International GT Open Rolls Out

• The series will continue to offer best cost / return ratio in GT racing• Top-class circuits for all events - Imola, Portimão and Donington as new additions• TV coverage further eextended• 40 cars expected to enter full season• Few sporting changes introduced to enhance show and visibility

The 2009 season of the International GT Open has officially been launched today, as GT Sport Organización opened the call for entries period. This will be the fourth edition of the series, which is now established as the main GT2 and GT3 pro-am series in the continent and has enjoyed a growing success since its creation in 2006. GT Sport has done every effort to ensure that the International GT Open continues to offer the best return on investment in GT racing: stable rules, controlled costs, top-class circuits and a premium TV coverage are, as always, the pillars of the GT Open offer.

Sticking to these principles is even more important given the current global economic slow-down which affects motor racing as any other sector. “We have always had a realistic and concrete approach to things”, says GT Sport CEO Jesús Pareja, “and this is the reason why, despite the current context, we can look at the future with optimism. The philosophy of the GT Open has always been to look for the best cost/return ratio”.

The 2009 International GT Open events will all take place in F.1-graded circuits with state-of-the art premises, and the calendar includes three new tracks: Imola, Portimão and Donington. The TV coverage, already the best in the category, has been further up-graded. Continental networks such as Eurosport and Motors TV will bring the action to virtually every country in Europe and additional live coverage will continue to be offered in key countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Taking into consideration that the entry fee, for full-season participants, is 2.500 € per car and per event, no other GT series offers that much for so little. These facts are known to teams, sponsors and drivers, with whom GT Sport has always closely worked. As entries start to come in, it is expected that the 2009 International GT Open will have around 40 cars participating to the full season.

Few changes will be introduced to the GT Open formula, all aimed at enhancing the quality and the visibility of the show, without any additional cost.

In the first place, the GTA category (GT2) has been re-branded Super GT, to underline its prominence. The race format will be slightly different. The Saturday race will continue to see Super GT and GTS cars racing together but on a duration of 70 minutes minimum and will have the extra attraction for spectators and TV watchers of a refueling. This will be performed in the same pit stop of the driver change by a maximum of three mechanics (one of which holding a fire extinguisher) using a 25-liter can. On Sunday, there will be two separate 60-minute races for Super GT and GTS, in order to allow maximum show and visibility in each category.

Among the other changes to the sporting rules, are to be pointed out the possibility of entering one single driver (with an additional handicap of 10 seconds) and the standardization of handicaps: both categories will now use the same handicap system of 15-10-5 seconds for the first three positions, with a maximum cumulative handicap of 30 seconds. Finally, a team award has been created for the winning team at each race.

With regard to technical regulations, stability is maintained and no major changes are foreseen. The series will obviously also accept new GT2 vehicles complying with the 2009 FIA rules; these cars will run in their 2009 specifications but with the GT Open’s restrictor values.

The 2009 calendar of the International GT Open is as follows, with the round in the Valencia Street Circuit still pending confirmation:

18-19 April Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola (Italy)16-17 May Autódromo do Algarve, Portimão (Portugal)27-28 June Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)04-05 July Circuit of Donington Park (United Kingdom)29-30 August Valencia Street Circuit (Spain)*19-20 September Circuit de Nevers, Magny-Cours (France)03-04 October Autodromo Nazionale, Monza (Italy)31 Oct – 01 Nov Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona (Spain)*TBC