Spa - BEL

Nick Catsburg

Sbirrazzuoli completes a fine weekend for AF Corse

Given the rain that had bucketed down over the previous two days, it was difficult to place too much faith in forecasts of 30°C for Sunday. However, when race time came around, the sun was blazing. Unlike Race 1, where all the real action came at the end, Race 2 was action-packed from start to finish.

Sbirrazzuoli got off to a quick start but so did Baldi, who immediately attacked him. Sbirrazzuoli had not driven on slicks before this weekend, unlike provisional championship leader Baldi, but he still did a decent job of defending his position at La Source and going into Eau Rouge. Baldi was hungry for a win after the disappointment of Race 1 and so went raiding again at the end of the Kemmel straight.


Unfortunately for the Tuscan, he left his braking too late, forcing Villa, who was tracking him, into a mistake. They left the track, cut across the first of the two Les Combes curves, and careered back on at speed. Nicolò Piancastelli was lining up to take the successive curve and had not seen Baldi or Villa come back on. So, when turning in, he collided with Baldi and set off a chain reaction that also saw Villa crash out. The drivers walked away and, even though their cars were not in good shape, they held up well in the impact with the barriers.


The incident meant that the safety car was called for. Mathijs Bakker, holding second after the crash, spun and ended up at the very back of the field. The whole pack then filed behind the safety car for the fifteen minutes that were needed to clear the track. When things got underway again, Sbirrazzuoli was leading from Ardagna, Wauters, Maddalena and Andrina Gugger. Like he did in the morning, Wauters pushed that little bit too hard and went into a 360 coming downhill at Pouhon. The Belgian musician managed to keep going but was now in ninth, behind Segler. Meanwhile, Mathijs Bakker was a man on a mission and was soon in Wauters’ slipstream. Wauters’ mistake allowed Gugger to close in and attack Maddalena. The private battle between the two ended with the Swiss driver getting the better of the Italian. Behind them, Bakker and Wauters had found a way past Waszczinski and then went head-to-head. Eventually it was Bakker, with a splendid move on the outside of the Bus Stop chicane, who came out on top.


However, the Dutchman’s joy and potential hard-fought points disappeared when he lost control at La Source; the mistake saw him slip back down the field. As the race headed to a close, Guy Fawe, who had driven a solid race, hounded and overtook Maddalena for fourth. The Italian was then outdone by Wauters just two laps from the end. So, the chequered flag was taken by Cedric Sbirrazzuoli who, thanks to setting the fastest lap time of 2’39”847 (lap 8) gave AF Corse a bag full of points at Spa. Behind the Monaco driver, who claimed his second overall Trofeo win of the season (the other came at Monza), was Gaetano Ardagna (first of the Trofeo drivers), Andrina Gugger, Guy Fawe, Kris Wauters and Leonardo Maddalena. Next up came Mathijs Bakker, Andreas Segler, Daniel Waszczinski and Guenther Forster. Bringing up the rear were Adrien De Leener, Anita Toth, Bela Csiszer and Carlo Romani. The next round in the Trofeo Maserati GranTurismo MC will take place at Donington on 17 July.

Catsburg lays down the law in Race 1

The day’s opening race took place under cloudy skies. There was no risk of rain and, on a dry surface, the Trofeo drivers were able to take on the Belgian circuit on slicks for the first time this weekend.

At the green light, the pack filed through the fearsome Eau-Rouge with Catsburg leading from Villa, Ardagna and Piancastelli but it wasn’t long before Piancastelli had been overhauled by Baldi at Les Combes.


The provisional championship leader made a mistake at Radillon and Piancastelli jumped on it. The drivers were bunched up but Catsburg seemed to have what it took to pull away. Over the early laps, the drivers tried to find the limit of their cars on the dry track but had a bit of trouble doing so: Kris Wauters lost control of his Trofeo at Pouhon but managed to stop it from crashing into the barriers with some magnificent counter-steering. Up front, Catsburg was using all his inside knowledge of the circuit to build a healthy lead. After just two laps he was over 6.6 seconds up on Villa and almost 10 seconds up on third-placed Ardagna.


Things were exciting in the middle of the pack with Maddalena and Vleugels fighting it out for seventh. The Italian eventually got the better of the Belgian by passing him cleanly at the end of the Kemmel straight. One lap later, this section was the setting for another attack, this time it was Nicolò Piancastelli chasing Gaetano Ardagna. The young driver from Romagna first loomed in the Venezuelan’s mirrors and then swept past him into third. Ardagna’s response was immediate and he began cranking up the pressure on his rival. Behind them David Baldi was playing the role of the interested onlooker. He was tracking the two drivers ahead of him but then fell back after having some trouble overtaking a back marker.


Laps nine and ten saw the first real significant events in the race: Waszczinski was forced to pull out when his right rear suspension broke and then Raf Vleugels was hit with a drive-through by officials for exceeding the speed limit. However, a puncture meant that he retired before he ever reached the pit lane. While all this was going on, the battle between Piancastelli and Ardagna was moving into a decisive phase. The Venezuelan clipped Piancastelli at Bus Stop, sending him into a spin. Even if the contact was slight, the officials ruled that it was serious enough for Ardagna to be slapped with a drive-through.


Baldi made the most of the incident to move into third. The Tuscan continued to push on and this asked a lot of his tyres. At times he had to struggle to control the car. Ardagna, who appeared to have kept his tyres in better shape, caught and overtook Baldi at Les Combes while Piancastelli made the most of the duel to close in on them. Kris Wauters, after spinning early on and following a close fight with Alessandro Chionna, leading the Team series drivers, ended his race early when he left the track at Blanchimont. When Ardagna pulled into the pits for his drive-through on lap 14, Piancastelli seized the chance to get past Baldi. Baldi hit back right away with a fantastic move that saw him take the inside line at Pouhon to edge ahead once more. Piancastelli could only sit back and plan his next attack.


Race officials put paid to Leonardo Maddalena's hopes of catching an amazing Adrinna Gugger, in sixth, when he was handed a drive-through for speeding. So, three laps from the chequered flag, Catsburg was holding a comfortable lead, followed by Villa, Baldi, Piancastelli, Ardagna and Andrina Gugger. With a lap to go, Piancastelli went for it: he moved into Baldi's slipstream leaving Radillon and pulled alongside him on the Kemmel straight.


Baldi tried to slam the door shut and moved right, forcing Piancastelli to put two wheels on the grass just a few metres from the braking point. From there it was impossible to the young Romagna driver to slow down enough and he clashed with the series leader, sending them both into a spin. Both managed to carry on but Baldi, maybe with his car still feeling the effects of the spin, lasted only another two curves before ending his race up against the barriers. Catsburg went on to take the chequered flag 51 seconds up on Manuel Villa; a convincing second. Third spot went to Nicolò Piancastelli, followed by Gaetano Ardagna and an excellent Andrina Gugger.


Behind the Swiss driver came Leonardo Maddalena, AF Corse's Alessandro Chionna (the first of the Team drivers), David Baldi (who classified despite not crossing the finish line), Andreas Segler and Guenther Forster. Bringing up the rear was Bela Csiszer, Carlo Romani and Anita Toth. Nick Catsburg also set the race's fastest lap, on lap 3, with 2'33"528. This gave him and his partner, Mathijs Bakker who will line up in Race 2, an extra point to go with the one earned yesterday for taking pole.

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