Trofeo World Series 2012 - Imola

Renaud Kuppens

ROUND 3, IMOLA: Kuppens tops Trofeo standings

Renaud Kuppens achieved the biggest haul at the third event in the Maserati Trofeo World Series at Imola which, like the previous event at Portimao, used the endurance format, with two races of 30 minutes plus one lap and one of 50 minutes plus 1 lap. The Belgian, already triumphant in Spain due to his success in the endurance race, the most demanding of the three, proved the most consistent driver again on the Italian track. Aided by the mishaps of some of his closest rivals, he became the new championship leader, opening up a gap of 20 points over Giorgio Sernagiotto - Giuseppe Fascicolo and 21 over Alan Simoni - Riccardo Ragazzi.

Kuppens first won two third places and then ended the weekend in fine style by winning the endurance race again. Victory in the sprint races went to Luca Lorenzini, a one-off ‘guest’ rider, and Ragazzi respectively.

Kuppens was one of the most impressive drivers going right back to the practice sessions, together with Simoni-Ragazzi, who won pole position in the second qualifying session. Cedric Sbirrazzuoli was quickest in the first session with Simoni recording a good third-fastest time.

However, in the races themselves Simoni proved rather too reckless. In race 1 he made a mistake while trying to overtake Kuppens, hitting his car and spinning before colliding hard with the crash barriers. In race 3 he had another accident and ended up in the gravel trap; Ragazzi was then issued a stop&go penalty after contact with Sernagiotto.

Sbirrazzuoli, racing with co-driver Alessandro Chionna, also paid the price for some mistakes: in race 1 he was leading but in the final stages he misunderstood the stewards’ flag signals and allowed Lorenzini to claim victory, while in race 3 he and his team-mate were awarded a drive-through penalty for an offence during the driver-changeover pit stop.

Riccardo Romagnoli and Edo Varini, on the other hand, made one error each: Varini missing a bend in race 1 and Romagnoli spinning and then withdrawing in race 2.

I am pleased and the adrenalin buzz takes away the tiredness and the crazy heat. It is an incredible feeling.

Stefano Garelli

RACE 1: Lorenzini wins due to error by leader Sbirrazzuoli at end of race

At the start of race 1, Sbirrazzuoli, starting in pole, fought off Lorenzini and Simoni, who were followed by Kuppens, Garelli, Gardelli and Varini. Simoni and Kuppens then started to attack; the Italian overtook the Swiss driver and went into the lead but then made a mistake, as did the Belgian. This left Sbirrazzuoli back in the lead, but in the final stages he misunderstood the stewards’ flag signals and allowed Lorenzini to claim victory.

Race 1

Race 2 - Press conference

RACE 2: Ragazzi wins, fighting off Sernagiotto, held back by a lapped driver

Although Ragazzi led from start to finish, the outcome of race 2 was in doubt until the end. Behind him, a duel immediately developed between Kuppens and Romagnoli with Sernagiotto, in their wake, soon taking advantage of the fight between them to gain first third then second place. Sernagiotto then also tried to attack Ragazzi, but was slowed down by a lapped driver. This gave Ragazzi his second win of the season, ahead of Sernagiotto, Kuppens, Pigoli, Venier and Garelli.

RACE 3: Kuppens dominates the endurance race, thanks in part to rivals’ mishaps

Kuppens again dominated the endurance race. At the start, the Belgian surged past Simoni, who made contact with Pigoli’s car and ended up in the gravel trap. Kuppens then continued to head the field, in front of Sbirrazzuoli, Romagnoli, Lorenzini and Garelli. His supremacy was consolidated after the pit stop phase, thanks in part to his rivals’ mishaps. Kuppens therefore won by a good margin over Dromedari and Ragazzi, who had moved ahead of Pigoli and Simoni.

Renaud Kuppens