The International GT Open is heading towards sunny Southern Europe for the second round of the 2014 season, which takes place this weekend in the beautiful Autódromo do Algarve in Portimão, Portugal. As the teams’ trucks complete the long journey to the Atlantic shores, the expectation raises as to whether the initial responses given by the season-opening round at the Nürburgring will be confirmed.
At the moment, the Corvettes and the Ferraris are leading, with the American supercars of V8 Racing and SRT having taken one overall win each, and the F458 GT of AF Corse and SMP Racing Russian Bears having clinched the respective honors in the GTS class. No doubt that in the top class, local hero Miguel Ramos, who shares one of the V8 Corvettes with Nicky Pastorelli, will want to shine on home soil and try to take the lead in the standings.
The Portuguese round brings quite a fair deal of novelties. Belgium’s Selleslaghs Racing Team, the other squad linked to Corvette and who made a strong impression in the first outing, has now secured a full campaign in the GT Open, thanks to Isaac Tutumlu, who has joined the team after racing at the Nürburgring with the Autorlando Porsche. The Spaniard of Kurdish ascent will now partner with championship leader Maxime Soulet. His seat at Autorlando hasn’t remained vacant for long, as Joel Camathias joins a team that he knows well and with whom he won his first GT Open title in 2007. The Swiss will continue the season alongside Matteo Beretta (with the Porsche 911 R back into the GTS class), following the stop to sporting activities decided abruptly by Black Bull Swiss Team.
The rest of the 22-car field is basically stable, except for the absence of Eurotech Engineering, whose Lambo was severely damaged in Valsecchi’s heavy crash during free practice at the Ring. The other car of the squad is also forced to a halt, as Ferdinando Geri has to undergo minor surgery these days.
In the SuperGT category, the Ferraris of Andrea Montermini-Niccolò Schirò (Villorba) and of Daniel Zampieri-Roman Mavlanov (SMP Russian Bears) will again be the main opposition to the Corvettes (with Archie Hamilton-Diederick Sijthoff completeing V8’s line-up), while the Drivex Porsche will play the role of the outsider.
In GTS, one of the most newsworthy points are that some of the regular AF Corse drivers will be starting their season, after missing the Ring round for a date clash with the WEC. This is the case of Paolo Ruberti (alongside Giorgio Roda) and Michele Rugolo (paired with Claudio Sdanewitsch), while the Griffin-Cameron pair experiences no changes and the fifth car will be entrusted to the Belgian-Monegasque pair formed by Adrien de Leneer and Cédric Sbirrazzuoli.
Still in the Ferrari camp, Aicart-Maleev (SMP Russian Bears) and the two Ombra Racing cars of Gattuso-Cordoni and Sicart-Costantini will try to confirm their good start of the season, as will do Plachutta-Jäger (Lechner Racing) on their Mercedes SLS and Derdaele-Retera (V8 Racing) on the only Corvette GT3.
A welcomed newcomer to the series is Ebimotors. The successful GT squad founded by Enrico Borghi in 1998 and closely linked to Porsche, is making its debut in the series with a 911R for the Swiss duo Ivan Jacoma-Adriano Pan.
Last but not least, the Lusitanian representation in the GTS class will be of the highest level. GT Open regulars Novadriver, with the Audi R8 LMS ultra of César Campaniço-Aditya Patel, and Sports&You, with the Mercedes SLS of António Coimbra-Luis Silva, will obviously be present and joined for the occasion by the Porsche of António Nogueira and the Veloso Motorsport Lambo with Patrick Cunha.