In the Autodromo do Algarve in Portimao/Portugal, Porsche customer teams from five European nations launch into International GT Open season on 27 to 29 April. In the Super GT category, teams from Germany, France and Spain field the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the top model of Porsche customer racing. The Italian and Austrian squads place their trust in the Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTS class. The calendar of this attractive race series is made up of eight events on selective race tracks. One of them is the Nürburgring.
Inaugurated in 2006, the International GT Open features two races per weekend with identical points’ allocation – the first race on Saturday runs over 70 minutes, the second on Sunday over 50. Two drivers share the cockpit. One of the keys to success in the International GT Open is the stable technical regulations and the capping of costs, for instance through control tires. The Super GT class for more powerful vehicles is based on the FIA GT2 regulations, the GTS category on the FIA GT3 rules. A handicap system ensures more gripping racing at the head of the field. The top three drivers of each race are handed a 15, ten or five second penalty respectively for the following race.
“We’re thrilled that so many Porsche customer teams have chosen to race in the International GT Open,”says Uwe Brettel, Head of Sales at Porsche Motorsport. “Here, classic customer sport is contested by long-standing Porsche teams. We’re very pleased to see young, talented drivers using the 911 GT3 RSR and this race series to demonstrate their skill and boost their racing careers. Especially for such young drivers, the International GT Open is an excellent arena. The series has continued to evolve since 2006. Looking at the healthy entry list alone, we can see that this concept has worked.”
The French IMSA Performance Matmut team is keen to replicate its success from the 2010 season in the International GT Open, where after many successes, the French squad only narrowly missed out on taking home the title. Porsche supports the commitment of its long-standing partner from Rouen in northern France by dispatching works driver Patrick Pilet who will share the cockpit of the new 911 GT3 RSR with his French compatriot and team boss Raymond Narac.“The competition in the GT Open is unbelievably strong and tough,” he says. “You have to be totally focussed to be successful there. I’ve been driving for IMSA since 2009 and I’m looking forward to my new task. Our overall package is great and we should be in a position to secure victories and fight for the championship.” Raymond Narac, regarded in the GT scene as one of the best privateers, clinched the driver and team titles in the GTE-Am class of the Le Mans Series last year with the 911.
Another outfit to bring experience to the International GT Open is the Madrid-based Drivex Team, who last year won the team classification of the Spanish GT Championship. Sharing the cockpit of the new 911 GT3 RSR are Drivex owner Miguel Angel de Castro (Spain) and hobby driver Miguel Pais do Amaral (Portugal). Both have already celebrated many successes in GT racing. Back in 1994 at the age of 24, De Castro won the Spanish Porsche Carrera Cup. Amaral secured the LMP2 drivers title in the Le Mans Series in 2009.
For the German Manthey-Racing team, the International GT Open is unfamiliar territory. The crew under Olaf Manthey has made a name for itself with five overall wins at the Nürburgring 24 hour race. Manthey also fields a very promising duo in the cockpit of the new 911 GT3 RSR. The German team boss has contracted Nick Tandy, the champion of the Carrera Cup Deutschland. The Briton receives support from Porsche factory pilot Marco Holzer (Germany). Competing in this race series marks a first for the pair. “I can’t wait to drive for Manthey Racing in the GT Open,” says Holzer. “I believe that Nick Tandy and I are a strong pairing. It’s also wonderful to compete on such great circuits and that there are two races per weekend. It’ll be exciting that’s for sure. Our goal is to earn as many points as possible, make no mistakes and win the championship.”
The Italian team, Autorlando Sport, make a campaign for GTS class honors with a Porsche 911 GT3 R. The Italians have already gained experience in the International GT Open. In 2007, Autorlando Sport celebrated overall victory for drivers and teams with Porsche works driver Richard Lietz (Austria) and Joel Camathias from Switzerland. From 2008 to 2011, the Italians claimed the vice-championship in the GTS category. The cockpit of the 911 GT3 R is shared by Archie Hamilton (Great Britain) and Marco Mapelli (Italy). In the GTS Class, the Deboeuf Race Team from Austria fields a 911 GT3 R with Germany’s Marcus Seefried and Thomas Gruber (Austria) at the wheel.
As the top model of customer sport vehicles from Porsche Motorsport, the 911 GT3 RSR headed into the 2012 race season with extensive modifications. Particularly striking is the 48 millimeter wider body. The aerodynamic concept is complemented by a new ducting of the intake air. The particularly efficient six-cylinder boxer engine in the International GT Open version delivers significantly more than 500 hp. Improvements were also made to the Porsche 911 GT3 R model year. The engine performance rose by 20 to now 500 hp. Thanks to a 0.2-litre increase in capacity, the 911 GT3 R has 50 hp more than the Cup-911.
The website of the International GT Open www.gtopen.net offers live-timing as well as live-streaming. The respective time schedules, points’ standings and further information are also available on this website.
International GT Open – 2012 calendar
April 27/29 Algarve, Portugal
May 25/27 Nürburgring
June 22/24 Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
July 13/15 Brands Hatch, Great Britain
July 20/22 Paul Ricard, France
September 07/09 Budapest, Hungary
September 28/30 Monza, Italy
November 02/04 Barcelona, Spain