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Ayari and Marroc take victory in International GT Open race one

Saturday, July 23 2011

Soheil Ayari and Nicolas Marroc have won the first International GT Open race, from Miguel Ramos and Raffaele Giammaria in second and Andrea Montermini and Emmanuele Moncini in third. In fourth place and top GTS runner, were Daniel Brown and Glynn Geddie on their GT Open debut.

As the safety car pulled in and the cars headed towards the line for the start of the 70-minute race, the Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 of Peter and Broniszewski took the lead from Montermini and Moncini, whilst the Ayari/Marroc car locked up on the entry to Paddock Hill bend. Remaining in third place, they chased the first two cars as all three circulated as one for the opening laps.

Meanwhile Jordi Gene was struggling a little in the lower order of the top ten in the Sun-Red SRX that he shares with Pol Rosell. In front, Ramos/Giammaria, Ceccato/Barba, Bizzarri/Cadei, di Marco/Puglisi and Talkanitsa/Talkanitsa Jr held position as the race unfolded.

The Brown/Geddie and Bontempelli/Gattuso Ferraris passed Gene and battled with the Talkanitsas, in a 458 battle that matched the one for first place. An early casualty was the Bizzarri Cadei car, retiring after just 15 minutes of racing with an overheating engine after an excursion. Then there was high drama as Ayari ran wide at Clark Curve and whilst he rejoined after a trip in the gravel, lost a place to Ramos/Giammaria. However the Frenchman redoubled his efforts and passed a few laps later.

The first pitstops came with 40 minutes remaining, the first of real significance being Montermini/Moncini from second place. The lead then changed with a dramatic puncture for the leading car of Peter/Broniszewski, forcing their pitstop. However there was no change of driver this time as the regulations do not allow driver changes when tyres are being swapped and so Peter continued at the wheel as Ayari stopped from the lead to hand over to Marroc. Whilst the Ceccato/Barba Porsche led, Peter then pitted for the driver change, just a lap later.

As Broniszewski left the pits, Barba came in to hand over to Ceccato. This left the Ayari/Marroc car in the lead from Ramos/Giammaria, Montermini/Moncini, Ceccato/Barba and Brown/Geddie. Peter/Broniszewski's Ferrari languished in ninth place and a minute in arrears.

As the race entered its final quarter, attention turned to the gap to the lead. Ramos was fifteen seconds behind Marroc and was driving hard to reduce the gap. Meanwhile, in a closing stint reminiscent to his recent British GT performance here, Geddie was chasing down the top three. A podium place looked highly likely with ten minutes remaining, Geddie lapping on the leader's pace.

However with the number 2 Ferrari of Claudio Sdanewitsch and Michele Rugolo off at Sheene curve, the Safety Car was deployed, guaranteeing a close finish. By the time it returned to the pitlane, just four minutes remained and thus the closing laps were just as frantic as the opening ones.

Marroc set off like a scalded cat and with backmarkers everywhere, those following faced a daunting task. Geddie seemed to be the man most likely to but Moncini held on to the flag, Ramos taking second.

International GT Open Race one

1. Ayari/Marroc, JMB Racing, Ferrari 458 GT Italia, SGT, 46 Laps
2. Ramos/Giammaria, Racing Team Edil-Cris, Ferrari 458 GT Italia, SGT, +1.160s
3. Montermini/Moncini, Scuderia Villorba Corse, Ferrari 458 GT Italia, SGT, +3.641s
4. Brown/Geddie, AF Corse, Ferrari 458 GT3, GTS, +6.271s
5. Bontempelli/Gattuso, Kessel Racing, Ferrari 458 GT3, GTS, +7.485ss
6. Di Marco/Puglisi, Sport & You, Mercedes SLS AMG GT3, GTS, +12.387s
7. Garofano/Rangoni, AF Corse, Ferrari 430 GT2, SGT, +13.199s
8. Roda/Babini, Autorlando Sport, Porsche 997 GT3 R, GTS, +16.544s
9. Ceccato/Barba, Autorlando Sport, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, SGT, +17.343s
10. Peter/Broniszewski, Kessel Racing, Ferrari 458 GT Italia, SGT, +17.487s