Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gianni Morbidelli dodges the traps of the fastest track in Superstars

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

Gianni Morbidelli dodges the traps of the fastest track in the Superstars schedule to grab 4th place in the championship table

Audi Sport Italia-built RS 5 turns out best car in Monza opener--beyond clean-sweeping AMG Mercedeses...

Audi Sport Italia's quattros haven't claimed a win at ultra-quick Monza since 2008, when the SWR-run Superstars was still a fledging series. The kick-off to the 10th running of the increasingly popular V8 championship may not have stopped the win drought, but the superb form shown by 4-time champ Gianni Morbidelli and the winter work carried out by Emilio Radaelli's outfit on the RS 5 helped the No. 45 Audi to hit its stride sooner than anyone expected, posting two 4th places that were the best effort put in by any driver-car pairing--but the bulky AMG Mercedeses of team mates Tonio Liuzzi and Thomas Biagi (who split wins today) and Gigi Ferrara, that sweeped podium spots and all sit ahead of Morbidelli in the table after Monza.

A 16-car field greeted a healthy crowd that convened at the 5,793-meter historic venue in spite of gray skies and local traffic restricitions. At the start Morbidelli could not fend off the charge from Andrea Bacci's Mercedes and Francesco Sini's Camaro and was shuffled down the order from his P4 starting spot, but the former F.1 driver did not lose track of them on the opening lap and started breathing down on their necks. When the duelling duo wound up embroiling itself at the Ascari corner on lap 3 the RS 5 leapfrogged both claiming P5. Then Morbidelli set up a chase to Jaguar’s Andrea Larini, managing to claim P4 from the Tuscan driver on lap 7. Arather uneventful spell was in store for Morbidelli, as the AMG Mercedes threesome on top had built a comfortable 12-second cushion on the lone 4WD surviving car, which could not threaten the Swabian sweep, led by pole sitter Tonio Liuzzi in front of team mate Thomas Biagi and Gigi Ferrara—at the wheel of the sole three-pointed-star coupe.
Ferdinando Geri's maiden race in the four-ring camp was not as lucky as the Rome-born driver had just the time to acclimatise to a entertaining dogfight with fellow gentlemen drivers Francesco Ascani and Gianni Giudici that an engine problem forced him to reach the pit lane at the half-race mark. 

Morbidelli started from the inside of row 3 on the reversed grid of Race 2 and was stuck in a chaotic start, dropping to 10th place on Lap 1, as the Top4 was an all AMG Mercedes-affair. It took just five laps to the Camozzi-liveried Audi to bite the tail of Francesco Sini, then the best non-Mercedes driver and the former F.1 driver successfully dived on the inside of the Solaris Camaro at Lesmo corner to take over from Sini as best of the rest. But Morbidelli did not think that he could call it a day on P5 and chased hard Andrea Bacci's C63. The warring duo ran nose-to-tail around the mid-race mark, then on lap eleven, Morbidelli dived inside the CAAL-built C63 when Bacci let him the door open, swiping the rival. Morbidelli went safe home in P4, but there was more drama in store for Audi Sport Italia, as Geri's car after having battled to sneak into the Top10 had to reach the pit lane early, with two laps to go due to a contact that triggered bodywork trouble. None the less, Geri had put in quicker laps on Sunday than on Saturday, showing that his driving has a fair amount of room for more improvement, something that he'll be keen to confirm at Brno in mid-May.

Sunday April 7, 2013. 
Round 1 - Monza, Italy:
1. Tonio Liuzzi (AMG Mercedes) 14 laps, 27:05.042s, average speed 179.7 kph
2. Thomas Biagi (AMG Mercedes) +0.589s
3. Gigi Ferrara (AMG Mercedes) +13.639s
5. Francesco Sini (Chevrolet) +34.423s

Sunday April 7, 2013.
Round 2- Monza, Italy:
1. Thomas Biagi (AMG Mercedes) 14 laps, 27:13.157, average speed 178.8 kph
2. Tonio Liuzzi (AMG Mercedes) + 2.277s
3. Gigi Ferrara (AMG Mercedes) + 5.930s
5. Andrea Bacci (AMG Mercedes) + 20.791s
13. FERDINANDO GERI (AUDI RS5) - 2 laps.

Drivers points standings after 2 rounds:
1. Liuzzi 42 points;
2. Biagi 39 pts.;
3. Ferrara 28 pts.;
4. MORBIDELLI 24 pts.;
5. Bacci 20 pts.;
6. Sini 16 pts.;
7. Berton 8 pts.;
8. Ascani and "Diabolik" 6 pts.;
10. Benedetti 5 pts.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia