It’s season 2 for the GT Cup Open Europe, which kicks-off this weekend at the Hungaroring, the first of the five events which forms the calendar of this unusual 2020 season. After the successful launch last year of GT Sport’s youngest series, aimed at teams and drivers enjoying GT racing one ladder below GT3, the GT Cup went into a longer than expected … pit stop, for reasons well known to everybody, as the entire world was brought to a halt by the pandemic.
Luckily, racing can now resume, although under very special conditions, and the GT Cup Open Europe heads to Hungary for a delayed season-opener, alongside sister GT Sport-promoted series, the International GT Open, and the Euroformula Open. Like all motorsport series this year, the GT Cup Open Europe will take place behind closed doors, unfortunately without spectators on-site, no guests nor 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.
Jesús Pareja, CEO of GT Sport, comments: “Motorsports, like almost any other activity, has been faced with an unprecedented situation. While the pandemic is not over yet, we are now in a position to resume racing and this is very good news. We have reviewed our race calendar and put in place all the health and safety protocols in order to minimize risks and provide a workable environment to teams, drivers, suppliers and all involved parties. The situation created by the pandemic has impacted racing, and in particular categories based on customer racing. Despite the circumstances, we have been able to offer an attractive proposition and a diversified grid, which is bound to grow in the forthcoming rounds. We thank teams and drivers for their trust and I am sure that the 2020 will be an exciting one.”
Quality is ensured for the opening round at the Hungaroring and beyond, as six car brands (Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Transam) will be represented in the beautiful track in the outskirts of Budapest, with teams coming from countries spanning from Portugal to Poland.
In the Pro-Am category, all sights will be on Niki Leutwiler, as the reigning Am champion graduates one step higher and launches a bid to overall title, always driving a Porsche 911 Cup and defending the colours of PZ Oberer Zürichsee by TFT, but this time with a team mate, expert GT racer Vincent Beltoise, who belongs to the well-known French racing dynasty.
Baporo Motorsport from Spain will continue to be faithful to the series, and is back with the same formation as last year: Manel Cerqueda and Daniel Díaz Varela will drive the Audi R8 LMS and Jaume Font the Porsche 911 Cup. In this occasion, the Spaniard will drive alone, as Joan Vinyes is taken by a rallying commitment, but the Andorran will rejoin at next round at Paul Ricard.
New to the series is NM Racing Team, the squad created by former Euroformula racer Nil Montserrat, which enters the Transam Euro, a reminiscence of the iconic Ford Mustang, for Albert Estragués. The Spanish team is set to expand its entry as from forthcoming rounds.
Also at the debut in the GT Cup is Ombra Racing, although the Italian squad has been a familiar and successful contender in the International GT Open. Its Porsche 911 GT Cup will be in the hands of Aldo Festante, another familiar face in GT Sport weekends, as he raced in the Euroformula until last year.
Two Aston Martin Vantage are off to a full-season campaign, entered by Team Virage for local hero Robert Hefler and Frenchman Philippe Valenza and for French duo Stéphane Adler-Michael Blanchemain.
From Portugal, Sports&You brings one its Mercedes AMG for stalwart pair António Coimbra-Luis Silva, who join the GT Cup after having shone for years in the International GT Open, where they clinched twice the Am title.
Joining from nearby Slovakia is Racing Trevor, a squad well-known in Central Europe and already seen in the International GT Open, which enters its BMW M4 (pictured) for Hungary’s Walter Csaba and Slovakia’s Gregor Szigo.
While there will be no spectators in Hungary this weekend, all the action can be followed from fans at home thanks to live coverage by major broadcasters and online channels in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Moreover, races are also livestreamed on our website www.gtcupopen.net and on the GT Cup Open Europe channel on Youtube, accessible from all over the world and from all devices. Commentary is in English, by Chris McCarthy and Elliot Wood.