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Race report

GT Winter Series Jerez: SR Motorsport dominates weekend

SR Motorsport had a happy outing in Andalucia as its Mercedes AMG GT3 claimed the Sunday enduro and one of the two sprint races at Jerez.

Kaczmarski leads Lewandowski

Kaczmarski leads Lewandowski

Gedlich Racing

While Jay Mo Hartling and Kenneth Heyer had plenty to celebrate, the biggest smile belonged to another Mercedes driver, Martin Kaczmarski. That was after the Pole took the biggest win of his car racing career in the Sunday morning sprint.

Race 1

With Hartling having taken pole by an enormous margin of over three seconds, it was no surprise to see him streak to victory in the Saturday sprint.

But despite being pulverised by the SR Motorsport Mercedes, most of the opposition were happy at the end of the race. Second-placed Kaczmarski was thrilled with his first taste of GT3 machinery, while Ibrahim Badawi had reason to celebrate after pulling off a terrific display of defensive driving to keep the similar Cup Lamborghini of Adrian Lewandowski at bay.

Kaczmarski, whose background includes a Dakar Rally, rallycross and low-level Porsche racing, briefly grabbed the lead at the start. Hartling had no time to attack him before the safety car signs started flashing, thanks to Alfredo Hernandez going off at Turn 2.

Hartling wasted no time at the restart, however, sweeping past his fellow AMG GT3 into Turn 1. He then started touring around 2.5s per lap quicker than Kaczmarski, who had a lonely but enjoyable race from there.

“Every season I seem to do something new,” said Kaczmarski. “This is my first race with the Mercedes and I love this car. But the guy in front of me showed me how to use the car. So I need to work a lot. I can’t expect a better result when it’s the first time in my life I’m driving this car…but, you know, I’m ambitious!”

The battle for third place was the highlight of this race. Lewandowski was briefly ahead after the restart, but gave the spot back with an error later in the lap. And try though it might, the GT3 Poland Lambo never could get in front of the DL Racing example again.

Much of this triumph in the Cup Lamborghini class was down to some canny tactics from the clearly slower Badawi, who avoided mistakes, made his car wide and picked some smart moments to wrong-foot his chaser.

“From the middle of the race onwards, I could feel the tyre was degrading,” reported the Egyptian. “The car was snapping a lot in the middle of the corners and the exits. I focused on playing defensive, because I wasn’t going to build a gap.”

Badawi conceded that not every slow moment in the middle of the corners was down to his handling troubles.

“I have to admit I did that on purpose sometimes – in Turn 5, the last corner and also Turn 2. Because I knew he was going to have a very good exit [otherwise]!”

It worked exceedingly well, with Lewandowski only managing to get alongside once, only to outbrake himself.

Hubert Darmetko (PTT Racing) showed how to pull off a late move when he overhauled Leandro Martins (Racar Motorsport) to win the battle for both fifth place and Cup Porsche honours. Best in the Cup Ferrari class was John Dhillon (AF Corse).

Race 2

The ambitious Kaczmarski did not have long to wait before beating that SR Motorsport Mercedes. With Hartling stepping out of the rival machine for Sunday’s wet race, this was the Pole’s chance and he grabbed it.

Andrzej Lewandowski could certainly have challenged him. The two cars ran together from the start of this fully wet race and appeared to have similar speed. But in what is becoming something of a habit where the GT3 Poland entry is concerned, the Lewandowski car found a way to ruin its own chances.

On this occasion, it was Lewandowski Senior’s transgression at the start that spoiled things. He was blatantly out of formation at the green flag, and inevitably had to serve a drive-through penalty for it. That meant Kaczmarski only had to keep his car pointing the right way to take the biggest win of his car racing career – and he made no mistake on that front.

Jay Mo Härtling, Schnitzelalm Racing

Jay Mo Härtling, Schnitzelalm Racing

Photo by: Gedlich Racing

Lewandowski still came home a comfortable second, such was the pace advantage of the first two finishers. But Darmetko nonetheless produced an impressive drive to complete the overall podium, working hard to find a way past first Martins and then Kenneth Heyer, the man now at the wheel of Saturday’s winning car.

Martins eventually followed Darmetko through to secure fourth, with Heyer fifth. Badawi struggled in comparison to the dry first race, and could only manage ninth.

Class winners were Andrzej Lewandowski, Darmetko and Dhillon.

Race 3

The enduro went ahead in similar conditions to the morning sprint, but shared cockpits always make for a change of dynamic. Mateusz Lisowski, who always sits out the sprint races, would also add another dimension with his Cup Porsche.

The PTT Racing Pole went from row two to the lead by Turn 3, while front-row men Heyer and Kaczmarski slotted in behind him.

The safety car then made an early appearance as the Dhillon Ferrari broke down amid plenty of smoke.

Racing resumed on lap six, with Kaczmarski passing fellow solo driver Lisowski a lap later. Heyer then followed him through on lap nine. That’s how it stayed until the pits opened, with Adrian Lewandowski some way back in fourth.

After the leaders had completed their stops, Kaczmarski had his nemesis Hartling to deal with once again. Though the Pole had improved in terms of lap time deficit to the German, it wasn’t enough to stop Hartling breezing past within a couple of laps.

Kaczmarski then settled into a respectable second place, finishing within five seconds of Hartling.

Lisowski was hit with a drive-through for registering too short a pitstop, but had enough of an advantage to stay ahead of Andrzej Lewandowski.

Lewandowski then spun off anyway, leading to a second safety car just before the finish. With the top three already set up in an order corresponding to their speed, it was an uneventful restart and run to the flag as far as the leaders were concerned.

Lisowski took the Cup Porsche class ahead of the car shared by Martins and Dieter Svepes.

Hernandez (BDR Competition) finished best of the Lambos, while the Kessel Racing duo of Petros Makris and Marco Bonanomi scored the win among the Cup Ferraris.

Badawi was never in contention in this race after starting from the pits and then being issued a penalty for a pitstop infringement.

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