Mugello - ITA

Race 2: A race to forget for Swiss Team

Swiss Team left the seventh round of the International Superstars Series at Mugello with a sour taste in its mouth.

Neither of the drivers who turn out for the privateer Swiss squad that fields the Maserati Quattroporte Evos, Andrea Bertolini or Alessandro Pier Guidi, made it to the finish.

Bertolini, who was second and bang in the championship race before Mugello, could not even make it onto the starting grid for race two. The first race had already ended prematurely: a clash with another driver saw him pull onto the run-off area a lap from the end. The damage to his car was serious, with the front left suspension, dampener, hydrostatics and splitter all suffering.

In the second race, Maserati’s official driver actually made it onto the track after the mechanics’ amazing effort to get his Quattroporte Evo ready seemed to have paid off. Then came a leak from the hydrostatics oil tube that put an end to things. The tube had been damaged in the earlier accident in a spot that couldn’t be seen by the team.

Pier Guidi, who had set the second best time in qualifying and had finished on the podium in the first race, saw his race come to an early end this time round. He was shown the black flag after clashing with Luca Rangoni’s Mercedes C63 AMG from Roma Racing Team on lap nine.

Starting from second place, Pier Guidi did brilliantly to overtake the poleman, BMW Italia’s Alberto Cerqui and his BMW M3 E92, to move into the lead. Weighed down by his 20kg handicap after claiming second in race one, he was then caught by Rangoni’s more powerful car; the Mercedes has 70bhp more than the Maserati and did not have a weight handicap.

Then came a great duel between Pier Guidi and Rangoni. The Roma Racing Team driver managed to get the better of Pier Guidi on a couple of occasions, making the most of his better acceleration on uphill stretches and his higher top speeds on the straights. Pier Guidi hit back in the mixed sections thanks to his nimbler, better handling Quattroporte Evo. The two drivers put on a real show but it all came to an end when Pier Guidi collided with another driver at Savelli as he was trying to retake top spot. Race officials decided he was responsible for the crash and showed him the black flag in a move that many considered excessive.

The episode gave Cerqui his second win of the day. In second came his team mate Thomas Biagi with overall leader Luigi Ferrara and his Caal Racing Mercedes C63 AMG coming home seventh.

The result also gave the overall standings a new look. Ferrara is still up front and on 156 points but Bertolini has slipped from second to joint third – on 136 with Biagi – with Cerqui now in second on 145.

With the curtain having come down on Mugello, one positive is that the BMWs are now back in the title running. They were much more competitive in this round after having 20kg taken off their minimum weight, one that is now 90kg less than the Quattroporte Evo’s.

Race 1: Maserati on the podium with Pier Guidi

It was mixed emotions for Maserati in round seven of the Internationals Superstars Series at Mugello.

The two Swiss Team Quattroporte Evos had wildly different fates with one ending up on the podium and the other having to pull out after a clash.

Alessandro Pier Guidi repeated the fine form he had showed in qualifying by placing second behind Alberto Cerqui’s BMW Italia BMW M3 E92, who had started on pole. Pier Guidi drove consistently and was always in second spot. He kept tabs on Cerqui all the way to the end even though the M3 E92 is 90 kg lighter, in line with regulations, as he waited for an error that never came. Pier Guidi also managed to hold off the attacks mounted by the more powerful, bigger-engined and faster Mercedes C63 AMGs.

For Andrea Bertolini, things did not go so well. He started from the back of the grid, in 24th, after his qualifying times were wiped off the slate. This came after his team made a technical error that was picked up on by race officials. So, Bertolini had chase hard and was already in ninth by lap three. This put him just two places down on his title rival in the Mercedes C63 AMG, Luigi Ferrara. Bertolini was then caught up in the middle of the pack, battling with Herbert and Romagnoli.

Bertolini suffered again during a pause in the action after a crash: the race officials did not signal fast enough that the racing to get underway and more than one driver was caught out. To round things off, he was then involved in a collision with Francesco Sini’s Jaguar XF/R5.0, from Ferlito Motors, and broke his front left suspension. He ended his race in the run off area.

The race itself saw Cerqui speed into an early lead. Following him was Pier Guidi and Stefano Gabellini, in the BMW Italia BMW M3 E92. A little later, while Luca Rangoni’s Mercedes C63 AMG was attempting a difficult overtaking move on Pier Guidi’s outside, Gabellini tried to surprise them both on the inside. He failed, lost control and careered into Rangoni; Pier Guidi was lucky not to be caught up in the crash.

So, Cerqui and Pier Guidi were in command and undisturbed up front. Behind them came Pigoli, Sini, Biagi (BMW M3 E92 from BMW Italia) and Ferrara. Bertolini was now in ninth and fighting it out with Riccardo Romagnoli and Johnny Herbert, both in Mercedes C63 AMGs prepared, respectively, by Caal Racing and Romeo Ferraris.

The race’s turning point came at the halfway stage when the action had been stopped so that a car could be moved from the middle of the track. Even though this was signalled on the monitors and to the drivers, the safety car did not come on and, after two laps, the green flag came out to restart the race without any warning.

This meant that Pier Guidi could not carry the attack to Cerqui and that Bertolini was caught out by Michela Cerruti’s burst of speed in the Romeo Ferraris Mercedes C63 AMG. This was to be Pier Guidi’s last chance to put the heat on Cerqui and he finished in second, 3"754 down. Bertolini was left to mount another comeback and climbed up to eighth. This was before his race came to an end after a collision with Sini – who was in seventh, just behind Ferrara. The Jaguar driver closed out the outside line and clashed with the Quattroporte Evo as it was on the attack. Bertolini ended up off the track with a damaged front left suspension.