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Victory and vice-championship for Marco Holzer and Nick Tandy in International GT Open

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With a double victory for the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and a true race thriller, the flag dropped on the gripping International GT Open season. For the fifth time this year, works driver Marco Holzer and Manthey-Racing pilot Nick Tandy climbed to the very top of the podium – giving the German-British pairing more victories than any other team and earning the duo the vice-championship title in the GT Open in their maiden season. Holzer and Tandy were just three points shy of clinching the title. The success of the Porsche customer team at the finale in Barcelona was made perfect by Porsche works driver Patrick Pilet and his French compatriot Raymond Narac driving for IMSA Performance Matmut with second at the 16th and final round of the season.

The title decision came in the very last lap. Tandy led the field over the finish line, whilst his greatest rival from Ferrari was running in fifth. This would have handed the title to Manthey-Racing. But a marque colleague let the Ferrari pass in the last corner. Fourth place earned the Ferrari enough points to take the title. "We did everything right today and scored our fifth victory with our excellently set-up 911 GT3 RSR," said Marco Holzer.

"Our retirement yesterday actually should have put us out of contention for the title, but the Manthey-Racing guys never give up! That's what's special about Olaf and Renate Manthey. When Nick crossed the finish line today in first we became champions. Then a Ferrari stopped and that put us second." At Saturday's race, Tandy had to park the Manthey-Racing 911. "The connecting piece between the wheel and gearbox had broken," explained team boss Olaf Manthey. "That was the first technical problem this season."

After four of eight events, Holzer and Tandy travelled home as points' leaders. Their five victories and three further podium finishes are offset by three blameless retirements. Once an over-motivated opponent shunted the yellow and green 911 GT3 RSR from the track, then tyre damage sidelined the car, and now the technical defect at the 15th race. "I think we'll be able to celebrate the win and vice-championship title tomorrow," Marco Holzer said. "We have notched up the most wins, Nick is a great teammate and Manthey-Racing is the best team."

For the French IMSA Performance Matmut team, the season concluded peaceably with second place at the 16th race. At the 70 minute race on Saturday, works driver Patrick Pilet had put in yet another inspired fight. Raymond Narac handed the cockpit to Pilet lying in 15th. The winner of the last GT Open race in Monza ploughed through the field to finish in fourth. "I pushed like you wouldn't believe," said Pilet. "As we weren't so fast on the straights I had to overtake in the corners. Our 911 got increasingly better towards the end. If I'd had one more lap I reckon I could have stood on the podium."

On a slippery track on Sunday, start driver Pilet moved to the front of the field after two laps and handed the IMSA-911 to Narac in the lead. The hobby pilot initially defended himself against the charging Nick Tandy at the wheel of the Manthey-911, but the Briton finally passed Narac to take the lead. "Still the race was perfect today," said a very happy Pilet. "Only the safety car came at an inopportune moment during my stint, and I lost my advantage of a good seven seconds. Our 911 was extremely fast today and Raymond got really close to Tandy at the end."

The IMSA team had made a great start into the season. After the sixth race of the year in Spa-Francorchamps, which resulted in a double victory for the Porsche squads, Pilet/Narac were even topping the overall points table. But then through no fault of their own the two were kicked out of contention at the following two races. They fell back to sixth overall and because the field is so close in the fiercely-contested GT Open series, they were not able to improve their position even after the sensational win in Monza and the good Barcelona results.

Bad luck plagued the Italian customer team Autorlando Sport, who had won the title of the International GT Open in 2007 and followed up with four straight vice-championships. In the first lap of Saturday's race, Archie Hamilton (Great Britain) was nudged by a competitor. The 911 GT3 R, which was classified in the GTS class, spun and unluckily became stuck on the high kerbs. This retirement also meant the end of all title hopes. On Sunday, team colleague Marco Mapelli (Italy) took off into the final race of the season from 17th and suffered tyre damage in the melee of the first lap which forced him into an unscheduled pit stop. Again, no points were yielded. In the final tally, Hamilton/Mapelli finished third in the GTS drivers' classification.

In the GTS class, Autorlando Sport had celebrated a total of five wins in 2012 with the 911 GT3 R plus five other podium results. Three of these were snatched by Hamilton/Mapelli, the two other class victories were thanks to Italians Matteo Beretta and Marcello Puglisi. This secured Autorlando Sport second place in the GTS team classification.

At the final race of the successful sports car race series several guest teams competed alongside the regular squads. Performing the best at the wheel of a Porsche was the 2010 champion of the Carrera Cup Deutschland Nicolas Armindo and his teammate Anthony Beltoise in the 911 GT3 R fielded by PRO GT by Philippe Almeras. The two Frenchmen concluded Saturday's race as second in the GTS class. All in all, 39 GT vehicles from eight different manufacturers were at the start, ranging from Aston Martin to Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz and of course Porsche.

Result race 15
1. Malucelli/Barba (I/E), Aston Martin Vantage, 1:10.02.764 hours
2. Lopez/Montermini (ARG/I), Ferrari 458 GT Italia, + 5.236 seconds
3. Ramos/Giammaria (P/I), Chevrolet Corvette C6R, + 20.050
4. Narac/Pilet (F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 20.608
7. Beltoise/Armindo (F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 28.864

Result race 16
1. Holzer/Tandy (D/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 50:40.850 minutes
2. Pilet/Narac (F/), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.722 seconds
3. Ramos/Giammaria (P/I), Chevrolet Corvette C6R, + 18.823
4. Bruni/Leo (I/I), Ferrari 458 GT Italia, + 21.189
5. Peter/Broniszewski (A/PL), Ferrari 458 GT Italia, +21.618

Points’ standings after 16 of 16 races
Drivers 
1. Leo, Bruni, Ferrari, 195 points
2. Holzer, Tandy, Porsche, 192 
3. Barba, Malucelli, Aston Martin, 179
6. Narac, Pilet, Porsche, 152

Drivers GTS
1. Zampieri, Dalle Stelle, Ferrari, 88 points
2. Bizzari, Ferrari, 85
3. Hamilton, Mapelli, Porsche, 70
5. Beretta, Porsche, 43

Teams Super GT
1. AF Corse, Ferrari, 85 points
2. Manthey-Racing, Porsche, 84
3. Villois Racing, Aston Martin, 76

Teams GTS
1. Kessel Racing, Ferrari, 134 points
2. Autorlando Sport, Porsche, 113 
3. AF Corse, Ferrari, 95