9th June, 2019 – GT Cup Open Europe Championship
Points scoring finishes in this weekend’s GT Cup Open Europe races means JP Mauro and Rodolfo Toni are lying second in the Am standings after getting their first taste of the challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
JP Mauro and Rodolfo Toni were left upholding the honours for VSR after a free practice crash side-lined the team’s Pro-Am entry for Hans-Peter Koller and Edoardo Liberati. The Brazilian pair were getting their first taste of the demanding Spa-Francorchamps circuit and their learning process was hampered by rain in the second free practice session which was then cut short by a red flag.
The track was dry for Saturday’s qualifying but a cold wind reduced the temperature and the surface was slippery. Toni secured a place on the sixth row and was seventh fastest in the Am class. Rain started to fall again at certain corners just as the field was completing the green flag lap. The race started as scheduled and after ten minutes the track was dry again. Toni moved up to fifth in class and enjoyed a close dice with Pisani’s Porsche for most of his stint. After twenty minutes the pit window opened and he came in to hand over the VSR Lamborghini to Mauro. After discounting their additional fifteen second success handicap Mauro rejoined the race and was quickly one of the fastest men on track. With fifteen minutes left patchy rain began to fall again but Mauro continued to make progress despite the tricky conditions and took the flag in sixth place overall, fourth in the Am class.
Sunday morning’s qualifying session saw Mauro take a place on the front row of the grid after being beaten to the pole in the dying seconds of the session by Leutwiler. At the start he slipped back to third, passed on the opening lap by Vivacqua. The pair battled hard for five laps before Mauro passed the McLaren on the run up to Blanchimont. He then set about catching Leutwiler who had built up a five second lead. When the pit window opened the gap was barely a second and Mauro harassed the Porsche until both drivers pitted on lap eleven. Toni took over the car and came out just ahead of Leutwiler’s Porsche. The Swiss driver attempted to pass but spun after running wide and fell back. Toni then came under pressure from Solieri who slipped past under braking at La Source. The Brazilian took the chequered flag fourth in class and fifth overall.
Points scoring finishes in both races leave Mauro and Toni lying third overall and second in the Am classification, just two points behind the joint leaders Leutwiler and De Wilde. The GT Cup Open Europe Championship continues next month with a double header race at the Hungaroring.
Photos by Fotospeedy