The pilots of the SMP Racing Russian Bears team began the season of the International GT Open by clinching victory in the Winter Series. Last week-end two crews of the team secured double victories and stepped on the podium twice following the results of two races. The first round of the International GT Open Winter Series was held on March 1–2 on the Paul Ricard Circuit in Le Castellet, France. The SMP Racing Russian Bears team entered two vehicles for participation in this series — Ferrari 458 Italia with the number 58 (Roman Mavlanov/Daniel Zampieri) and number 59 (Vyacheslav Maleev/José Manuel Pérez-Aicart).
During the practice sessions held prior to the race both crews were keeping among the leaders and proved they were ready for the competitions. That is why the first race saw both cars of the SMP Racing Russian Bears team in the first line of the starting grid. José Manuel Pérez-Aicart took the lead right after the start with Daniel Zampieri going behind. Both cars of the Russian team created a comfortable 10-second gap straight away. That is why they did not fall victims of the crashes taking place in the middle of the peloton. On lap 8 Zampieri overtook Pérez-Aicart and the SMP Racing Russian Bears cars continued their duel. After a pit stop and driver change, the Ferrari of Mavlanov/Zampieri was still in the lead. It was 6 seconds ahead of the Maleev/Pérez-Aicart car and 15 seconds ahead of their closest competitors — Belarusian drivers Alexander Talkanitsa and his son Alexander Talkanitsa (AF Corse). There were no changes in the first three places till the end of the race. The SMP Racing Russian Bears team secured a double victory — Roman Mavlanov and Daniel Zampieri climbed on the top podium step and the second step was taken by Vyacheslav Maleev and José Manuel Pérez-Aicart.
In the second race the crews of the SMP Racing Russian Bears team both started in the top-five and went into action straight away. Roman Mavlanov (#58) was competing with the Polish pilot Michał Broniszewski (Kessel Racing) for the second place and Vyacheslav Maleev was competing against the Italian drivers Mario Cordoni (Ombra Racing) and Massimiliano Bianchi (Kessel Racing) for the fifth place. The fight remained tight after the pit stops. Daniel Zampieri (SMP Racing Russian Bears) was just a second away from first two positions with José Manuel Pérez-Aicart keeping straight after him. The pilots were putting pressure on each other till the chequered flag and the gap between them on the finish line was just a few tenth of a second. The father and son Talkanitsa (AF Corse) clinched victory, the crew of Roman Mavlanov and Daniel Zampieri climbed on the third podium step with Vyacheslav Maleev and José Manuel Pérez-Aicart taking the fourth place.
The next round of the International GT Open Winter Series will be held on March 14–15 on a track in Barcelona (Spain).