Imola - ITA

Tough start for Swiss Team

It was a difficult start for Swiss Team's Maserati in the second round of the International Superstars Series at Imola.

After the promising displays in practice on the Romagna circuit, in qualifying not all of the Quattroporte Evo's potential was seen. In the timed session, Christian Fittipaldi, the Swiss squad’s most experienced driver, posted the ninth best time of 1’51"387 with Mauro Cesari clocking the 14th best time of 1'52"544.

Before heading to Imola, the Swiss team overseen by Guido Bonfiglio, with Giuseppe Angiulli's technical supervision, ran a test session at Varano. This was to check on the modifications made to the car after the season's opener at Monza. The shakedown gave Christian Fittipaldi a taste of the car, seeing as he is making his debut in the Quattroporte Evo and in Superstars, and also allowed Mauro Cesari to clock up some time behind the wheel; the Spoleto driver only began racing in 2007.

Swiss Team set very encouraging times at Varano and these were confirmed in the two free practice sessions at Imola with Fittipaldi setting the 4th fastest time of 1'52"621 and the 5th of 1'51"229. Cesari also improved from 1'54"211 to 1'53"291.

In a qualifying session where the leading times were a full second quicker than in practice, the Brazilian was unable to kick on. It might have been down to not getting the best out of his tyres or down to the traffic that was on the track during his fast lap, factors which saw him post a time over a tenth slower than in Free Practice 2. Cesari, Swiss Team's Italian driver, improved by .7 but was also held up by other drivers.

As expected, Audi did well. On mixed and fast tracks like Imola, the Audi RS5s can make the most of their all-wheel drive and they duly took the top time courtesy of Johan Kristoffersson, in 1'49"548. He headed Andrea Larini's Mercedes C63 AMG (1'49"677) and Thomas Biagi's BMW Me E92 (1'49"759). Larini's performance was surprising as the C63 AMG has a big, powerful engine and is less at home on mixed circuits. On the other hand, the stint put in by the M3 E92 was less of a shock as it is the lightest and most agile car in Superstars.

In the two scheduled races, Fittipaldi and Cesari will be counting on the Quattroporte's well-balanced set up, one that gets the best out of the tyres. This should see them put in consistent lap times and climb the field. Race 2 could be the one where things happen for the Evo as the starting grid is made up of the first eight finishers in Race 1 but with the positions inverted.