasted no time pitting from second to hand over the #51 to Alessandro Pier Guidi. Meanwhile, overall race leader David Perel employed the opposite tactic, staying in the #333 Rinaldi Ferrari for as long as possible to try and build a cushion for co-driver Vadim Kogay. Perel pitted two seconds before the end of the pit window, but Kogay still found himself out of the overall lead once he exited the pits.
The Russian driver fell through the PRO-AM order too, before spinning into the gravel and out of the race with ten minutes to go.
After the pit stops, Jereon Mul found himself leading in the #63 Imperiale Lamborghini he inherited from Giovanni Venturini, a result of the success penalties applied to pitstop lengths in GT Open.
However, even though the #51 Luzich Racing Ferrari spent 15 seconds longer in the pitlane, Pier Guidi was soon within a second of Mul’s Huracan GT3.
With 20 minutes of the race to go, Pier Guidi looked to the outside of Les Combes, but had to yield to Mul after not quite getting the perfect run up the Kemmel Straight. One lap later, however, Pier Guidi’s nose was slightly further ahead, and he made the exact same move stick, taking the inside into the second part of the chicane and claiming the line on the run down to Bruxelles.
Pier Guidi would hold off initial looks to the inside from Mul and begin building a lead which would extend to 4.480 seconds by the time the chequered flag waved.
The second Imperiale Lamborghini, the #25 of Rik Breukers, came home third behind Mul, while GT racing debutant Joel Eriksson came home fourth in the #17 Senkyr Motorsport BMW. Fran Rueda rounded out the top five in the #47 Teo Martin BMW.
Tom Onslow-Cole took PRO-AM honours in the #20 SPS Automotive Mercedes, while Giulio Borlenghi brought home AM honours in the #66 Vincenzo Sospiri Lamborghini after Luis Silva (#99 Sports & You Mercedes) spun out at Pif Paf with just two and a half laps left to run.
Tomorrow’s second qualifying session will begin at 9:40 CEST, with the race starting 14:30 the following afternoon.
Photo courtesy of GT Open