Superstars International Series 2012
ROUND 3, Donington: Maserati and Herbert in third
Local hero Johnny Herbert appeared in the Maserati Quattroporte Evo in the third round of the International Superstars Series at Donington. Herbert was representing the private Swiss Team alongside the squad’s ever-present driver, Mauro Cesari.
The Englishman was taking his turn in the car after two other ex-F1 drivers, Mika Salo and Christian Fittipaldi, had driven it at Monza and Imola, respectively. The team headed by Guido Bonfiglio has adopted the policy of alternating star drivers to attract attention to the series and make it more spectacular.
Going into the race, Herbert had announced that a podium spot was his target. On his home track he didn’t disappoint and took a fine third spot in Race 1. Third was the best that he could have hoped for given the embarrassing superiority of the Audi RS5s that occupied the top two places. The Race 2 grid was based on the finishing order of Race 1, with the positions inverted, and saw Herbert claim sixth. He had to work hard to come back from the back of the pack after being nudged into a spin by a fellow driver.
For Cesari, the Donington weekend was a struggle. In Race 1 he didn’t do as well as he expected after the technical problems encountered in practice. Cesari started on 15th and finished 13th after being held up by a crash ahead of him. In Race 2 the Italian brought home a solid 9th place after starting from 13th. He showed that he was improving all the time; Cesari only started competing in 2007 and this is his first season in a car as competitive as the Quattroporte Evo.
In the end it was the Audi RS5s that dominated with a one-two in both races pocketed by Morbidelli and Kristofferson. The result again proved how the balance-of-performance regulations favour the cars from Ingolstadt; the cars’ track performance has not yet been levelled out.
RACE 1: Herbert steers clear of trouble to land Maserati’s first podium finish.
In Race 1 Herbert, 4th on the grid, coped well with the early exchanges as he was sandwiched between two Jaguars, driven by Onslow-Cole and Pigoli. When the Jaguars had complained of technical problems after straying of the track, Herbert calmly slotted into 3rd. He could do nothing but watch as the Audis driven by Morbidelli and Kristofferson placed 1st and 2nd. Cesari made it up to 13th from a starting position of 15th.
RACE 2: Herbert places 7th after being sent spinning to the back
Starting on sixth given the Race 1 finishing order, Herbert was sent into an early spin by Onslow-Cole. Now at the back of the field, the ex-F1 driver produced a sterling comeback to finish 7th. Herbert’s battling performance was matched by Cesari who started 13th and finished 9th. The duel between Herbert and former champion, Biagi, caught the eye. In terms of the result, the Audis of Morbidelli and Kristofferson again commanded.