Superstars International Series 2012
ROUND 4, Mugello: Maserati and Herbert shine
It was joy and pain for Maserati in round four of the International Superstars Series, held at Mugello. Johnny Herbert was called back into the Swiss Team Quattroporte Evo to pick up from where he left off at Donington. In the last round Herbert had claimed a third spot; the team’s first podium of the season.
The English star was among the main players at Mugello from Qualifying on. In the session he kept pace with the lead drivers and just missed out on pole by two tenths.
Herbert’s good form carried over into Race 1 where he went head-to-head with Andrea Larini from the off. He posted the race’s quickest lap and finished second, just 0"421 down on the bigger-engined and more powerful Mercedes C63 AMG.
Herbert put on a fine display. He got the most out of the Quattroporte Evo and took it to its limit. He slid into most curves to gain as much time as possible in the mixed sections of the track, stretches where the car’s balance and set up are a bonus. However, whenever he pulled alongside Larini, his rival’s acceleration and higher top speed gave him the edge.
Unfortunately, Race 2 ended too soon for Herbert after a mid-race crash between two rivals saw him KO’d. This meant that the team’s other Quattroporte Evo, driven by Mauro Cesari, drew the spotlight. Cesari fought like a lion to climb from an initial tenth to finish sixth.
Swiss Team, under the stewardship of Giuseppe Angiulli, again showed just how competitive the Quattroporte Evo is even though it is not in the running for the title - won for the team in 2011 by Andrea Bertolini. This year the aim is to up the excitement levels and so a parade of ex-F1 drivers have taken turns in the car. So far Mika Salo, Christian Fittipaldi and Johnny Herbert have appeared.
RACE 1: Herbert attacks Larini and finishes just 0"42 off the pace
Starting on fourth, Herbert did well to stay out of trouble early on before the inevitable crashes came along and the race was held up. When things got going again, the ex-F1 driver moved quickly into Larini’s slipstream while also keeping Liuzzi at arm’s length. Herbert then stepped on the gas to set the race’s fastest lap and attack Larini. Things were tight until the very last lap with Herbert ending up just 0"421 down on the winner.
RACE 2: Sixth for a tough Cesari after Herbert floored by a crash
The Race 2 grid was based on the finishing order for Race 1 but with the places inverted. This meant that Herbert lined up on 7th. In the race for the leading places, Larini and Pigoli came together and Herbert was caught up in the fallout with a broken suspension. Keeping the Maserati flag flying was Cesari. His grit saw him come through a series of private battles and he finished 6th with the win going to Sini.