International GT Open – Tenth season of the series to start at Paul Ricard

Everything is set for the first round of the International GT Open. The stage for the 2015 season kick-off is Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France, where an 18-car field is expected to battle for the win from the start to the very last lap.

AF Corse’s poker. There will be eight Ferraris on the grid, four of them fielded by AF Corse. The iconic No. 51 458 Italia will be driven by experience Italian Michele Rugolo and Thailand’s Pasin Lathouras, a driver who completed the Ferrari Challenge some years ago and is considered a close Ferrari friend. Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron will be in car No. 52, while Claudio Sdanewitsch in the No. 53 will be chasing the perfect back-to-back win in the Gentlemens’ class after last year’s title. The fourth AF Corse’s Ferrari will be No. 90 for Italian GT champion Raffaele Giammaria and 2014 Ferrari Challenge Europe Pirelli Am Champion Ezequiel Perez Companc, the youngest and very promising member of the Argentine racing family.

The other four. Scuderia Villorba Corse was a key player in last year’s championship and the team’s car will once again be one to look for as it fields two new but ambitious drivers: GT star Alessando Balzan (a winner in the America, GT series) and fellow Nicola Benucci. Kessel Racing is returning to the series after a one year stop fielding car No. 11 for two well-known names of the GT3 world: Michal Broniszewski and Giacomo Piccini. SMP Russian Bears team is still on track but will race under the name of Baporo Motorsport with two cars: the No. 14 for Russian Vyacheslav Maleev and the No. 15 for Argentine Emiliano Lopez and the Spanish star José Maria Lopez Aicart.

What’s new. The 2015 International GT Open season brings in some rule changes, with a more homogenous field (all FIA GT3 or assimilated cars), the new GT-Am category and a new tyres supplier like Michelin. Three class will be battling on the track: the Super GT, with pairs composed by two Pro drivers, platinum or gold referring on the FIA categorization, the GTS, with pairs composed by a Pro and an Am driver (Silver or Bronze FIA drivers) and the GT-Am, reserved to the Bronze drivers. Race 1 will start on Saturday at 4 PM CET and will last 70 minutes; Race 2 will be 10 minutes shorter and will start at 2 PM CET.

Good tradition. Ferrari has a great tradition on the Circuit Paul Ricard, having won there more than 40 times. The first win came in 1997 when Frenchman Jean Gay won the GT4 category on a privately owned Ferrari F355 Challenge. The latest win came last October when Enzo Guibbert and Gilles Vannelet, on the Sport Garage’s 458 Italia, beat the Team Sovref ASP’s Ferrari driven by Eric Debard and Olivier Panis. The Coupe de France category win went to Team Duqueine’s 458 Italia of Ange Barde and Olivier Grotz.