Double Win for Spinelli, Weering at Imola
Loris Spinelli and Max Weering won both legs of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe curtain-raiser at Imola, which marked the debut of the updated Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo EVO2 model.
The Bonaldi Motorsport duo took an early lead in the Pro standings by sweeping the pair of 50-minute races and taking pole for the opening encounter.
Spinelli established a lead of around 12 seconds at the end of the first stint in Race 1, as Pro-Am competitor Emanuele Zonzini rose from fourth on the grid to second with overtakes on Lewis Williamson and Milan Teekens.
A smooth pit stop saw Bonaldi maintain its advantage through Weering, while behind there was a change for second as Marzio Moretti, in for Teekens, slipped past Zonzini’s Am co-driver Emanuel Colombini at Tosa.
Moretti was looking like a contender but with 10 minutes remaining a tire issue pitched his Target Racing car into the Tamburello gravel, bringing out a safety car.
Despite the field bunching up, Weering extended the gap to just under 18 seconds in the remaining green flag time, while Jean-Luc D’Auria claimed the vacant second place.
Race 2 featured three caution periods but the outcome was the same as Spinelli and Weering secured victory, this time from second on the grid.
An accident at Piratella involving Kerong Li and Oliver Freymuth resulted in a lengthy FCY delay, after which Leipert Motorsport’s Brendon Leitch remained ahead of Weering.
A second FCY for a spun car enabled the leaders to make their driver changes, while a third during the closing stint resulted in a four-minute dash to the line.
After his team used the second FCY to its advantage, Dmitry Gvazava found himself in the overall lead but Spinelli sealed victory with a well-timed move into the first Rivazza.
Former MotoGP rider Dani Pedrosa finished 19th and eighth overall in his first two four-wheel races alongside Antonin Borga.
Imola GT4 Sweep for Racing Spirit of Leman
Gus Bowers and Konstantin Lachenauer staked an early claim to being GT4 European Series title contenders by winning both of the 60-minute races held at Imola.
The drivers of the Racing Spirit of Leman Aston Martin Vantage GT4 came away with a 15-point lead at the head of the Silver Cup standings after a strong weekend.
Victory in the opener came after Bowers made a well-timed overtake on Andreas Mayrl just before a Full Course Yellow period terminally neutralized the race.
Mayrl’s Allied-Racing Porsche co-driver, Vincent Andronaco, was impressive in the opening stint as he held off Jim Pla through a safety car-impacted stint.
Lachenauer started fifth and worked his way past Pierre-Louis Chovet and Simon Gachet before the first-stint FCY, caused by an AGS Aston Martin stopping on track and extended by an accident involving two competitors under the safety car.
The Racing Spirit of Leman Aston then emerged ahead of Pla’s Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT4 after the pit stops, enabling Bowers to chase down Mayrl for the win.
Race 2 was a lights-to-flag performance from Bowers and Lachenauer, while Alex Fontana and Ivan Jacoma took second for the Porsche Centri Ticino squad.
Bowers received a challenge from Vincent Beltoise heading into Tamburello for the first time, only for Beltoise to be spun around by Erwin Bastard, causing a safety car.
Bowers kept Bastard behind him at the restart and his lead was given further security when the Sainteloc Audi driver received a 10-second penalty for turning Beltoise around.
Bowers handed over to Lachenauer, whose win was confirmed when another safety car ran the clock down, while a stop early in the pit window from Jacoma saw Porsche Centri Ticino jump from sixth to second.
Second GT2 European Season Kicks Off
Different Audi R8 LMS GT2s won the two races at Imola that launched the second season of the Fanatec GT2 European Series.
Am competitor Henry Hassid took an outright victory in the opener for LP Racing, before Stienes Longin and Nicolas Saelens combined to win Race 2 for PK Carsport.
Hassid, a former European Le Mans Series competitor, was running third in the opening stint of Race 1 but applied some strong individual lap times during the pit window to bring himself closer to the top two.
The Frenchman shot past Michael Doppelmayr as the early race-leading Audi driver exited the pits, before overtaking Gianluca Giorgi’s Ebimotors Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport for the win with seven minutes to go.
Longin and Saelens prevailed in the second 50-minute race from pole, bouncing back from a retirement on Saturday.
Longin controlled the opening stint for PK but it was High Class Racing Audi driver Aurelijus Rusteika who emerged from the driver swaps as the leader, courtesy of Michael Vergers’ pace before bringing the car in.
Saelens went to work restoring PK Carsport’s position and a made move on Rusteika coming out of Rivazza with 15 minutes remaining to seal the overall honors.
High Class Racing’s Brabham BT63 GT2 finished ninth and sixth at the start of its first full-length GT2 European Series campaign.
After two races, Vergers and Rusteika – who finished third in Race 1 – lead the Pro-Am standings by a single point over Longin and Saelens.
News & Notes
***Scuderia Ravetto & Ruberti is working on a GT3 program and last week conducted its first test with a new Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 at Cremona. The Italian team co-run by Paolo Ruberti and Manfredi Ravetto is planning an international program with the car, while its Ferrari Challenge program will concentrate on the Italian GT Championship.
***Former British GT4 Pro-Am champions Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman will move up to the championship’s GT3 class this year, driving a McLaren 720S GT3 run by Paddock Motorsport. The team has also entered a McLaren 570S GT4 for Ashley Marshall and Moh Ritson.
***2004 Rolex 24 at Daytona winner and multiple Le Mans class podium finisher Andy Pilgrim has joined the GT America powered by AWS series for Bronze-rated drivers. Pilgrim will get behind the wheel of a SKI Autosports Ferrari. The SKI team is run by Phil Creighton and owned by Kent Hussey.
“We had a great time with the Ferrari in International GT last year, I’m so excited we’re heading to the SRO GT America series,” Pilgrim said. “I can’t think of a better team to be with, in this venture. The SKI Autosports team is such a blast to work with, both on and off the race track.”
***Wall Racing has firmed up its Lamborghini crew for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour with Adrian Dietz, Tony D’Alberto, Grant Denyer and David Wall set as the driving quartet.
***The first of B-QUIK Absolute Racing’s four GT3 lineups for the 2022 Thailand Super Series is now known. Team owner Henk Kiks will share an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II with Eshan Pieris. The next TSS season gets underway on June 29-July 3.
***After driving together at the recent winter test, Dexter Mueller and Yannick Mettler have been named as co-drivers at SPS Automotive Performance for the coming International GT Open season.
***KCMG has signed Pablo Sarrazin, the 16-year-old son of former Toyota LMP1 driver Stephane Sarrazin, to its driver development program. Sarrazin will receive tuition from KCMG GT3 regular Edoardo Liberati and will compete in French F4.
On this weekend: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (Long Beach), NLS (Round 2)