Race 1

Abu Dhabi - UAE

Cecchellero triumphs on Kuppens’ day

Andrea Cecchellero made Race 1 his own at Yas Marina in what is the sixth round of the Trofeo Maserati. Cecchellero, from Veneto, started from pole and, once he had held off Sbirrazzuoli at the start, had no rivals. However, the loudest cheer of the day came from Renaud Kuppens after he secured the Trofeo Maserati with his fifth spot. With Mac crossing the line in sixth, Kuppens scored his second successive title.

Under clear skies and with high track and air temperatures, the 26-strong grid got off to an energetic start where Segler’s spin was the only notable incident. The German still managed to make it back onto the track without damaging the car but found himself in last position.
In the early stages, Cecchellero was fending off Sbirrazzuoli with Calamia lurking behind them. Behind the Swiss driver came Zamparini, Kuppens, Barde, Simoni, Mac and Cordoni. The top five drivers were putting in decent lap times and a gap soon built up between the leaders and the chasing pack.

Barde’s tough start, where he was bumped from third to sixth, only served to motivate the Frenchman and he set about climbing up the field. With Tani Hanna having to pull out with a mechanical problem, Barde launched a successful attack on Kuppens on lap three and slowly drew closer to Zamparini. The two drivers were side by side and clashed. Zamparini had nowhere to go and had to cut across the chicane as the officials soon unfurled the black and white flag for the Frenchman.

Barde’s problems were not over as Kuppens was closing in but was not within striking range. Behind him Mac was another driver lurking with intent, this time the prey was Simoni. The race was livening up with Barde duelling with Kuppens and Simoni trying to deal with Mac. In the end, Mac edged past Simoni after the Italian made a mistake but Kuppens collided with Barde and dropped to a spot just behind Simoni.

From lap six on, the lap on which Segler was hit with a drive-through for a clash with Nielsen, the drivers alternated in clocking quick laps. First came Calamia with his 2:21.327, then came Sbirrazzuoli on lap 7 (2:21.204), Mac a lap later (2:21.137) and Kuppens on the ninth lap (2:21.058).

Mac was making the most of the goings-on to move into Zamparini’s slipstream. Zamparini, however, wasn’t afraid of using strong-arm tactics to hold off the Dane. Mac was feeling the effects of this treatment and was soon caught and overtaken by Kuppens.
Barde pulled into the pit lane and retired one lap from the chequered flag while Cecchellero went on to finish ahead of Sbirrazzuoli, Calamia, Zamparini, Kuppens, Mac, Simoni, Cordoni, Cullum and Delli Guanti.

Thanks to his fifth place, Renaud Kuppens was crowned Trofeo Maserati champion in a repeat of last year’s success. Having claimed the Trofeo Europa, the Belgian controlled things in Abu Dhabi and exploited Mac’s bad luck to seize the title.

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