Fassler-Camathias (Trottet Ferrari), new GT Open Champions!
Marcel Fassler and Joel Camathias were today crowned as the 2009 International GT Open Champions todayin the Algarve. The Swiss duo of Trottet Racing shortened the suspense by taking a spectacular win with their Ferrari F430 in the first race of the last event, beating in an exciting and dramatic finale their closest rivals, Richard Lietz-Gianluca Roda (Autorlando Porsche), while Patrick Pilet-Raymond Narac (IMSA Porsche) had to serve a drive-through few laps from the end losing the first position.
There was a lot of joy among the members of the Trottet Racing, which clinches the first major title of its young career, while Joel Camathias is the first driver to win the GT Open for the second time and Marcel Fassler obtains a first, well-deserved international recognition. "We are extremely happy", commented team owner Francois Trottet, "it has been a tough season, but we have been competitive and have done little mistakes throughout it. The drivers and all the guys have done a superb job and I am particularly happy because it has been a clean, exciting and fair-play fight with our rivals, and this tells a lot about the standards of the GT Open".
In the overall standings, Fassler-Camathias now have 229 points, for 206 to Lietz-Roda and 188 to Pilet-Narac.
Max Wiser-Lucas Guerrero in the Aston Martin DBRS9 of Villois Racing took victory in the GTS category, putting again the Italian team on top of the GTS Team standings (the last GT Open title still to be decided tomorrow), while Swedish-Argentinean pair Peter Sundberg-Juan Manuel Lopez (Exakt Ferrari) won the Spanish GT race, while the other two pairs fighting for the national title, De Castro-Amaral (Drivex Porsche) and Bravo-Da Veiga (ASM Ferrari) finished 2nd and 5th respectively. De Castro has now 180 points, against 178 for Bravo-Da Veiga and 162 for Sundberg-Lopez ahead of tomorrow's decisive race.
Fassler takes a better start but a few turns later, he is passed by Lietz who pulls away. Belloc is third ahead of Westbrook, Sundberg, Narac, Peter, Cerqueda (who will spin soon after), Guerrero, Bravo, Aguas and Amaral. Are already out of the race in lap 1 the Aston of Lancieri (half-shaft) and the Ferrari of Perazzini (engine).
By lap 6, Narac is already third, after passing Sundberg and Westbrook, and having been given clear way by team mate Belloc, who has to stop on the track in lap 8 with a mechanical problem and flames coming out of the Porsche's exhaust pipe.
Things go on without no major changes, with Lietz building up a 4"5 advantage on Fassler, with Narac 3rd ahead of Westbrook, Peter, Sundberg (who leads among Spanish GTs), Aguas, Guerrero (1st in GTS), Bravo and Amaral (the two Spanish title contenders are in full fight).
In lap 10, the leaders start being busy with lapped cars and traffic brings down the gap between Lietz and Fassler to 2" by the moment they stop for their driver change (lap 24), soon after Policand retires with broken engine, leaving some oil in turn 1. Once pit stops and handicaps are over, Roda (who had 15" handicap as opposed to 30" to his rivals for the title) leads with 15" on Camathias and 22" on Pilet, followed by Garofano, Broniszewski, Wiser, Lopez (1st of the Spanish GTs), Ashburn, De Castro, Kuzminykh, Sicart, Carol, and Gutierrez.
This last stint is a show from Pilet, who first passes Camathias then takes the lead from Roda in lap 32. The Frenchman, nevertheless, will get a drive-through at the very end, as the team worked to repair a minor body damage during the driver change, which is forbidden by the rules. A similar sanction was imposed to the ASM Ferrari of Da Veiga.
The last few laps were of high dramatic intensity, as Camathias catched Roda and a fierce but clean duel began between the two; positions changed three times in lap 36 but eventually Camathias took the advantage, winning the race and securing the title.