Monza hosts the penultimate round of the International GT Open series, while Spa-Francorchamps welcomes the ELMS and European Le Mans Series double-billing. In China, round two of the China Endurance Championship gets underway with the Harmony Racing-run Ferrari aiming for the top step of the podium.
CEC. Harmony Racing are set to tackle the second round of the China Endurance Championship at the Zhuzhou International Circuit with the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 no. 488 crewed by drivers Alex Jiatong Liang, Charles Hon-Chio Leong and Alexandre Imperatori. The first round in Ningbo, in August, saw the maiden outing for a Prancing Horse car in the series with the Jiatong Liang-Imperatori duo, against all odds, sealing their first overall podium and laying the foundations for the battle in the drivers’ standings. The team will be bolstered by the addition of young Macau driver Charles Hon-Chio Leong, who registered the Prancing Horse's first overall win in the China GT Championship a week after the CEC race in Ningbo. Located in the eastern part of Hunan Province, the 3.77-kilometre Zhuzhou International Circuit runs counter-clockwise, with a total of 14 turns, nine left and five right, with its longest straight some 645 metres in length. This weekend’s event will mark a first racing experience for the three Harmony Racing drivers in Zhuzhou.
Alex Jiatong Liang: “We hope to continue the pace of the opening weekend and be a bit luckier in this race, with fewer incidents. I am happy to welcome our new team-mate Charles, a young driver with a lot of single-seater experience, who definitely strengthens our team. Our goal is still to get as many points as possible in this race and to continue fighting for the drivers' title.”
Alexandre Imperatori: “This is the first time I have raced at Zhuzhou, a track that has yet to be discovered and this is certainly stimulating. Of course, we come here to battle for the win, as our aim does not change whether it is a new track or not. We have to work hard to find the right set-up and the correct points, because this weekend we have three drivers and we have to make sure they will all be racing flat out. We feel confident because we have a great team and good team-mates, so there is no reason to make any mistakes.”
Charles Hon-Chio Leong: “It is great to be part of the team in this round of the CEC. This is my first time in Zhuzhou and it will be the longest race of my career: I will have to learn everything, from the track characteristics to the race procedures and so on. I have already had the chance to race a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 in the China GT. All the conditions are there to do well, so hopefully I will get good results.”
David Chen Weian, Team Principal: “We are delighted to welcome Charles to our CEC driver line-up. Zhuzhou is probably the most special race on the CEC calendar this year, as GT3 cars and the Chinese domestic GT series rarely race on this circuit. Even though it is the first time our drivers will compete in Zhuzhou, we are absolutely confident that we can be in the battle for the victory, as we have one of the strongest line-ups in the paddock.”
ELMS. The penultimate round of the European Le Mans Series championship is scheduled to take place at Spa-Francorchamps. At the starting tape, vying for the chance of title honours, will be Duncan Cameron, David Perel and Matt Griffin who, in the no. 55 Spirit of Race-entered Ferrari 488 GTE, will attempt to stage a comeback in the standings. The trio, after taking the runner-up spot in the Spanish round, currently hold second position on 41 points, while Christian Ried, Lorenzo Ferrari and Gianmaria Bruni lead on 69.
While the others may lie far from the top of the rankings, the battle for second and third place, still involving numerous teams, will be rewarded with a ticket to the forthcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to the above mentioned Spirit of Race, will be the no. 57 Ferrari of Kessel Racing on 40 points, the no. 32 Ferrari of Rinaldi Racing on 38, and the JMW Motorsport-run Ferrari on 36. Indeed, a mere 17 points separate the cars from 2nd to 11th place, with a maximum points haul of 52 still up for grabs.
Representing the Belgian colours and thus racing on her home circuit, will be Sarah Bovy who, alongside Iron Lynx team-mates Michelle Gatting and Doriane Pin, are hoping for a change of fortune after the turn one accident in Spain which immediately took them out of the running while in second position.
After Friday’s free practice session, qualifying is scheduled to kick off on Saturday at 14.25, while the four-hour race itself is set to get underway at 11.30 local time.
In the meantime, the Iron Lynx team have won their appeal in the National Court of Appeal following the disqualification at the end of last July’s 4 Hours of Monza, on their return to the parc fermé. As a result, the no. 60 crew of the Ferrari 488 GTE, made up of Rigon-Schiavoni-Cressoni, who had crossed the finish line in first place, have the 25 points due to the winner reinstated, which moves them up into second spot in both the team and driver standings.
Le Mans Cup. The fifth round of the 2022 Michelin Le Mans Cup is scheduled for this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps with a 110-minute race. Representing the Maranello marque will be the AF Corse team fielding the no. 61 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 with Gino Forgione and Andrea Montermini. The drivers of the Piacenza-based team are sixth in the standings on 40 points. The race will get going on Saturday, 24 September at 16.05.
GT Open. The traditional sequence of dates leading up to the International GT Open’s grand finale continues with the usual events at Monza and Barcelona. The penultimate round of the series will be held this weekend on the Brianza track, this year celebrating its first centenary.
In the Pro Am class will be Murat Cuhadaroglu and David Fumanelli, occupying fourth place in the standings with Kessel Racing’s 488 GT3 Evo 2020, two points off third place, thanks to the two podiums and pole position recorded in the previous round in Austria. Also, in the same category, will be the Swiss team’s second Ferrari with Roman Ziemian and Axcil Jefferies, in addition to the no. 182 AF Corse entry featuring Willem Van der Vorm and Michele Rugolo.
In the Am class, currently in third place with the Piacenza-based team’s other car, will be Laurent De Meeus, once again to be accompanied by team-mate Jamie Stanley. Rounding out the line-up of cars from the Maranello manufacturer will be the no. 5 of Olimp Racing with Stanislaw Jedlinski and Krystian Korzeniowski and the no. 11 of Kessel Racing with Stephen Earle and Erwin Zanotti.
After Friday’s free practice, Saturday will see Race 1 qualifying, which will start at 13.40. Sunday qualifying will be held from 09.30 with the green flag for the second race at 14.15.