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Al Zubair and Grenier earn stunning victory in GT Open 500 race at Spa

27 May 2024

Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium – Oman’s Al Faisal al Zubair and Canadian teammate Mikaël Grenier delivered a racing masterclass to stun their rivals and win the ‘GT Open 500’ round of the 2024 International GT Open at the demanding Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on Sunday.

The Al Manar Racing by Getspeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 duo had qualified in second position and quickly moved into a lead they held for virtually the entirety of the 2hrs 40mins race that counted for double points towards the International GT Open. Despite missing round two in Germany, the crew now top the championship standings by eight points.

The Oregon Team’s Jordan Pepper and Alessio Deledda reached the chequered flag in second place in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo2 with Comtoyou Racing’s Lorens Levertua and Matisse Lismont rounding off the podium places. Al Zubair’s Getspeed teammates Anthony Bartone and Fabian Schiller came home in fifth place after 65 laps of racing.

Al Zubair said: “It was a great race today. We were very happy and couldn’t really ask for anything more. We were disappointed with qualifying on Saturday but we actually chose to go on one set of new tyres instead of two, so wee saved an extra set for the race. That seemed to make a lot of sense. Mik got both new sets and I had fresh tyres. We were happy with that in terms of strategy.

“It was very important for us to get past in the first few laps, which I managed to do on lap one. I had a good run into Eau Rouge and managed to get past Diego Mancheca. From there, we maintained and opened a gap. But then we had the safety car come out. That didn’t help us in terms of the gap because of the 10-second handicap in the last pit stop and the bigger the gap the better it would be for us. After the safety car, I managed to open the gap a bit and it was a bit close to the Lamborghini in the end but it all worked out well.

“We missed one round in Germany but we are back as championship leaders. So, very happy with the weekend’s performance, with Mik and the whole team. The next race is the big Spa 24. Hopefully we can get a win there.”

The green flag for the ‘GT Open 500’ was brought forward by 25 minutes and Al-Zubair lined up on the front row. The Omani made the perfect start in dry conditions and managed to get ahead of Team Motopark’s Diego Mancheca and snatch a slender lead.

Al Zubair gradually extended his advantage and led the race by 2.067 seconds after 13 laps with 2hrs 08mins remaining. The first of the mandatory pit stops saw Grenier take the hot seat and the Mercedes slipped back to second place behind Tijmen van der Helm in the Car Collection Motorsport Porsche but Grenier soon regained the lead when the 911 crew pitted. Marcos Siebert moved up to second in the Team Motopark Mercedes.

Grenier increased the gap to 5.709 seconds with 101 minutes of the race to run and the duo held the lead through the second driver change with Al Zubair retaking the wheel. With 69 minutes remaining, the Omani led by 21.992 seconds from Mancheca but the race was yellow flagged soon afterwards and the leading pack bunched up before the restart.

Al Zubair maintained his advantage and handed over to Grenier again with the Canadian increasing the duo’s lead to 6.043 seconds with 22 minutes and one additional lap remaining. Pepper had moved into second place with Levertua pushing the Aston Martin Vantage into third.

Grenier kept his cool over the closing laps to reach the chequered flag 13.035 seconds ahead of Pepper to seal a memorable win for the Al Manar Racing by Getspeed duo.

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