Emil Frey battles to victory in first GT Open race at Paul Ricard

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Credit: GT Open

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Giacomo Altoe’s aggressive charge in the second half of the opening GT Open race of the year at Paul Ricard secured Emil Frey Racing its first victory with Lamborghini.

Starting in fourth, Alberto Costa made quick work of relegating Teo Martin Motorsports’ Martin Kodric from third and pulled the Huracan GT3 Evo onto the rear of Daniel Zampieri in the second-placed Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Try as he might, the Spaniard couldn’t find a way past Zampieri despite a number of optimistic moves going into Signes as well as the chicane breaking up the Mistral Straight.

His repeated moves allowed Kodric to loom large in the mirrors of Costa in his McLaren 720S and when the Lamorghini driver ran wide coming out of the chicane, Kodric pulled alongside and swept past Costa going into Signes.

Demoted to fourth, the team didn’t start to make real progress until Costa jumped into the pits and handed over to Altoe. With race leader Allam Khodair pitting to hand over to Marcelo Hahn at the same time, the two cars came out nose-to-tail.

Altoe wasted no time in robbing Hahn of his position and as the pair went into Virage du Camp, the Italian stuck his nose up the inside of the Spaniard and ran the Teo Martin driver off track with the latter also losing another position to Alessio Rovera who had taken over the SPS Mercedes from Zampieri.

Pro-Am winners Valentin Pierberg & Tom Onslow-Cole (Credit: GT Open)

It was almost a case of de ja vu just one lap later as Miguel Ramos, in the SPS Automotive Mercedes, came out of the pits right in front of Altoe. The latter once again tailed the Spaniard all the way to Virage du Camp and lunged up the inside to take the position. The move dropped Ramos to fourth, with Rovera taking second and Henrique Chaves – who took over from Kodric – moving into third.

Rovera didn’t maintain the position for long though as Chaves moved up to second with 25 minutes still to go and set about chasing down Altoe.

Despite closing in to 0.4sec on the last lap, the Emil Frey driver was too canny around the Paul Ricard circuit and crossed the line just one car length ahead of Chaves.

Fran Rueda made it a Teo Martin two-three as Rovera slipped down to seventh in the closing stages – unable to match the pace of the cars ahead with Ramos moving into fourth.

Pro-Am victory went to Tom Onslow-Cole. The SPS Mercedes driver took over the car from Valentin Pierburg in 12th and – thanks to lapping quicker than the race leader – he finished fifth overall.

Polesitters Khodair and Hahn finished seventh with Raton Racing claiming eighth, while SunEnergy1 took ninth in the hands of Kenny Habul and Thomas Jager. Vincenzo Sospiri Racing rounded out the top ten.

HTP Motorsport secured Am Class honours with Martin Konrad and Alexander Hrachowina ending the race 13th overall.

Credit: GT Open

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