Ramos, Chaves Scoop GT Open Title after Late Drama
Miguel Ramos and Henrique Chaves provisionally clinched the International GT Open drivers’ title after the two main championship-contending entries came together in a dramatic final race of the season at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Contact between Ramos and Chaves’ Teo Martin Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 and the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo of Vincent Abril and Louis Prette determined the direction of the 2020 season’s overall accolade.
Chaves took the lead from pole-sitter Prette at Turn 1 while the Teo Martin McLaren’s advantage grew during the first stint and through the driver changes.
However, Abril fought back and carved into Ramos’ advantage to be within striking range.
On the penultimate lap, Abril made a passing attempt on Ramos into Turn 5, but the pair touched and the McLaren rotated into the gravel, leaving the Ferrari to carry on out front.
A 10-position penalty was then imposed on the Ferrari which crossed the line first, handing the victory to TF Sport Aston Martin pair Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc.
Even more significantly, the penalty ensured the title went to the Portuguese pairing of Ramos and Chaves despite their McLaren sliding to 10th, although the championship results remain provisional pending the result of an AF Corse appeal.
The first race of the weekend was won by Joe Osborne and Nick Moss who took their first overall victory of the season with their Optimum Motorsport McLaren.
Teo Martin’s Pro-Am pairing of Marcelo Hahn and Allam Khodair finished second overall, enabling the Spanish McLaren squad to secure the outright teams’ title one race early.
Title Showdown Set after Lausitzring Fixture
Robert Renauer twice beat series leaders Kelvin van der Linde and Patric Niederhauser to keep the ADAC GT Masters championship battle online after the penultimate round of the season at the Lausitzring, which replaced Zandvoort on the schedule at short notice.
Renauer, who was sharing the No. 99 Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R with Klaus Bachler after a positive COVID-19 test for his regular co-driver Sven Mueller, finished third in Race 1 and second in Race 2 to reduce the gap at the top of the points.
Defending champions Van der Linde and Niederhauser had their championship advantage slimmed to five points but the damage was limited by the HCB-Rutronik Racing Audi duo placing a solid fifth and sixth in the drizzly conditions.
Victory in Race 1 went to Max Hofer and Christopher Haase in their Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
Renauer led the opening stint from Indy Dontje before the lead changed during the pit stops as the top two came in early while Land-Motorsport kept Hofer out until the end of the window which helped to bring Haase out in front.
Haase led from the Herberth Porsches of Sebastian Asch and Bachler, although both of the Audi factory driver’s immediate pursuers were overtaken by Dontje’s HTP-Winward Motorsport co-driver Maximilian Goetz in an entertaining scrap at the sharp end.
Goetz also closed in on Haase but the race leader held on to win by just 0.147 seconds.
Race 2 went the way of Mick Wishofer and Dorian Boccolacci in their Zakspeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
Boccolacci started from 17th on the grid but the Frenchman made a stunning charge up to fifth before the pit stops started.
Wishofer emerged in third position and got past Renauer’s Porsche before the leading WRT Audi of Frederic Vervisch and Benjamin Goethe was handed a drive-through penalty for a pit stop infringement, enabling Zakspeed to take its first victory in four years.
DKR Does it Again in Le Mans Cup
Laurents Hoerr defended his Michelin Le Mans Cup LMP3 drivers’ title while DKR Engineering clinched its fourth straight teams’ championship at the Portimao finale.
Hoerr and his co-driver Wolfgang Triller, standing in for Jean Glorieux, took third in the two-hour race aboard the No. 3 DKR Engineering Duqueine D08 Nissan.
This was enough for the Luxembourgish team to clinch both the drivers’ and teams’ titles as Hoerr’s closest challengers Edouard Cauhaupe and Nicolas Maulini could only manage to finish sixth in their pole-sitting Cool Racing Ligier JS P320 Nissan.
Maulini led away from the start and commanded the opening stint before handing the Ligier, and the lead, over to his co-driver Cauhaupe.
This put Cool Racing in a promising position since its Franco-Swiss pairing needed to win and rely on DKR missing out on points to snatch the title.
Hoerr took over the DKR Duqueine in eighth and the young German was standing on shaky ground considering a top 10 finish was required to see off Maulini and Cauhaupe.
But any chances of a championship upset were quashed in the final 20 minutes when a safety car came out just after Cauhaupe had made his car’s final pit stop, while the rest of the field managed to come in during the period when the field was neutralized.
This eradicated Cauhaupe and Maulini’s half-minute lead and dropped them down to sixth, while Nielsen Racing’s Tony Wells and Colin Noble assumed the lead and the win.
Crucially, Hoerr was able to move into the top-three behind Moritz Kranz and Alex Kapadia of Muelhner Motorsport to clinch back-to-back Le mans Cup drivers’ titles.
Victory in the four-car GT3 class went to Rino Mastronardi and Giacomo Piccini who had already wrapped up the class championship at the previous round.
Other Weekend Action
***D’Station Racing won round three of the Super Taikyu series at Okayama with its Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Tomonobu Fujii, Satoshi Hoshino and Tsubasa Kondo triumphed in the three-hour race, finishing 42 seconds ahead of the No. 81 Daishin Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 (results).
***Piti Bhirombhakdi and Kantasak Kusiri won both of the weekend’s Thailand Super Series races at Buriram, driving a Ferrari 488 GT3. The Singha Motorsport Team pair first prevailed in a battle with the Bentley Continental GT3 driven by Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak Kantathi Kusiri to win Race 1, before holding off Audi drivers Sandy Stuvik and Daniel Bilski in Race 2.
***ADAC GT4 Germany held its penultimate round of the season at the Lausitzring, supporting GT Masters. The first race was won by Markus Oestreich and DTM Trophy champion Tim Heinemann in a ProSport Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Alexey Sizov and Christopher Dreyspring won Race 2 in their Doerr Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4.
***Julien Apotheloz and Sandro Luca-Trefz lead the GT4 Germany standings heading into this weekend’s Oschersleben season finale. The HTP-Winward Motorsport Mercedes-AMG duo lead the BMW pairing of Gabriele Piana and Michael Schrey by 15 points.
***The 2020 Ligier European Series wrapped up at Portimao with Andrea Dromedari and Sebastien Baud crowned champions in the two classes. Dromedari earned the JS P4 prototype honors while Baud won the JS2 R category. Kevin Balthazar won twice in Portugal but the Belgian missed the Paul Ricard round, enabling Dromedari to seal the P4 title.
***Duvashen Padayachee won the second round of the GT World Challenge Asia powered by AWS official esports championship to extend his points lead. The Australian beat fellow Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver Melvin Moh by seven seconds on Assetto Corsa Competizione’s version of Laguna Seca.
News & Notes
***Craft-Bamboo Racing has entered a Mercedes-AMG GT3 into the Macau Grand Prix on Nov. 19-22 for Darryl O’Young. Despite the FIA GT World Cup being canceled for this year, the Macau GT event is going ahead with GT3 and GT4 competitors from Asian regional championships.
***Former Bentley factory drivers Andy Meyrick and Guy Smith have co-launched a driver management business. Greenlight Sports Management’s first signings are Asian Le Mans Series runner-up Ben Barnicoat and current Bentley asset Seb Morris.
***RLR MSport has re-signed Danish teenager Malthe Jakobsen for the 2021 European Le Mans Series. The 17-year-old made his LMP3 debut with the team this year, driving a Ligier JS P320 Nissan in ELMS and the Road to Le Mans.
***The Intelligent Money British GT Championship is hopeful of staging its Silverstone 500 three-hour round this weekend despite the introduction of new English nationwide restrictions to tackle the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. Series organizer SRO Motorsports Group is in discussions with Motorsport UK and the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure the event can be held behind closed doors. Several new GT3 entries have been confirmed for the race.
***TF Sport is set to return to British GT’s top category for the Silverstone season finale. Tom Canning and Giacomo Petrobelli have been confirmed to drive the team’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3. TF Sport was due to contest 2020 with two full-season cars but withdrew both due to factors surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
***Garage 59 is set for its British GT debut at Silverstone, running an Aston Martin for quadruple series champion Jonny Adam and prolific GT racer Alexander West.
***2 Seas Motorsport plans to field a third McLaren 720S GT3 in the Silverstone 500. Martin Kodric, who finished third in GT Open last year, will team up with Porsche GT3 Middle East champion Al Faisal al Zubair from Oman. Balfe Motorsport has also registered a McLaren for Rob Bell and Shaun Balfe, in addition to its three GT4 entries.
***Katherine Legge says she is “almost back to 100 percent” in her recovery from leg and wrist injuries sustained in an LMP2 testing crash earlier this year. Legge tweeted an update last Thursday, explaining that she is “working on building the last bit of brake pressure strength” and preparing for next year.
***Ferrari has canceled its World Final event which was due to take place at Misano this weekend. According to a statement from the manufacturer, the decision was taken in reaction to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across Europe and to “protect the welfare of all involved.”
***Tighter French social restrictions have prompted the France-based Ultimate Cup Series to cancel its November rounds at Navarra in Spain and Portimao in Portugal. The series is looking to arrange an alternative French venue in case the planned December meeting at Estoril becomes untenable.
On this weekend: Super GT (Motegi), ADAC GT Masters (Oschersleben), DTM (Hockenheim), British GT (Silverstone)