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GT Winter Series Aragon: Heyer and Hartling top of a Mercedes trio

A trio of Mercedes-AMG GT3s led the charge in the GT Winter Series at Aragon, as SR Motorsport duo Kenneth Heyer and Jay Mo Hartling claimed a comfortable endurance win.

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Race 1

The opening 30-minute sprint race of the category’s penultimate weekend proved eventful on Saturday afternoon, as Martin Kaczmarski and Heyer duelled for the victory.

From the rolling start, Heyer got the jump into Turn 1 from polesitter Kaczmarski, as a number of Porsche GT3 Cup cars caused havoc after starting out of position.

Kaczmarski tracked Heyer in the early stages, bided his time and then made his bid for the lead at Turn 12 on lap five. Heyer’s blue SR Motorsport Mercedes ran wide, which allowed Kaczmarski’s white PTT Racing version through for a lead he would not lose.

But two safety car interludes, the first to recover Miguel Gomez’s beached Porsche, gave Kaczmarski a double restart headache. He negotiated both without drama to score his second GTWS race victory, leading Heyer home by 3.5 seconds.

“I’m not so happy because I forgot to wear my sunglasses and the sun was in my eyes!” quipped the winner.

“The car was really good and we had a nice fight. I didn’t feel the pressure with the restarts because my rival was really professional and it was fun to spend time racing him. I’m not proud of myself yet. I need more wins!”

David Thilenius completed a Mercedes-AMG GT3 1-2-3 as expected in his Schnitzelalm version, but only after trailing Hubert Darmetko’s GT3 Cup Porsche in the early stages.

Following the first safety car restart, Leandro Martins also passed Thilenius and challenged Darmetko into Turn 7. The pair made contact, both cars slithering into the gravel trap.

Sportingly, Martins acknowledged he was to blame and helped push Darmetko’s car back into the race. The incident gifted Thilenius the podium, Martins’ stranded car triggering the second safety car interruption.

The damage to Martins’ Racar Motorsport 911 ruled the car out from action on Sunday, robbing 2022 Porsche Supercup champion Dylan Pereira of a chance to race.

Plusline Racing Team’s Joachim Bolting finished fourth overall and first in the Cup class ahead of Pierre Ehret on the road. But the latter had been one of the starting position violators and had not served a drive-through punishment, so copped a 35s penalty. That elevated Pablo Bras, who had served his penalty, to second in class and fifth overall, ahead of the recovering Darmetko.

Race 2

Heyer’s SR Motorsport team-mate Hartling prevailed in the battle of the Mercedes trio in the second sprint race on Sunday.

His victory from pole position was only interrupted by a brief safety car interlude when Porsche driver Bras showered gravel onto the track with an off at Turn 12.

Hartling negotiated the safety car restart without drama and stroked to a comfortable win, 6.649s ahead of Schnitzelalm’s Moritz Wiskirchen.

Race-one winner Kaczmarski shadowed the top two this time, the PTT driver losing time by running wide at Turn 12 on the 11th lap and was forced to settle for a podium.

The Rinaldi Porsche driven by Christian Hook took fourth overall as the last of the GT3 runners, but only just finished ahead of GT3 Cup class winner Darmetko, who made up for his disappointment in race one with a spirited drive. He finished ahead of the Saturday class winner Bolting.

Race 3

Kaczmarski chose to sit out the one-hour endurance race, which in effect left SR Motorsport’s Heyer and Hartling unopposed to claim a comfortable win at the end of a full day of action on Sunday. The pair look set to wrap up the GTWS title at the final round next weekend in Barcelona.

“Kenneth did a great job at the beginning of the race, then we had the driver change and I just carried it home,” said Hartling.

Heyer, after giving his team-mate a hug, added: “Jay Mo is more or less a rocket now, he’s getting better and better with every weekend.

“I prepared the car as well as I could in the lead, not using too much of the tyres and staying within the track limits. His times in the race were really great. Next weekend, if we want to be champions, we have to be smart.”

The Schnitzelalm Mercedes finished second, 54.363s down on the winner as the light faded on the circuit. Thilenius didn’t make the task any easier by finding himself swamped by a gaggle of Porsches at the start. But the team helped recover the situation at the pitstops, Wiskirchen taking over to deliver the runner-up position.

There was some humour in the GT3 Cup class. Darmetko put in a typically gritty first stint to challenge a soloing Bolting, before handing over to Mateus Lisowski.

But somewhere in the middle of the stop the car broke the pitlane speed limit, earning the pair a drive-through penalty. Lisowski took his punishment to delighted cheers from his amused PTT Racing crew.

Once back out on the circuit, Lisowski wasted little time catching and passing Bras in the Wileco Motorsport entry to run second in class, then caught Bolting – only to make a mess of the Cork Screw at Turns 8/9. A quick spin meant he had to start again.

Lisowski caught Bras again and pulled a neat pass at the hairpin, then repeated the move the following lap to relieve Bolting of the class lead and third overall.

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