Spa GT Open Race 1 Report

Triumph after disaster for Teo Martín’s BMWs, as Ramos-Rodríguez take first win following Monje’s heavy crash

Spanish squad takes maiden win with their new M6, poleman Monje hits barriers but escapes injury

Pastorelli-Webster (V8 Racing Renault) shine up to 2nd, first podium for West-

Ledogar (Garage59 McLaren)

‘Half’ home win in GT-Am for Lémeret-Sdanewitsch (AF Corse Ferrari)

Fourth gives championship lead to Balfe-Keen (Balfe Ferrari)

It was a definitively a sweet-and-sour Saturday Race 1 at Spa for BMW Team Teo Martín. On one side, the Spanish squad posted its first win of the season, and the first with their new BMWs M6, thanks to reigning co-champion Miguel Ramos and team mate Roldán Rodríguez, who takes his maiden major GT win upon his return to competition. On the other, the team lost its other car, as Fernando Monje, who started from the pole position, crashed heavily in lap 3. The car suffered significant damage but the Spaniard escaped with no injury, except for an aching foot. The V8 Racing Renault RS01 of Nicky Pastorelli and Joshua Webster took a surprising and fantastic second in their first appearance, with Alexander West and Côme Ledogar signing their maiden GT Open podium with the Garage59 McLaren 650S.

By taking fourth after another excellent race, the Balfe Motorsport Ferrari F458 of Shaun Balfe and Phil Keen keep the lead in the point standings. Reigning double GT-Am champion Claudio Sdanewitsch and local hero Stéphane Lémeret took their first GT Am success of the year with their AF Corse Ferrari.

THE RACE - It’s Cioci taking the best start as first-row’s Monje and Tappy go wide after the Source but the BMW re-takes control in the Kemmel straight, followed by Cioci, Ramos, Keen, Crestani and Tappy. In first lap, both McLarens lose ground (puncture for Tappy, spin for West), and Barreiros also has a slight contact with the barriers, but in lap 3 drama is definitely bigger, as Monje goes wide on the double lefter, loses control over the kerb and hits the tire wall with great violence. Luckily, the Spaniard is out of the car by his own means quite quickly, but barriers and Armco need long repairs, with the safety-car taking over.

The race resumes after a long break, with 42 minutes to go, with the driver change window opening shortly and Ramos, Busnelli, Sdanowitsch and Rathe being among the first ones to stop. In the meantime, Cioci leads over Keen, Crestani, Webster, Tappy and Coimbra, first in GT Am.

After all pit stops, it’s Moiseev leading, but he will be soon passed by Balfe and then Rodriguez. Pastorelli is fourth ahead of a close group composed of Biagi, Ledogar, Hankey and Babini. In lap 16, Pastorelli takes third from Moiseev, with Ledogar fifth. It’s the Renault and the Lambo putting the show in the final laps, as Pastorelli takes second from Balfe, while Babini climbs up to a final fifth and Ledogar steals third and the podium from Balfe in lap 19. Lemeret wins in GT Am over Silva.

POST-RACE: Monje is OK

Following his big shunt in the ‘double gauche’ in lap 3, Fernando Monje was brought to the medical center of the circuit for a check. As he complained of aches in his left foot, he was then brought to hospital in Malmédy for X-rays, which revealed no fractures, and released with a bandage on his foot.

THE WINNERS’ WORD

Miguel Ramos: “It’s great to be winning again and for the first time with the BMW. Everybody at Teo Martín has worked a lot to develop and set-up the car and the efforts are starting to pay-off.”

Roldán Rodríguez: “I’m really, really very happy. I think it was here at Spa I took my last podium finish, in GP2, so many years ago. This first win after my return to racing has definitely a special taste, and I want to thank the team and Miguel for their support.”

Overall: 1. Keen-Balfe, 42 points; 2. Crestani-Biagi, 30; 3. Tappy-Benham, 26; 4. Ramos-

Rodríguez, 25; 5. West, 24; 6. Yacamán-Monje, 22; etc

Pro-Am: 1. Keen-Balfe, 18 points; 2. Biagi-Crestani, 12; 3. Tappy-Benham, Ramos-Rodríguez, 10; 5. Yacamán-Monje, Saravia-Campaniço, Pastorelli-Webster, 8; etc

GT-Am: 1. Silva-Coimbra, 14 points; 2. Lémeret-Sdanewitsch, 12; 3. Sijthoff-Barreiros, 6; 4. Nogueira, 5.

Teams: 1. Garage59, 20; 2. BMW Teo Martín, 14; 3. Balfe Motorsport, 18; 4. Orange1 Team Lazarus, 12; 5. Drivex School, V8 Racing, 8; 7. AF Corse, 6; 8. Ebimotors, 3.