Trofeo World Series 2012 - Infineon
ROUND 5, INFINEON: Kuppens triumphs in the USA!
Renaud Kuppens put himself in a virtually impregnable position in the fight for the Maserati Trofeo World Series world title. Already winner of the European title, awarded after the first four meetings, all held in Europe, at the end of the previous round, the Belgian driver dominated the fifth event of the season, at the Infineon Raceway, in California, run on the endurance format of two sprint races of 30 minutes plus one lap and one race of 50 minutes plus one lap.
Kuppens secured pole position in both qualifying sessions and victory in race 2 and race 3 at the prestigious American circuit. At the end of the weekend, after which he had a 24 point lead over his nearest rivals, Sernagiotto-Fascicolo, he declared: “I love the Infineon Raceway and I think I proved that this weekend: I was faster than ever before. After my disappointment at not finishing the first race, I think I really set the record straight with victory in the other two. The atmosphere has also been great. During the race I could see the stewards cheering me on. Now I don’t have to do much to win the World title, but I’m not used to doing calculations and I try to take things one step at a time. Two more races in China and then we’ll see: may the best man win.”
It was only in race 1 that Kuppens failed to collect any points: while leading, he was put out of competition by a puncture, leaving victory to Alex Popow, a one-off guest. The Venezuelan was the other big star of the meeting at the Infineon Raceway - a circuit which he knows very well as a regular key competitor in the Ferrari Challenge USA - finishing sixth in race 2 and just behind the Belgian in race 3.
The fifth race of the Maserati Trofeo World Series also welcomed two special guests, who raced as a team: Patrick Dempsey and Greg Tracy. The former is a successful actor, star of the very popular Grey's Anatomy series, and a respected GT driver, who has also taken part in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Greg Tracy, a famous Hollywood stuntman, is also a six-time winner of the famous Pikes Peak motorcycle hill climb.
The work of the drivers and the entire squad made everything more special. The Maserati is a car that thrills.
RACE 1: Popow wins debut race after Kuppens retires with a puncture
Victory in race 1 for Popow on his debut, ahead of Ragazzi, Dromedari and Merjech, another debut driver. Actor Patrick Dempsey, a one-off guest, also surprised onlookers by finishing sixth. On the other hand, Kuppens failed to collect any points: while dominating the race with a 4-second lead, he was forced to retire with a puncture. There were fears for the safety of Kratz, after he collided with a wall, but he walked away unharmed.
RACE 2: Kuppens records victory in spite of a mistake and a collision with spin
In race 2 Kuppens returned to winning ways but with more than one hairy moment. He immediately took the lead ahead of Sernagiotto, Van Overbeek, Simoni, Popow, Pigoli and Denny, but then made a mistake, allowing Sernagiotto to catch up. The two then made contact and both span, but were able to continue the race in the same positions, enabling the Belgian to go on to win, while Van Overbeek finished third.
RACE 3: Kuppens scores two wins again and tightens hold on world title
The endurance race began with an accident involving Tracy and Sbirrazzuoli, which required the safety car to be called out. After the restart, Kuppens pressed home his advantage, followed at some distance by Popow, Dromedari and Simoni. After the pit stop phase, the Belgian was even further ahead of Popow and went on to win unchallenged, while Pigoli and Ragazzi, who had taken over from Dromedari and Simoni, collided, costing Ragazzi a drive-through penalty.