Double Podium for Nerea Martí in Spanish GT at Jerez
Nerea Martí completed the fifth round of the Spanish GT Championship with two second place finishes in Jerez. At her first season of GT4 racing, Martí and her teammate José Manuel de los Milagros remain in contention for the title ahead of the final round in Barcelona.
Spanish racer Nerea Martí completed the fifth round of the 2023 Spanish GT Championship with two second place finishes in Jerez, thus claiming her fourth and fifth podium of the year aboard the BMW M4 GT4 operated by BMW Spain Motorsport. At her first season of GT4 competitions after racing the BMW M2 CS Racing car, Martí continued her partnership with the factory team and with teammate José Manuel de los Milagros, as the duo remain in contention for the GT4 class title ahead of the final event in Barcelona. Martí and de los Milagros secured their first podium at their debut in the new M4 GT4 in Navarra – then the Valencian returned behind the wheel for the third round at Motorland, having missed the Portimao round due to a clash in her racing schedule. At Aragon, she took her first victory – then continued to shine with two more podiums at her home track at Circuito Ricardo Tormo: a third place in race 1 and another win in race 2. Jerez de la Frontera hosted the fifth round of the season and Nerea aimed to close in on the lead in the standings. “It's the penultimate race of the championship and I'm really looking forward to the weekend", she commented. "Everyone is very close and Jerez can be a great opportunity to make a difference in the points. We are going to push to be at the top.” At the 4.428 km circuit, though, the BMW squad had to battle with a particularly unfavorable Balance of Performance, and Martí and de los Milagros had to fight their way to a fourth and a third place on the grid for the two 48-minute races.
José Manuel de los Milagros took the start in the first race and slotted in third place at the green flag, just behind Jordi Fuset and Patrick Bay, in P14 overall. De los Milagros soon managed to overtake Bay before the end of the first lap and chased the Motor Club Sabadell Porsche of Fuset a few tenths ahead, only to take the class lead on lap 3. Manuel Lao hit trouble in the #115 Mercedes and pulled into the pit lane – as one of the class front runners was out of the race with 40 minutes to go. The top three in the GT4 class continued to run incredibly close, with De los Milagros leading the #125 Porsche and the #116 Mercedes with less than a second separating them. On lap 8, the BMW Motorsport driver opened a small gap as Fuset came under pressure from Bay; the two fought wheel to wheel for almost an entire lap, after which the NM Motorsport Mercedes snatched second place. Pit stops started with 26 minutes to go and both Bay and Fuset pitted early. José Manuel de los Milagros stayed out one more lap, before he handed over to Nerea Martí from the lead in the GT4 class. An off track for Lionel Amrouche, meanwhile, brought out a yellow flag and most of the field elected to pit, predicting a full course yellow which eventually did not come. The #116 NM Motorsport Mercedes of Guillermo Aso had caught the leading BMW after the pit stop and attacked the Nerea on lap 14; after a close duel, Aso made a move stick on the young Valencian with 18 minutes to go. Once ahead, Aso pulled away; although the #125 Mercedes ended its race in the gravel trap with 6 minutes to go, the race remained green and Bay/Aso secured the first win of the weekend, ahead of de los Milagros and Nerea Martí, second across the finish line after a very solid race in the #172 factory BMW M4 GT4, also in the overall top ten.
José Manuel de los Milagros took the start once again in race 2 – lining up from third in class and P13 overall, behind Lao and Aso. With another sterling getaway, De los Milagros had a great first lap and cleared all the class competition, also moving up to the overall top ten – and running close to several cars of the faster classes. The NM Motorsport's Mercedes of Guillermo Aso, though, continued to put pressure on de los Milagros but he held on and used traffic from other classes to keep a safe gap. The #172 BMW M4 GT4 had consistent pace and eventually opened a gap on the class pursuers as the pit window opened. De los Milagros climbed the overall classification during the pit cycle and ran as high as fourth overall, before pitting on lap 14. Nerea Martí took over and rejoined in second, after Lao/Duran managed to get ahead at the pit stop. Martí had to navigate through traffic and settled on a good pace, with a safe margin to the #116 NM Motorsport Mercedes driven by Aso/Bay behind. Nerea managed the traffic well and remained in control of second in class, eventually crossing the line with another runner up place in Jerez, ahead of both Aso/Bay and Mendieta/Fuset. “The weekend went quite well, taking home two second positions", Nerea said after the races. "It is true that the race has been a bit difficult because the BoP, balance of performance, has hurt us a lot and we have fought as hard as possible to achieve the results", she continued. "The top three cars are very close in the points, so we will give our 100% in Barcelona to win the championship.” While they couldn't secure another win, Nerea Martí and her teammate had a highly consistent weekend scoring a healthy haul of points, as the BMW Spain Motorsport duo will aim to fight for the Spanish GT championship title at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 1-2 December.