Rossi and Davidson Weather The Storm, Win Season Opener

Gulf Racing AMR drivers Matteo Rossi and Roland Davidson took overall victory in the GT Super Series season opener at a stormy Autódromo José Carlos Pace.

Surrounded by a rain storm that wouldn’t subside for the entirety of the two hour race, the Gulf Racing duo would put themselves in the catbird seat for the outright victory through some help on the pit wall. After quickly clearing the struggling BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari of Andrea Constantini, the Italian would be a major fixture in the six car battlepack for the duration of the first stint in the race. Joining Rossi in the pack was the other factory Aston Martin in Nathan McKane, both Carson Corvettes, Reigning World Champion Chris Winter and Fabian Rei in the Gerald Pereria Lister Storm. The pair of factory Corvettes drove in team formation, Alliot taking the lead at the start of the race exiting the Senna S, as the pack behind navigated past the runners struggling on Pirelli tires. McKane would be the first to catch them and made short order of Qi before taking away the lead from the American Alliot a few laps later. Rossi would join the group as they slowed each other down with the battle not resolving itself and would become McKane’s rear gunner for a time, the top four running in their respective manufacture pairings as they started to gap themselves from the field. Rossi and McKane would swap the lead as they explored where the grip was in the unrelenting rainfall, while Qi started to slow himself into the chasing Chris Winter and Fabian Rei. Joey Alliot would relieve Rossi of second place overall as the first round of pit stops were due to open, with Matteo Rossi taking the first opportunity to pit for fresh Michelin tires.

Both Solvalou Lamborghinis and Fabian Rei would pit the next lap but the damage had already been done; when the pit stops cycled out Roland Davidson was sixteen seconds up the road to Nathan McKane in second, and Ryota Wong in third. That massive gap would not last with Davidson having to deal with having to navigate a group cars on the end of the lead lap. Eleven of those seconds that were built up through the sequence of pit stops were burned up as the race neared half distance. Only one lapped car then separated Davidson and Andrej Kremnicky in the Ravenwest Aston Martin which the Slovakian would quickly navigate, meaning the chase was on for the lead of the race. Joining the fray was Jacques Malenfant in the lead Carson Corvette, who used Kremnicky as a marker for clearing the lapped cars himself and would join the battle for the lead. They would both deal with Roland in short order, the Gulf Racing driver burning through the best of his tires earlier in the stint, before falling victim to Morgan Le Fay in the 01 Solvalou Lamborghini before the second pit window would open.

The Gulf Racing car would open the second round of pit stops, but this time flanked by both the 01 Lamborghini and the 14 GP Racing Lister Storm. The Solvalou and Gerald Pereria teams would jump the Gulf Racing crew in the pit stops, having to take on less fuel in the pit stop, but the Solvalou crew’s lightning quick tire changes also meant that they had a temporary buffer to the other two cars in the form of some lapped traffic.  Rossi would pass Rei using a lapped car as a pick, with four seconds then the gap between the Italian and Chris Winter. Rossi would waste no time getting back to the point, with Winter continuing to have frustrations in lapped traffic allowing McKane and Rei to climb back onto the podium positions. The next group of lapped cars loomed, with Rossi starting to clear them in short order, and McKane taking advantage of the situation to move to second overall. Winter would regain his cool and move back to a comfortable second place as the factory Aston Martin cars would run 1-2.

With Twenty Minutes remaining however, the composed running of the top two would be disrupted as McKane spun on a white line trying to slow down for a sector yellow for the stricken Best Of The World Lamborghini driven by Koyomi Setou. The Scot would lose fifty seconds trying to get his Ravenwest Aston facing the right way in the tricky conditions and was relegated to seventh, before being promoted to sixth when the sister Carson Corvette suffered a late engine failure and then fifth through passing the second GP Lister of Paul Travesen in a mad dash to regain lost time. But it would be smooth sailing for the rest of the race for Matteo Rossi, securing overall victory with Chris Winter not having the pace to make up the deficit late in the going. Fabian Rei and Ryota Wong ended up finishing an unopposed third overall after following the pit strategy of Gulf Racing.

Winning in the Independent’s Class would end up being the sister car to the class pole sitters in Antonio and Vidal Reyna-Sanchez. They, alongside most of the bottom half of the top ten, would have quiet affairs after dealing with the early chaos in the first stint of the race. Vidal would make the most of the clean running in the second stint of the race and would pass his teammate Joel Melrose for the class lead and would go uncontested for the race of the race. Melrose, and co-driver James Douglas would struggle with car balance the longer the race would go on, eventually dropping out of the top ten entirely at the hand of both CWG Team MacMillan Fords in the final stint of the race. The damage wasn’t done as David Simmons would take advantage of Rhys Davies’s attack on James Douglas and pick up the pieces to finish second in class, eleventh overall.

With only nine cars finishing on the lead lap, it was the lowest count for the series since the 2017 Super GP where, even with an extended field, only eleven cars were to finish on the lead lap; the constant rainfall playing havoc with the field throughout the race. Both MacMillan cars would spin during the race before their mid to late race surges, the LKM Lamborghini and Boutsen Ginion Corvette of Melanie Bourne also fell prey to the conditions but would continue to see the finish.

Race Results – After 72 Laps

201MWinter/Le FaySolvalou+2.899
314MRei/WongGerald Pereria+10.699
715MTravesen/SparksGerald Pereria+53.731
8555IA+V Reyna-SanchezTom Douglas+54.590
943MOlder Jr./JacobsonMacMillan+1:18.258
1040MDavies/KazamaMacMillan+1 Lap
1119IOliver/SimmonsOliver+1 Lap
12555IDouglas/MelroseTom Douglas+1 Lap
1331IWinton/RenalesWinton+1 Lap
1434IMass/RamirezOran+1 Lap
153IBourne/LuisaBoutsen Ginion+1 Lap
1616ISeron/DragunovWestside+1 Lap
1788IWilkinson/ChoLKM+2 Laps
1845IFeldhoffer/BertinelliEuromotor+2 Laps
1913IYaname/FaradayWinton+2 Laps
2030IJenkins/BrunoGlobex Scorpio+2 Laps
2124MAgostini/HorvathPagani+2 Laps
2228MConstantini/TantovichScuderia Italia+2 Laps
2332IAxelsen/PedersenRMR+3 Laps
2427MKozar/MolinaroScuderia Italia+3 Laps
25550IKomarek/WombesiCzechmate+4 Laps
2641ISetou/HortinBest In The WorldSpun off
294IDiaz/ShideharaBoutsen GinionOut of Fuel
30007IMagnus/GeiszlerFalken TireSuspension

Fastest Lap – Car 6 (Gulf Aston Martin – Rossi/Davidson) – 1:35.962

Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race – Oran Racing Industries: After starting on the penultimate row of the grid, Mass and Ramirez rallied all day to undo the damage, and were rewarded with fifth in class.

Reject of The Race – Jiri Komarek: He was not ready for the challenge that faced him in the GT Super Series, the rain only compounded his woes.