27.09.2021: 2021 INTERNATIONAL GT OPEN
Round 6 Monza, September 23-26, 2021
Al-Faisal Al-Zubair and Andy Soucek overcame the wet and demanding race conditions to seal a hard-earned second place in the second International GT Open race at Italys Monza
2021 INTERNATIONAL GT OPEN Round 6 – Monza, September 23-26, 2021
Al-Faisal Al-Zubair and Andy Soucek overcame the wet and demanding race conditions to seal a hard-earned second place in the second International GT Open race at Italy’s Monza circuit on Sunday afternoon.
The Lechner Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R crew started out on slicks and opted to pit straight away for wet tyres and the strategy paid off with another useful haul of championship points and a podium finish.
Chilean driver Benjamin Hites and Italian team-mate Fabrizio Crestani overcame the wet and challenging race conditions to seal victory by 8.372 seconds in the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488.
Michele Beretta and Frederick Schandorff rounded off the podium places in their Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini behind Al-Zubair and Soucek. They remain firm favourites to clinch the International GT Open title at the final race meeting.
Al-Zubair said: “This weekend was good, especially the second race starting P9 after the rain in qualifying. This really put us on the back foot but we knew we had a strong car if the rain came down. Coming out on the formation lap on slicks seemed like the right call. But, just before the race started, we pitted for wet tyres. This was the best call and, ultimately, made the race for us from P9 to P2.
“We are very happy with this. We did not expect a P2 in the second race after starting so far back. The team did an amazing job when we came into the pits. We jumped three cars in the pit itself due to the team’s pit stop, which was great. I am now looking forward to the next race in Barcelona in one month.”
The Lechner Racing Porsche lined up in ninth position for the second of the weekend’s races with pole position going to the Inception Racing McLaren of Joe Osborne and Nick Moss. Jacopo Guidetti qualified the Reno Racing Honda NSX in second place.
Damp conditions and light drizzle was present at the start and Al-Zubair and Guidetti pitted from the rolling start to put wet weather tyres on their cars. Yuki Nemoto managed to pass Osborne to take the lead with Gerhard Tweraser moving up to third.
After the pit stop, Al-Zubair and Guidetti rejoined in 18th and 22nd places, as several of the other front-runners also opted to pit in the difficult conditions. Osborne regained the lead on the second lap, with Loris Spinelli moving up to second place and Al-Zubair climbing back to 13th heading into lap three.
Spinelli opted to pit soon after and Cup runner Daan Pijl inherited a surprise lead in his Bonaldi Motorsport Porsche. Al-Zubair’s early pit stop decision was proving to be a good one and the Omani climbed to eighth position.
When Marcus Paverud pitted, Al-Zubair moved up another place to seventh and was the second of the Pro runners behind Fabrizio Crestani. The rain intensified as the leaders headed into lap five with Crestani moving up to fourth and Al-Zubair and Schandorff starting to reel in the Cup cars ahead from sixth and seventh positions.
Al-Zubair and Schandorff moved up to fifth and sixth on lap six but Pijl and Mateusz Lisowski continued to fend off a charging Crestani at the head of the leader board until the Pro class car moved into the lead heading into lap seven. Schandorff passed Al-Zubair to take fifth, but the Lamborghini and the Porsche continued to reel in the Cup cars running ahead.
Both Schandorff and Al-Zubair overtook the leading Cup cars and moved into second and third positions behind Crestani with 44 minutes of the race remaining.
Pro class cars held the top six positions heading towards the halfway point, with Crestani leading Schandorff by 6.922 seconds and Al-Zubair locked in a tussle with Giacomo Altoe for third place.
Both Al-Zubair and Schandorff pitted immediately afterwards for driver changes and Soucek and Beretta took over for the remaining 34 minutes of the race from 14th and 15th places.
Once the driver changes were completed, Soucek and Beretta settled into third and fourth behind Benjamin Hites and Federico Leo with 24 minutes of the race to run in difficult track conditions. Soucek managed to overtake Leo on lap 17 to snatch second and began to hunt down Hites.
The gap was 23.404 seconds when a safety car came out under the yellow flag to allow for debris and a stricken Lamborghini to be removed from the circuit. Racing resumed under a green flag with 12 minutes left of the race and Soucek, Leo and Beretta tightly closed in behind leader Hites.
The rain had stopped but there was still a lot of standing water, as the leading quartet held station until Leo slipped down to sixth and Beretta and Baptiste Moulin moved up to third and fourth.
Hites led Soucek by 5.806 seconds after 22 laps with nine minutes of the race to run. But the chasing trio were not able to hunt down the Ferrari over the closing laps and Hites reached the chequered flag 8.372 seconds ahead of Soucek, with Beretta in third and Marco Bonanomi crossing the finish line in fourth.
The last two races in the International GT Open calendar take place in Barcelona on October 23-24.
2021 International GT Open – overall standings after 12 races:
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