2021 INTERNATIONAL GT OPEN
Muscat – Oman’s Al Faisal al Zubair and his Spanish teammate Andy Soucek came up with a strong show to finish fifth in the first race of round six of the 2021 International GT Open Series at Italy’s Monza circuit on Saturday.
After starting the dry 70-minute race from sixth on the grid, the Lechner Racing Team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R crew were never able to make in-roads into the top-three places in a race where Martin Kodri and Ethan Simioni reached the chequered flag 2.713 seconds clear of Michele Beretta and Frederick Schandorff in their Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini.
Reno Racing’s Marco Bonanomi and Jacopo Guidetti were third in a Honda NSX.
Speaking after the race, Al Faisal said, “I am actually quite happy with P5. I think we did a strong job. Three out of the four ahead of us were guest drivers and that is pretty good for my championship to get back into second place. It was not the easiest of races. Hopefully we will have a better second race.
“Unfortunately, we lost around 4.5 seconds in the pits and that didn’t help and trying to undercut with the Porsche Cup traffic didn’t pay off well. Despite that, P5 is a good result and we hope to do better in race two.”
The Lechner Racing crew qualified in sixth for the first of the weekend’s races with a best lap of 1min 47.278sec. Pole position fell to their main series rivals, Beretta and Schandorff. Bonanomi-Guidetti were second.
Soucek took the wheel of the Porsche for the first stint and lined up in sixth.
He managed to squeeze into fifth on the opening lap and held position through the first ten minutes of the race, with Beretta continuing to lead from Bonanomi.
Soucek moved up to fourth soon afterwards and was closing in on the top three when the yellow flag was raised and the safety car was briefly deployed. Kodrić managed to overtake Bonanomi to snatch second place behind Beretta.
Al Faisal replaced Soucek after 15 laps and 41 minutes of the race to run and was the first of the leaders to make a drive change with the exception of Guidetti replacing Bonanomi.
The Omani slipped to 13th position but climbed back to tenth when some of the front-runners also pitted and rose to fifth when the remainder made their driver changes.
The Omani driver had to settle for fifth place a mere 0.987 seconds behind the Italian at the end.
The Lechner Racing crew made a subdued start to their Monza weekend during the practice sessions
after 11 races:
1 Frederick Schandorff/ Michele Beretta (128 points),
2 Andy Soucek (96),
3 Baptiste Moulin /Yuki Nemoto (81),
4 Al Faisal al Zubair (78).