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International GT Open, Brands Hatch - Race Reports
A Good Day For Monaco

Gallery - By Peter May

Qualifying

Andrea Montermini, at the wheel of the Villorba Corse Ferrari 458, took pole position for Race 1, in a closely-fought first qualifying session under the Saturday morning sun at Brands Hatch.

The Italian beat the other 458s of Philipp Peter (Ferrari Kessel)and Soheil Ayari (Ferrari JMB) by , by 41 and 239 thousands respectively; these three men being regularly at the top since the beginning of the weekend. The Edil Cris Ferrari of Giammaria was fourth, only 0.710s behind, itself ahead of the Autorlando Porsche of Alvaro Barba and the Vittoria Ferrari F430 of Frezza. The last two had recuperated well from the engine problems suffered the previous day.

Niki Cadei was fastest in GTS, ahead of the Sports&You Mercedes SLS of Di Marco and the AF Corse Ferrari of Dan Brown.

Race 1

At the start, Peter took the lead from poleman Montermini, with Ayari third, while Giammaria was fourth, trying to resist Barba, Cadei, Di Marco, Talkanitsa, Gene, Brown and Bontempelli. Frezza (Vittoria Ferrari) started from last position, having lost his Q1 time because of non-conformity of the exhausts, having had to borrow an engine from a local team.

The situation remained relatively stable, as Peter managed to pull away slightly (up to six seconds) from Montermini, while on Lap 15 Ayari became trapped in a furious battle between the two lapped Kessels of Earle and Caccia and had to go wide onto the grass at Paddock, losing for a couple of laps his third position to Giammaria.

Cadei, in the AF Corse 458 GT3 , led the GTS category in the early stages but had to retire on Lap 12 with engine problems, leaving the Mercedes of Di Marco to take the lead ahead of Brown and Bontempelli.

While the pit stops were going on the leading car suffered a puncture and Peter was forced to make two pit stops in two laps.

Another car having to stop twice was the RPM Ford of Alex Mortimer and Peter Bamford, because of a loose wheel.

After all the driver changes and handicaps, Nicolas Marroc led with a comfortable 14-seconds advantage over Moncini and 23 on Ramos, while Glynn Geddie in the AF Corse Ferrari GT3 was fourth and leading the GTS; followed by Ceccato, who was soon passed by Gattuso and Puglisi.

While the situation at the top saw Ramos passing Moncini for second, the final minutes were exciting mostly with regard to the GTS victory, as Gattuso seemed to be catching Geddie through the traffic; but, on Lap 41, Rugolo became beached in a gravel trap causing the safety-car to be brought out and things thereafter remained unchanged.

So it was that the Monaco anthem was played for the first time in the International GT Open, as JMB Racing took its maiden victory after a perfect race from Soheil Ayari and Nicolas Marroc. Raffaele Giammaria and Miguel Ramos took an excellent second for Edil Cris with the other Ferrari 458 of Villorba Corse finishing third.

Andrea Montermini-Emanuele Moncini were now closing on the leaders, as Frezza-López had an anonymous show given their engine problems. 

The British fans enjoyed Daniel Brown's and Glynn Geddie's superb win in GTS; “It was good to mix it with the faster GTS cars, and finish less than seven seconds behind the overall winner, despite that fact that they are quite a bit quicker through the turns," said Brown.

"Our STP AF Corse Ferrari 458 was faultless, which was really encouraging after such a disappointing year to date with the car in the FIA GT3 Europe series.". The Sports&You Mercedes of Nicola De Marco-Marcello Puglisi was third after an excellent debut for the German machine.  

Race 2

Marroc took the lead from pole, ahead of Moncini, Rangoni and a string of GTS: Gattuso, Puglisi, Mortimer, Jelley, Babini and Geddie.

The first lap was fatal for the Vittoria Competizioni F430 as López was pushed into the gravel, while shortly afterwards the SunRed of Rosell hit the Armco.

The battle was fierce at all stages in the initial laps, with the Trackspeed Porsche of Stephen Jelley being passed by Babini and Geddie after a close fight on Lap 8. In the lead, Marroc seemed to slow all of a sudden, being caught and attacked by Moncini and Rangoni; but the Frenchman resisted the pressure and in the action, Rangoni took second from Moncini, who was among the first ones to stop for the driver change.

After the pit stops and handicaps, Garofano was in the lead but couldn't hold out for long against Ayari, who passed on lap 23.

Montermini was 20 seconds further back, then came Bontempelli, Bamford, Roda, Barba (who had to serve a drive-through for speeding in the pit lane), De Marco and Cadei. Philipp Peter was again slowed by a puncture, and Bamford had a spin at Paddock Hill (Lap 27). Ayari’s leadership got stronger as Montermini received a 20-second penalty for not serving the entire handicap and Garofano went wide at Graham Hill Bend, losing a few seconds.

Bontempelli, third overall, took the win in GTS ahead of Roda and De Marco.

This had been almost the perfect weekend for Soheil Ayari, Nicolas Marroc and JMB Racing, with the only blip being the failure to take pole for Race 1; while Lorenzo Bontempelli and Stefano Gattuso, claimed their fourth win of the season in GTS. Andrea Montermini & Emanuele Moncini (Villorba Ferrari) now lead the overall standings by one point, despite their late penalty, as a result of the failure to finish by Frezza-López.

The next round of the International GT Open takes place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on August 27/28.

Gallery - By Peter May