Sunday, June 23, 2013

Superstars: Gianni Morbidelli lands first Audi pole position at Zolder

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

Gianni Morbidelli lands first Audi pole position since September 2012. Homeboy Laurens Vanthoor experiences mixed fortunes in Superstars debut


Gianni Morbidelli has taken today pole position at Zolder under grey skies for round 7 of the International Superstars Series in his Camozzi-liveried RS 5, after a daring late charge that left former F.1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi 4-tenths of a second behind.Morbidelli, who was on a pole position drought since the summer of 2012, hopes to kick start his championship hopes in Belgium--a country where he scored a double Superstars victory at Spa last year. Moreover, Zolder is famously a 4WD-friendly venue and the Sunday look full of promise for the Audi camp.

Audi Sport Italia's newcomer Laurens Vanthoor -- sitting on car No 46 replacing Ferdinando Geri who has stood down from the series after three meetings -- had an outstanding morning, claiming P1 in his first ever run in the RS 5, then claiming P2 in the second practice session behind Liuzzi. Unfortunately he could only put in one lap before pulling over between turn 3 and 4 as his RS 5 was felled by the input shaft. In spite of having to start from row 8 his impressive poise is a guarantee that on Sunday the home crowd will be sure to get something to cheer for.

The morning had not been as happy and smooth for Morbidelli as it had been for his one-off team mate. The Pesaro-born driver had claimed P2 in FP1 but fell down the order in FP2 as his rear diff gave good reason to the team crew to have it tweaked before qualifying. The 30-minute session saw Morbidelli on top on a regular basis, early on briefly heading Raffaele Giammaria's AMG Mercedes by 0.015s. Then it was Gigi Ferrara's Swabian coupe turn to lead the tables, 0.161s ahead of the Audi man. But it was then the sedan AMG Mercedes of Liuzzi that made it again to the top, the former Red Bull driver hardly hindered by the outcome of the new Balance Of Performance that had been put in place before the fourth 2013 meeting. Liuzzi's 1:36.462s was a good lap fair and square, but today Morbidelli was on top form and he managed to post an outstanding 1:36.055 that left Liuzzi 0.407 adrift, also securing Audi's 20th pole position since entering the series in 2005. 

Zolder, Top5 :
2. Vitantonio Liuzzi (AMG Mercedes) 1:36.462s
3. Renaud Kuppens (BMW) + 1:36.934s;
4. Gigi Ferrara (AMG Mercedes) 1:36.940s;
5. Max Mugelli (BMW) + 1:37.113s; 

Top5 drivers points standings after 6 rounds:
1. Biagi 105 points;
2. Berton 80 pts;
3. Liuzzi 76 pts;
4. Ferrara 56 pts.;
5. MORBIDELLI 53 pts.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia