Race 1

Imola - ITA

Lorenzini thrills and flags

Luca Lorenzini, in the Bowers & Wilkins VIP Car, claimed Race 1 in Trofeo Maserati at Imola. The 30-minute event was a roller-coaster ride all the way to the finish.

The drivers lined up under a blazing sun with temperatures nudging 35°C and with Fascicolo bringing up the rear after swapping his tyres.

Even though it was a tight squeeze at Tamburello, things got off to a steady start with Sbirrazzuoli holding off Lorenzini, and an aggressive Simoni. Next came Kuppens, Garelli, Gardelli and Varini. Kuppens had the bit between his teeth and swept past Simoni at Acque Minerali to move into Lorenzini’s slipstream. The German hounded Lorenzini and eventually got through at Ravizza on lap 3, soon followed by Simoni. However Simoni, from Ferrara, made a mistake in straying wide coming out of the second Ravizza, allowing Lorenzini to snatch back his spot at Tamburello. The two then really went at it, especially at Villeneuve where Simoni overtook on lap four.

A little earlier, Varini, who had been in seventh, missed his braking point at Villeneuve and dropped down to thirteenth.

On lap five, Sbirrazzuoli held a 1”6 lead over Kuppens, 4”6 over Simoni, 6”2 over Lorenzini, 7”2 over Garelli and 7”8 over Gardelli. Garelli and Gardelli’s tough fight was attracting the attention of the race officials but, in the end, they decided that their clashes were par for the course.

In midfield, Moroccan driver Ismail Sbai, who had been driving brilliantly, careered off; in the meantime, Fascicolo was continuing his comeback from last spot. He was now holding fourteenth after overtaking Herpell and profiting from Sorti’s error when braking for Tamburello.

Up front, Kuppens was lapping fast and was right in Sbirrazzuoli’s slipstream. Right behind him Simoni was by far the quickest driver on the track, stopping the clock at 1’53”830 and surprising Kuppens on lap nine with a splendid overtaking move.

While Denny’s race hopes ended in the sand at Ravizza, the race really came alive on lap ten. Simoni was by now shadowing Sbirrazzuoli’s every move and attacked at Tamburello. The Monaco-based driver was having trouble with his tyres and ran off the track. When he came back on, he forced Simoni into doing the same. Behind them Kuppens tried to sneak through but also ended up in the sand and was overtaken by guest driver Lorenzini. When the dust had settled, it was Simoni out in front and trying to pull away. His bid for victory didn’t last long as he strayed too wide at Ravizza, opening the door for Sbirrazzuoli, Lorenzini and Kuppens.

Simoni tried to make up for things straight away and went after Kuppens at Tamburello but things didn’t go as he planned and he clipped the Belgian (who managed to continue) and smashed into the barriers. Luckily Simoni climbed out unhurt but his race was over. Now the way was clear for Cedric Sbirrazzuoli.

Varini was now in eighth but his tyres were suffering; he kept locking up along the 4.9 kilometre circuit. The driver from San Marino was picked off by the other drivers and eventually dropped out.

One lap from the end came the last of the action when Sbirrazzuoli, having spotted the yellow flag, lifted off the gas and was overtaken by Lorenzini. However, the move was legal as it came when the green flag had been shown. This meant that Lorenzini, in the Bowers & Wilkins VIP Car, went on to take the win from Cedric Sbirrazzuoli (AF Corse), Renaud Kuppens (Konvex Racing) and a superb Stefano Garelli. Three seconds down was Andrea Gardelli. Youssaf El Marnissi took sixth from Andrea Dromedari, Giuseppe Fascicolo and Daniel Waszczinski. Tenth went to Larbi Tadlaoui, with Andreas Segler and a convincing Guenther Forster behind him.

Adrien De Leener just beat Dane, Per Nielsen, to fourteenth while Mads Rasmussen, another Dane, finished one spot up on the lapped Marcel Pawlicek.

  • Pirelli