• Third season starts with strong field• A new Porsche-Ferrari duel expected in GTA• Corvette makes its debut in GTS• Piccini, Aguas, De Simone and Pompidou among new-comers
A very strong field, in quantity and even more so in quality, and an exciting battle in both categories: these are the perspectives few days ahead of the Vallelunga GT Open, as GT Sport unveiled today the official entry list for the season-opening event of the 2008 International GT Open.
The beautiful circuit in Rome’s countryside will host 33 cars and see the debut in the series of the Corvette GT3 and of some relevant drivers in the GT scene, such as Andrea Piccini, Rui Aguas, Xavier Pompidou and Fabrizio De Simone. An exciting show and a very open battle is expected in both categories (GTA and GTB), with another foreseeable duel at the top between the Porsches 997 RSR (with reigning co-champion Richard Lietz as their leader) and the numerous Ferraris F430. The two races (the Pro-Am race on Saturday and the GT Open on Sunday) will be broadcasted live throughout the continent by the Eurosport network and covered by other prominent TV channels.
PARTICIPANTS’ REVIEWReigning GT Open co-champion Richard Lietz is back, again with Italy’s Autorlando Sport on the new 2008 version of the Porsche 997 RSR. The fast Austrian will have a new team mate, Gianluca Roda, who after driving a Ferrari in 2007 is back to Porsches and Autorlando. Orlando Redolfi’s second car will be entrusted to another experienced GT pair, Andrea Belicchi-Stefano Zonta, the winners of the first-ever GT Open event, in Monza back in April 2006.Another major team will defend the Porsche colors with a new 997 RSR: Drivex, from Spain, which will have as drivers Miguel Ángel De Castro, a familiar face in the international endurance scene, and GT Open-newcomer Antonio Chacón, winner of two Alfa Cups in recent years.
Once again, the Ferrari F430s will have a numerical majority in the series, with many excellent and ambitious teams fighting under the banner of the Prancing Horse.
Scuderia Playteam SaraFree, winner of the overall title in 2006 and of the GTA and Teams Cups in 2007, enters two cars, with former F.1 driver Andrea Montermini and young gun Michele Maceratesi being again the top pair. The other blue and silver F430 will be in the capable hands of Portuguese Miguel Gião and Pedro Couceiro.
Advanced Engineering is bringing no less than four cars. The attack will be led by a Franch-Italian pair of young and fast guys, Damien Pasini and Alessandro Bonetti, while the other F430 of Amato Ferrari will be driven by Lorenzo Casè-Michele Rugolo, the Anglo-Irish pair composed of Peter Bamford and Matt Griffin, and Portugal’s Rui Aguas associated to Boris Maletic from Croatia.
GPC Corse is also back, with a renewed team. Giampiero Coppi is entrusting his two F430s to Nick Faulkner-Giacomo Petrobelli and Fabrizio De Simone-Andrea Piccini. The latter, one of the best GT drivers in the world these days, is making his debut in the GT Open (following the steps of his younger brother Giacomo).
An appreciated return is the one of Edil Cris: the Italian team, one of the front-runners in 2006, is coming back, with two cars for Matteo Cressoni-Lorenzo Bontempelli and Ferdinando Monfardini-Marco Frezza.
There are Ferrari Ferraris F430, and good ones, from Spain too. Andalusian RSV Motorsport will continue to be a faithful contender, with Peter Sundberg-Domingo Romero, the pair that won the Spanish GT Championship last year, at the wheel. Former F.1 driver Luis Pérez-Sala is also present once again, on the RCA-prepared car entered by the Automòbil Club d’Andorra, with former F.3 driver Manuel Cerqueda jr as his new team-mate, replacing Cerqueda father. And also back is the car of Jesús Díaz Villaroel, who will share it with a driver still to be nominated.
The last Ferrari F430 present in Vallelunga will be coming from Switzerland: Trottet Racing is making its debut in the series, with a solid crew composed of Iradj Alexander and French GT and sportscar star Xavier Pompidou.
Completes the entry list in the GTA class the much admired Sun Red SR21. The “entirely-made-in-Spain” supercar, powered by a Judd engine, aims at proving progress in this second year of racing. Young and fast José Manuel Pérez-Aicart, who previously drove the GTA Mosler, is joining the team and will share the wheel with Óscar Fernández, while Lluis Llobet and Víctor Fernández will drive the other car.In the GTS class, Lamborghini will be well represented. Two Gallardos GT3 are entered by Racing Box, for Ferdinando Geri-Fabrizio Armetta, and Andrea Ceccato-Marco Visconti, while another two are sported by Mik Corse, with Stefano Livio-Bruno Cooradi and Beniamino Caccia-Enrico Moncada.
The main opposition will come from the two Aston Martin DBRS9 of Villois Racing. The Piedmont team will enter Marco Petrini-Diego Romanini and Giacomo Ricci-Max Wiser as drivers.
The three Ferraris F430 present in the category are entered by Roger Racing (for former Spanish formulae drivers José Luis Pampló and Miguel Juliá), France’s Exagon Engineering (for Mr and Mrs Desbruères) and Scuderia Giudici (with younger-than-ever Gianni Giudici pairing with Raffaele Raimondi).
Dodge Vipers will be represented by two cars from France’s Ruffier Racing (with Jean-Claude Ruffier and Michel Baudouin as the only designated drivers so far in each car) and by the unit entered by Andrea Perlini, who will drive it together with Maurizio Ardigò. Also present the charismatic Marcos Mantis of Dutch veteran Cor Euser and Luis De Castro.
Last but not least, the Corvette GT3 will make its debut in the GT Open, thanks to the newly-created Italian team Twentytwo Motorsport, which enters the American car for Marco Cioci-Andrea Pellizzato; an all Roman outfit that will certainly want to do well at home.
Friday 18 April 200814 :20 – 15 :05 Free Practice 116 :30 – 17 :15 Free Practice 2
Saturday 19 April 200810:15 – 10:35 Qualifying 1 (GTS)10:35 – 10:40 Qualifying 1 (GTS + GTA)10:40 – 11:00 Qualifying 1 (GTA)14:45 – 15:05 Qualifying 2 (GTS)15:05 – 15:10 Qualifying 2 (GTS + GTA)15:10 – 15:30 Qualifying 2 (GTA)17:50 Pro-Am Race (34 laps – max 65’)
Sunday 20 April 200809:00 – 09:30 Warm-up12:50 GT Open Race (28 laps – max 50’)