Free practice

Imola - ITA

Gai, storming finish in free practice

Turning up the speed dial at the end of the first free practice session was enough to give Stefano Gai top spot. He closed out the forty-minute workout in a time of 1’54”628.

The Rossocorsa driver, who last year secured the GT4 class driving a Trofeo, edged out Nicolò Piancastelli by just .316. The Romagna driver was on his home circuit and set his best time on lap fourteen, just before the chequered flag was shown.

David Baldi, who had been leading up until that point, slipped to third with his 1’55”075 that was set on lap 11. The Tuscan had shown fine form last season at Mugello and proved he also has what it takes to cope with the ups and downs of Santerno.

Behind the front three, within a second of each other, were Manuel Villa (1’55”337) and the Sbirrazzuoli/Chionna crew (1’55”519), the first of the GT4s.

In a session that was held in variable conditions but in which the expected rain held off, the top ten featured some familiar names from last year.

Among them was sixth-placed Gaetano Ardagna Perez (1’56”101) and Emanuele Smurra, tenth in 1’58”050. Taking up the places in between was the second-ranked GT4 driver, Lorenzo Casé in his Swiss Team car, Dutch debutant Mathijs Bakker, and Olivier Doeblin, driving a Scuderia Jolly Club GT4.

Outside the top ten, the only cars who managed to finish within 4” of first was the guest pairing of Mosca/Benusiglio (who will not pick up any championship points) and Alexander Wensky. The other competitors used the session to get to know the track and the car; not everyone took part in the pre-season tests.


Free practice 1

1 99Stefano GaiGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:54.628
2 3Nicolò PiancastelliGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:54.944
3 23David BaldiGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:55.075
4 24Manuel VillaGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:55.337
5 30Sbirrazzuoli - ChionnaGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:55.519
6 25Gaetano Ardagna PerezGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:56.101
7 36Lorenzo CaséGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:56.855
8 7Mathijs BakkerGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:57.399
9 35Olivier DoeblinGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:57.824
10 28Emanuele SmurraGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:58.050

Baldi, a leader’s consistency

David Baldi was quickest in the second free practice session held in late afternoon at Santerno, Imola.

The Tuscan had already attracted the spotlight in the non-official shakedown and closed the forty-minute session in 1’54”584.

The ex-Speed Hillclimb champion set a series of fast laps, consistency that makes him one of the favourites for Sunday’s events. Another driver with a good chance of victory is Stefano Gai who was again quick in session two and the only driver able to pressure Baldi. The Lombardy driver put in a time of 1’54”707, with Nicolò Piancastelli in third and .560 off Baldi.

The driver from Romagna confirmed his form at Imola and appeared to be holding something back for tomorrow’s qualifying.

Manuel Villa again placed fourth but this time bettered his lap time. The eclectic driver from Albenga headed the AF Corse duo of Sbirrazzuoli/Chionna, once more the quickest of the drivers competing in the Team championship. Next up came Gaetano Ardagna Perez (1’55”887), Lorenzo Casé (1’56”143), Mathijs Bakker (1’57”323), Emanuele Smurra (1’57”479) and Olivier Doeblin (1’57”956).

Compared to session one, the lap times set by the second batch of drivers improved. This was especially true of Anita Toth who lapped four seconds quicker.

The first qualifying session will be held tomorrow from 13.55 – 14.15 and will decide the grid order for Race 1; the order for Race 2 will depend on the outcome of the second session, timed for 18.30-18.50.


Free practice 2

1 23David BaldiGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:54.584
2 99Stefano GaiGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:54.707
3 3Nicolò PiancastelliGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:55.144
4 24Manuel VillaGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:55.209
5 30Sbirrazzuoli - ChionnaGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:55.454
6 25Gaetano Ardagna PerezGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:55.887
7 36Lorenzo CaséGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:56.143
8 7Mathijs BakkerGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:57.323
9 28Emanuele SmurraGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:57.479
10 35Olivier DoeblinGranTurismo MC Trofeo1:57.956

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