It was a under glorious sun and in front of over 10,000 spectators that the competitors of the series organized by Race Ready with the support of the SRO Motorsport Group took part in the races of the circuit nearby Madrid.
Race 1 – Maiden win for Mariano Pires / César Machado
The #23 ABM Grand Prix Ginetta G55 GT4 of Mariano Pires and César Machado has won the morning race, converting pole position into victory to secure the British manufacturer its first overall win in the series.
Sharing the first row with Mariano Pires was Marmaduke Hall, the best of the GTC class in qualifying yesterday. The two youngsters promised fireworks for the race start and they didn’t disappoint. The English, who was driving the Tockwith Motorsport’s Ginetta G50 GT4, claimed the lead at the start, but the Portuguese went on attack mode right after.
Back in the field, Miguel Cristóvão, who missed yesterday’s qualifying due to technical problems in his Mercedes-AMG GT4, started an impressive comeback from the very last place on the grid, overtaking a great part of the opposition in the first couple of laps.
The intensity of the first place battle was increasing, though Hall was defending his place safely. However, with twelve minutes into the race, he couldn’t sustain Pires stronger pace.
At that point, Miguel Cristóvão was already running in third, although he was five seconds away from the leading duo. A steady pace allowed the Portuguese driver to catch the two frontrunners when the race was interrupted by red flags.
With 15 minutes into the race, Jon Alzpurua lost the control of his #94 Team Virage Aston Martin Vantage GT4, crashing it heavily into the barriers at Varzi corner. The Safety-Car has been called due to the debris caused by the Aston Martin accident. Due to the difficulties of removing the British-made car the race has been suspended with all competitors heading to the pits to allow the Jarama track marshals to clean the racetrack.
As soon as the race was restarted behind Safety-Car, now with an extension of eight minutes, the pit stops begun. The front-runners stayed a couple of laps more in the track before Pires handing his seat to César Machado as Cristóvão gave the way to Francisco Abreu.
Abreu managed to close the gap to Machado but he wasn’t able to make that successful move to first. Pires crossed the finish line in first, followed by Madeira Island-born Abreu.
CO Jones led the way of the Am class in the first part of the race but the British gentleman driver didn’t swithc off his Aston Martin Vantage GT4 during the compulsory pit stop, being forced to reset his car, allowing the #215 NM Racing Team Ginetta G55 GT4 duo Jorge Cabezas and A. Martín to take a winning lead. Given the length of the race and the on-track incidents that occurred, this was a remarkably cool performance from the Spanish outfit.
The GTC category was won in truly commanding fashion by the #15 Tockwith Motorsport Ginetta G50 duo, which led from pole and never looked troubled on its drive to victory. Javier Escobar took the #7 E2P Ginetta G50 GT4 to second with Juan Reina Martín / Lorenzo López, who struggled with a gearbox problem, crosing the finish line in third in the class.
Race 2 – From last to first
Sunday’s Race 2 was started without its pole-sitter, as the Nicholas Silva’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4 was badly damaged after the accident suffered by Jon Alzpurua in the morning race.
It was César Machado who led the pack when the lights went out and, as it happened in the morning, the Tockwith Motorsport Ginetta G50 surprised everybody in the first moments, taking the lead after the first corner. However, this time the driver of the ABM Grand Prix Ginetta G55 GT4 was resolute and retook the lead shortly after.
Meanwhile, Francisco Abreu put in an amazing recovery drive from the last position on the grid, and moved up to third at the end of the opening lap. The young ace of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 started to put pressure on Edward Moore and, with six minutes into the race he was second, launching a pursuit to César Machado.
The Madeira-born driver closed in the ABM Grand Prix’s driver and, with fifteen minutes into the race, he attacked the lead, overtaking his rival in the braking area to Fangio.
With a strong pace, Francisco Abreu built-up a comfortable lead, that was superior to eight seconds when he delivered the car to his teammate, Miguel Cristóvão.
The Mercedes-AMG GT4’s driver stretched the lead to Mariano Pires, who was now driving the ABM Grand Prix’s Ginetta G55 GT4, but with thirty-five minutes into the race, the Safety-Car was called in when Marmaduke Hall and Kosta Kanaroglou ended in the gravel in Fangio, in the end of the main straight, after making contact between them.
Fighting for the GTC lead, the English youngster braked in a bump when was trying to get the class lead, but his Ginetta G50 GT4 run away from his control, and the contact with the Greek’s similar car was unavoidable and both retired in the spot.
With both cars in the gravel, the Safety-Car was called in and the gap that the Veloso Motorsport’s duo built-up was erased.
However, Miguel Cristóvão kept everything under full control and once the race was back to green-flag racing, pulled away and saw the chequered flag in the first place with six second to Mariano Pires. Besides, he also took Pro-Am Cup honors.
The GTC was also closely-fought, but Marmaduke Hall / Edward Moore and Kosta Kanaroglou retired when they were fighting for the lead, Javier Escobar inherited the top spot in class. Juan Reina Martín / Lorenzo Lopez, also driving another Ginetta G50 GT4, stepped on to the second step of the rostrum.
In the Am Cup, A. Martín and Jorge Cabezas, in the NM Racing Team’s Ginetta G55 GT4, won again, beating CO Jones / Peter Peters, Team Virage’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya will host the next GT4 South European Series’ round on August 31st and September 1st.
Mariano Pires (1st Pro Am – Race 1 winner)
“I couldn’t expect such an amazing result on my GT4 debut! I didn’t have experience at all with this kind of cars. My teammate started from the pole position and despite the Tockwith Ginetta overtook us for the lead, we charged to take P1 again later in the race. After the safety car period, I managed to put it a solid stint keeping the Veloso Mercedes at bay during three exciting final laps.”
Marmaduke Hall (1st GTC – Race 1)
“We had minimum track time before coming here, so we didn’t know what really expect. We really enjoyed qualifying but we didn’t know if we could match in the races. I was really happy to take the lead and keep the other GT4 cars behind. It’s a fantastic result for us. We were really happy to come here and have the pace.”
Jorge Cabezas (1st Am - Race 1): “It was a real challenging effort! As a result of minor technical issues on Saturday, which prevented us from testing in both free practice sessions, I headed into the race with no experience in the Ginetta G55 GT4 at all. But I constantly improved my lap times and after the pit stop we took the lead in our class. We feel on the moon with our result.”
Francisco Abreu (1st Pro Am – Race 2 winner)
“First and foremost, I want to congratulate the team, after a long night to have the car ready for today’s race. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, as we just were on track in the first practice, but got up to speed fast. In the race I started well and we had a good pace and we got the first place. Miguel did a good stint and we won, something we were looking for some time. I want to thank to Sports & You for borrow us their flywheel. Our goal is the championship and got many points here and we are leading the standings.”
Javier Escobar (1st GTC – Race 2) “Even when the grid size isn’t too big, I enjoyed a lot because the performance of the cars are pretty much the same, which it is quite uncommon in motorsport. It was a closely-fight race for everybody, local fans or drivers. At the same time, it was very physically demanding due to high temperatures at Jarama. My class win resulted from hard work and avoiding any incident and, despite struggling with tire wear in the final two laps, I brought the GTC trophy home.”
Alberto de Martín (1st Am - Race 2) “It was an exciting start to the race! I gained fourth places when the lights went out, but the Aston Martin hit me at Pegaso and he got a puncture losing a lap. From then on, I lost rhythm and two Ginetta cars passed me again. I handed over to Jorge in the pit stop, who also delivered a recovery drive to finish fourth overall and first in AM Cup. It was a nice weekend!”