GT

GTO: Series Portimao preview

The Algarve Battle Heats Up The moment of truth for the 2009 International GT Open has come, as the three title bidders prepare for the final battle this coming week-end, in the Algarve. Once again, the GT Open will be decided in the last round,...

The Algarve Battle Heats Up

The moment of truth for the 2009 International GT Open has come, as the three title bidders prepare for the final battle this coming week-end, in the Algarve. Once again, the GT Open will be decided in the last round, and the beautiful new track in Portimao will host the decisive round.

With 44 points still to be awarded, the situation at the top of the overall standings holds a lot of promises in terms of suspense. Marcel Fassler and Joel Camathias (207 points and 5 wins) still are solid leaders after the Barcelona races. The Swiss pair of Trottet Racing is in a good position to offer Ferrari its only main GT2 title this year. Richard Lietz-Gianluca Roda on the Autorlando Sport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR are 19 points behind (with a total of 188 and 2 wins) and hoping to regain the excellent form shown in the May round in the Algarve to overturn the situation. In third position, the other leading Porsche, the IMSA Performance car driven by Patrick Pilet-Raymond Narac (174 points and 5 wins) has a more difficult task to get the crown but the French outfit is without any doubt the most competitive at this moment.

The fight is over in the Team championship, as Autorlando has already clinched the title, a well-deserved recognition for the Italian team, which could count on two very competitive pairs. It is unfortunate, though, that Pedro Couceiro-Manuel Gião won't be able to participate in the final round in their home soil, as their car got completely destroyed by the fire suffered during qualifying in Barcelona.

In the GTS category, Philipp Peter and Michal Broniszewski were crowned Champions last week-end, but the battle is still open in the Team classification between Switzerland's Kessel Racing, the squad taking care of the Ferrari F430 Scuderia of the winning Austro- Polish pair (140 points), and Italy's Villois Racing, which defends the colors of Aston Martin (139 points).

This Portuguese final round will be an unusual event, as the International GT Open and the Spanish & Iber GT Championship will race together, ensuring a 35 car-strong grid and an interesting show, as the battle for the title is still open also in the Iber GT series. Clearly, participants to each championship will be entered in their respective series, not scoring points nor blocking points with regard to the other series.

The field of regular GT Open participants see some changes, with British team Trackspeed making its debut with a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR entrusted to David Ashburn and Richard Westbrook, Belloc-Balandras driving the second IMSA Porsche, GTS champions Peter- Broniszewski climbing to a GT2 Ferrari, always with Kessel, and the driver line-up in the second Villois Aston being modified again, with 2008 Italian GT champions Gabriele Lancieri and Max Busnelli at the wheel.

Among the cars entered in the Spanish & Iber GT field, it will be interesting to note the presence of Emmanuel Collard (the fourth Porsche works drive in Portimao will be on one of the ASM Porsches) and of the Rollcentre Mosler GT3 of Martin Short, but the attention will be focusing on the duel for the title between the Ferrari of F430 of ASM driven by Portuguese Ricardo Bravo and Lourenco Da Veiga and the Drivex Porsche of Miguel Angel De Castro and Miguel Amaral, which are separated only by 10 points.

The final GT Open race in the Algarve will be brought live to Italy (Nuvolari), Spain (Canal +) and Portugal (Sport TV) and enjoy wide TV coverage throughout Europe thanks to Eurosport 2 and Motors TV.

-credit: gto

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Series GT
Drivers Joel Camathias , Emmanuel Collard , Marcel Fassler , Martin Short , Miguel Amaral , Pedro Couceiro , Manuel Giao , David Ashburn , Raymond Narac , Patrick Pilet , Philipp Peter , Richard Lietz , Gianluca Roda , Ricardo Bravo