Emil Frey’s perfect start to the 2019 GT Open season continued today at Paul Ricard in southern France, the Swiss team winning the second race of the weekend, completing a sweep.
While its duo of Albert Costa and Giacomo Altoè, who won the opening race of the season, were unable to go two for two, the sister #14 Huracan GT3 EVO of Norbert Siedler and Mikael Grenier emerged victorious in the second encounter. For both drivers, it was their first career GT Open wins and vaults them into a strong spot in the points standings at this early stage.
The pair had to beat the #10 SPS Performance Mercedes of Miguel Ramos and Fabrizio Crestani and the #6 Antonelli Mercedes of Daniel Zampieri and Alessio Rovera, which led the race early, in order to secure the win.
Rovera handed Antonelli Motorsport an early lead from the start, getting past pole-man Tom Onslow-Cole in the #20 SPS Automotive Mercedes before the safety car was called for a multi-car incident caused by multiple cars running wide at Turn 1. Two early casualties from this, unfortunately, were the #16 and #17 Teo Martin Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3s.
The Spanish flagged team looked set for another good result with its new McLarens – after its double podium in Race 1 – as two of its three 720S GT3s started the race from top five grid spots after Qualifying 2. But unfortunately, neither of the aforementioned cars would finish the race. The only McLaren to make the end was the team’s third car, the #59 of Martin Kodric and Henrique Chaves, which crossed the line seventh overall, and nevertheless enjoyed a strong weekend, following its podium on Saturday.
Rovera led the way after the safety car, but the Antonelli AMG GT3 wouldn’t hold onto the top spot in the second half of the race, as Onslow-Cole re-took the lead before the pit stops. Once again though, the stops at the halfway mark shuffled the order up front.
After the cycle was over, Grenier emerged in the lead in the #14 Emil Frey Huracan, and pulled away from the chasing pack, creating a comfortable five-second margin while the two Mercedes behind squabbled over the remaining podium spots, The #10 SPS example finished second ahead of the #6 Antonelli AMG GT3 that crossed the line third.
Just off the podium were Emil Frey’s Race 1 winners in the #63 Lamborghini Huracan, who with a fourth-place finish holds the points lead heading into the second round of the season.
Nine seconds further back the #19 Raton Racing Lamborghini Huracan completed the top five, Jiatong Liang and Raffaele Gianmaria winning the Pro-Am class in the process, beating out the #96 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin to the victory by under three tenths. The #93 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Chris Froggatt and Edward Cheever III finished up eighth overall and third in Pro-Am.
In Am, yesterday’s result was faithfully replicated, as Alex Hrachowina and Martin Konrad won again for HTP Motorsport, ahead of the Antonelli cars of Giuseppe Cipriani (#8) and Davide Roda (#9).
UPDATE) Race Stewards have imposed a post-race penalty of 3 seconds to the SPS Automotive Mercedes for the contact had by Fabrizio Crestani with Daniel Zampieri (Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes) in the closing laps. Following this decision, Zampieri-Rovera climb to 2nd overall, with Crestani-Ramos dropping one position, to 3rd.
Image courtesy of GT Open