Wednesday, July 2, 2014

International GT Open Round 2 Portimao + Jerez

Once again Ben Evans has been gracious enough to give us his thoughts on both races the last two weeks.

 Ben take it away!

  So some thoughts from Jerez and Portimao:

- The championship is going to be awesome this year, as there are four cars all with a good chance of claiming the title. The challenge for the Ferrari squads is to get a good result in Budapest next weekend, as thereafter all the tracks suit the Corvettes a little bit more. How the teams manage the pit stop handicaps will be key. In particular don't expect either Villorba or SMP to look too glum if their cars are off the Super GT rostrum next time out.

- The transmission failure for the SRT Corvette could be a game changer for the title, to miss out on points in both races is a big blow, but I still expect them to be on pole in Hungary.

- Car balance. I think Jerez really showed how nicely the performance balances out. The Corvettes like long straights and fast corners, the Ferrari's the mid and low speed turns. A key factor in the title race this year will be compromise set-ups. Both SMP and Villorba have gone the wrong way with race set up at least once this year, particularly noticeable with the SMP car in R1 at Portimao, where it looked very twitchy.

- The weather has been kind to the Super GT runners, Jerez was a good 15C cooler than everyone expected, which meant the Dunlops lasted a lot longer. A hot weekend in Budapest will really put the cat amongst the pigeons.

- It was mega to see the Nissan on the grid in Jerez, and Craig Dolby is super-fast driver. If they decide to continue for the whole season I think they could challenge for GTS honors. Amazingly that was just the second race with the car for the Nova Race team. At this stage I don't know their plans for the rest of the year.
- I am also intrigued to see how the Novadriver Audi goes for the rest of the year. It always goes well in Jerez, but there was a notable step change in Aditya Patel this weekend, who seemed much more assured behind the wheel.

- The Autorlando Sport driver pairing is great fun, Joel and Matteo really complement each other. I would suggest they could be very strong candidates for the GTS title, where consistency is often key.

- Miguel Ramos is having a really good season, he and Nicky are making a good driver pairing and Nicky's very analytical approach suits Miguel well. Plus he seems much more relaxed out of the car. His performance at Portimao was no great shock as it is his favorite circuit.
- There are some interesting, lower profile, but high caliber drivers achieving success this year. Particularly Dennis Retera as you pointed out, and also Jose Perez-Aicart who has been rapid in each and every race. Paolo Ruberti is also a class act and a welcome addition.
- The clashes are unfortunately one of those things, especially in June where there are lots of F1 races, several WTCC rounds, and the Le Mans & N24 hours. Ultimately however GT Open is playing to a different audience and customer to the big endurance races. I think the Silverstone round will be a showpiece round for this season, with as I understand it a number of additional cars on the grid.
- The only date clash I don't understand is October 18/19 when every major series in Europe seems to be racing, with nothing on the surrounding weekends. To that end, I am also surprised that nobody has taken the plunge to schedule a couple of August races this year, given that there will be a dearth of live sport on European TV


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