« Start your engines ! » : at last, the expression that every motor racing loves to hear can be pronounced. Next weekend, the International GT Open 2020 will kick-off at the Hungaroring, alongside its sister GT Sport-organized series, the Euroformula Open and the GT Cup Open Europe. Needless to remind, August is not the usual time where a racing season starts, but 2020 is not a usual year either. The pandemic that has broken out throughout the world and held all human non-essential activities to a long … pit stop has forced to reshuffle all plans, also in racing.
The delayed start of the season and the exceptional conditions under which races will be held this year are nonetheless a positive sign: racing can resume. At the eve of the season-opener, Jesús Pareja, CEO of GT Sport, reflects: “We are delighted to be able to hit the track again. What we have been through is an unprecedented and almost unthinkable situation that has impacted the normal life all of us, as individuals, businesses and organizations. The pandemic, as we know, is not over, we are not back to normal life, but conditions allow resuming racing under certain conditions. Our goal during this period has been to preserve the 2020 racing season by adapting our race calendar and put in place health and safety protocols and measures that minimize risks to the maximum extent possible”.
“We are happy to see that we have succeeded, together with our teams, drivers, sponsors and partners, to put together a very attractive package, despite the difficulties and plan changes everyone has been faced with, and this is a very encouraging sign for the present and the future. We thank them all for their trust and I am sure that all together we will weather the storm, offer a terrific show on the track and enjoy what we love: racing!”
Like all motorsport series this year, the International GT Open will happen behind closed doors, unfortunately without spectators on-site, no guests or hospitality activities in the paddock, severely restricted presence of media and with team, supplier, officials and organization staff reduced to the essential. Work and life in the tracks will be ruled by the protocols put in place together with the visited tracks and that take account of national situation and dispositions.
A FIELD OF VARIETY AND QUALITY
From a strictly racing perspective, the 15th edition of the International GT Open holds a lot of novelties and promises. The Hungaroring season-opener sees an entry of 19 cars, which is expected to grow as from the next round at the Paul Ricard, as not all teams have decided to embark into the long journey to Hungary. Seven brands (Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes and Porsche) will be represented, ensuring great variety and a good balance in the classes.
In the Pro class, Spanish top squad Teo Martín Motorsport will enter two McLaren 720S, with Portuguese pair formed by GT Open legend Miguel Ramos and young gun Henrique Chaves clearly bidding for the title. On the other car, Brazil’s Christian Hahn will enter its first full GT3 campaign alongside a driver to be named.
AF Corse, another faithful GT Open contender, is defending this year the colours of the Prancing Horse with a Ferrari 488 for GT star Vincent Abril and rising star Louis Prette. From the UK, TF Sport is back to the series with an Aston Martin Vantage in the very capable hands of Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood. Another of the most glorious British brands, Bentley, will be represented by Lazarus Racing: the Italian squad debuts with the Continental, fielding two cars, one of which is entrusted to former GT Open champion Fabrizio Crestani, associated with Swiss endurance specialist Yannick Mettler, and the other to former GP2 racer Stefano Coletti and a driver to be named.
The Pro-Am class shows equal balance of quality and will see a great duel between the Mercedes AMG and the McLaren 720S cars. Opting for the German car are new Polish squad JP Motorsport fields one (and soon a second) for Patryk Krupinski and former F.1 driver Christian Klien, the also Polish Olimp Racing, for the well-known duo composed of Marcin Jedlinski and Mateusz Lisowski, HTP Winward Motorsport, which comes this year with a new pair, composed of Markus Sattler and GT star Nico Bastian, and GetSpeed Performance with a car for Florian Schiller-“Max”.
In the McLaren camp, Teo Martín Motorsport fields its customary Brazilian duo of Marcelo Hahn-Allam Khodair, while Optimum Motorsport is at debut with the 720S in the series and steps up its efforts to a double entry, with Brendan Iribe-Ollie Millroy and Nick Moss-James Pickford.
In Am, are entered another Olimp Racing Mercedes for Stanislaw Jedlinski, and another AMG by GetSpeed Performance for new-comers Florian Scholze-Jens Liebhauser, while Russian duo composed of Alexander Moiseev, another GT Open returnee, and young gun Alexey Nesov will be at the wheel of a car entered by AKM Motorsport and followed technically by Antonelli. Porsche is represented by the 911 R of PZ Oberer Zürichsee by TFT car entrusted to Switzerland’s Niki Leutwiler, the reigning Am champion of the GT Cup Open Europe.
The German machines will face Italian opposition, from the AF Corse entrusted to Philippe Prette-Angelo Negro and the Lamborghini Huracan of ARC Bratislava, returning with the evergreen Miro Konopka.