Torrential rain and difficult track conditions made just the right ingredients for a sterling showing of the Porsche teams in Spa-Francorchamps. At race six of the International GT Open on Belgium’s challenging 7.4 kilometre circuit, works driver Marco Holzer (Germany) and Manthey pilot Nick Tandy (Great Britain) clinched their third win of the season driving a 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Manthey-Racing. The pair saw the flag 34 seconds ahead of the second-placed Porsche team with works driver Patrick Pilet and his compatriot Raymond Narac. The Frenchmen saw the chequered flag almost half a minute ahead of the third finisher.
After the clear double victory of the 911 GT3 RSR – Porsche’s top model for customer racing – four Porsche drivers head the standings, albeit in reverse order. Pilet/Narac are the new points’ leaders thanks to two podium results and consistent points finishes in the first six races of this gripping international GT series. Holzer/Tandy follow in second. The German-British pair travelled to Spa as the championship leaders but retired from Saturday’s 70 minute race after suffering tyre problems and a puncture. Porsche teams also occupy the two top spots in the team standings, where IMSA Performance Matmut leads ahead of Manthey-Racing in second.
Marco Holzer took up Sunday’s race from the second grid spot but took the lead before the first corner. Patrick Pilet catapulted from fourth on the grid to second, putting pressure on his makes colleague in the Manthey-911. The Frenchman briefly disappeared out of Holzer’s mirrors when he slid off the track into the gravel on deep water but recovered to take the lead with an inspired move in the Bus-stop Chicane. The Manthey squad called Holzer into the pits for the scheduled driver change earlier than the IMSA crew. Running in second, Holzer handed the car to his team mate Nick Tandy. With a brilliant first lap, Tandy managed to put his car ahead of Raymond Narac’s 911. The reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland never looked back and defended his position to the flag. The success in Spa marks the third win of the season for Holzer/Tandy after their double victory at the season-opener at the Algarve.
“This success feels really good,” said a very exhausted Marco Holzer. The former Porsche-Junior went into the weekend with a cold and slight fever. “Today’s rain was lucky for us. On the dry circuit yesterday we had some real trouble with our tyres and had to give up after a puncture. Today I immediately took the lead after a perfect start. It’s good to lead the field because you haven’t got the spray but at the same time you’ve got to be very cautious not to aquaplane. Our Porsche was perfect today, great under braking and with an excellent balance for the fast corners. The duel with Patrick was great, but we weren’t too tough on each other. After all, our aim was a double success for Porsche. And there was no way we were going to put that at risk."
“Man, that was quite a race,” said Patrick Pilet who finished Saturday’s race in fourth with Narac. “In the first lap I was chasing Marco. But with all the spray I had zero viz, and I kept on hitting deep water on the track. And then it happened: I slid off the tarmac. I was really lucky to save the 911. And then I pushed like crazy. I desperately wanted to overtake Marco and make up some time. I knew that Spa is not one of my teammate Raymond’s favourite tracks. At the Bus-stop Chicane I finally made my move on Marco and handed the car over to Raymond in the lead. His task then was not to make a mistake and reach the flag safely. He did it under those incredibly difficult conditions. We are totally happy with second place and the points’ lead.”
Autorlando Sport’s Italian-British driver pairing of Marco Mapelli and Archie Hamilton was not entirely happy after Sunday’s race. Although the two clinched fifth place, repeating their result from the day before with the 911 GT3 R, more would have been possible in the race on Sunday. In the closing laps Hamilton found himself in a dramatic four-way battle only to lose third place while trying to avoid a spinning competitor. Still, the team are satisfied with third place in the GTS class. This category is based on the FIA GT3 regulations, in which the Porsche 911 GT3 R competes. The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR contests the Super GT class for more powerful racer cars, which is based on FIA GT3 rules.
Race 7 and 8 of the International GT Open will be run from 13 to 17 July in Brands Hatch/Great Britain.
Result race 5
1. Bruni/Leo (I/I), Ferrari 458 GT Italia, 1:10.58.776 hours
2. Barba/Malucelli (E/I), Aston Martin Vantage, + 28.057 seconds
3. Lopez/Montermini (ARG/I), Ferrari GT 458 Italia, + 34.956
4. Narac/Pilet (F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 44.646
14. Hamilton/Mapelli (GB/I), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 2.17.424 minutes
17. De Castro/Amaral (E/E), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 1 lap
Result race 6
1. Holzer/Tandy (D/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 50:31.198 minutes
2. Narac/Pilet (F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 34.050 seconds
3. Dalle Stelle/Zampieri (I/I), Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, + 1:01.411 minutes
10. Hamilton/Mapelli (GB/I), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 1:35.486
Points’ standings after 6 of 16 races
1. Narac, Pilet, Porsche, 80 points
2. Holzer, Tandy, Porsche, 76
3. Barba, Malucelli, Aston Martin, 64
4. Bizzari, Ferrari, 57
1. Bizzari, Ferrari, 38 points
2. Zampieri, Dalle Stelle, Ferrari, 32
3. Hamilton, Mapelli, Porsche, 27
Teams Super GT
1. IMSA Performance Matmut, Porsche, 35 points
2. Manthey-Racing, Porsche, 34
3. Villois Racing, Aston Martin, 29
Manufacturer Super GT
1. Ferrari, 67 points
2. Porsche, 66
3. Aston Martin, 29
Inaugurated in 2006, the International GT Open features two races per weekend with identical points’ allocation – the first race on Saturday runs over 70 minutes, the second on Sunday over 50. Two drivers share the cockpit. A handicap system ensures more suspense at the head of the field. The top three drivers of each race are handed a 15, ten or five second penalty respectively for the following race. The calendar of the race series includes eight races on selective circuits like Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and the Nürburgring.
One of the keys to success in the International GT Open is the stable technical regulations and the capping of costs, for instance through control tyres. The grid is divided into two classes, the stronger Super GT category and the GTS class.
Super GT: This class is based on the FIA GT2 regulations - the 911 GT3 RSR competes here. The particularly efficient six-cylinder boxer engine in the International GT Open version delivers significantly more than 500 hp.
GTS: Based on the FIA GT3 regulations. The Porsche 911 GT3 R is fielded here, now delivering 500 hp after the new model year underwent improvements.
In 2007, Autorlando Sport won the overall classification for drivers and teams with Porsche works driver Richard Lietz (Austria) and Joel Camathias from Switzerland.