Sunday, July 21, 2013

Superstars: Gianni Morbidelli and Audi Sport Italia have the last laugh in Portugal

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

Gianni Morbidelli and Audi Sport Italia have the last laugh in Portugal with clean-sweep


This year Superstars' stop at Autodromo de Algarve had in store quite different storylines on this hot summer weekend, as Saturday belonged to AMG Mercedes C63s but Sunday gave Gianni Morbidelli plenty of time to celebrate his second consecutive sweep, an accomplishment that vaults him into full contention for his fifth and sixth --taking into account the domestic title-- Superstars ring with three 2013 meetings remaining: Morbidelli is now only three points behind current leader Thomas Biagi.

On Saturday Morbidelli had fell a litlle short for the inside pole, but his fastest lap was enough to grant him a front row spot, although at the rolling start the power and torque of AMG Mercedes had the upper hand and the Audi driver was shuffled down the order to P4, behind polesitter Gigi Ferrara and team mates Tonio Liuzzi and Thomas Biagi. The former F.1 driver did not lose track of them on the opening lap and he started breathing down on their necks quite soon, actually moving past Biagi on Lap 2. The Camozzi-liveried Audi had to stay in P3 until Lap 3, when Morbidelli went past Liuzzi, the tallest hurdle to clear in Race 1. Ferrara had unfolded a brave gameplan in Portugal, but in doing so he possibly put too much strain on his machinery trying to pull away early on and by Lap 8 he had to relinquish P1 to the Audi rival, then dropping further down the order to a dismal -- and unfair-- P7.

After the morning outcome the paddock was full of insiders forecasting that, one month removed from his Belgium sweep, Morbidelli and his RS 5 could again grab the Portuguese's limelight. And the Pesaro-born driver, although hindered by a 60-kilos ballast coming along his Belgian sweep, made again good use of the latest technical developments that, especially in the drivetrain area, have somehow offset the 1520 kilos minimum weight of the black, white and green Audi. The Pesaro-based driver therefore revelled again in a fine racing rivalry with championship protagonists Liuzzi, Biagi and Ferrara... and won, altough Morbidelli had to work his tail off to make it four-in-a-row.

In the early stages of Race 2, as he was battling with Biagi's AMG Mercedes, braking and front axle issue started to develop, leaving the Audi driver unsure of the reliability of his RS 5. But as time passed Morbidelli adjusted his driving style to the situation and it turned out the opposition was undergoing even worse pains. Therefore with ten minutes to go, as up front Gigi Ferrara and Tonio Liuzzi were dicing for the lead, Morbidelli was grabbing from another C63 P3, moving past Biagi. On lap 9 as Ferrara was suffering servo-steering woes Morbidelli took P2 from the Coupe, then closing  on Liuzzi. The Audi put its nose in front of the AMG Mercedes for a couple of corners on lap 10 but Liuzzi fended off the charge. On lap 11 Morbidelli again took the lead and this time out he did not relinquish it until the checker.

Sunday, July 21.
2013 Round 11 - Algarve, Portugal:
1. GIANNI MORBIDELLI (AUDI RS5) 15 laps, 28’43.907;
2. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Mercedes AMG) +2.066s;
3. Thomas Biagi (Mercedes AMG) +2.346s;
4. Max Mugelli (BMW) +5.531s;
5. Giovanni Berton (BMW) +13.775s.

Sunday, July 21.
2013 Round 12 - Algarve, Portugal:
1. MORBIDELLI (AUDI RS 5) 14 laps, 26’59.970;
2. Liuzzi (Mercedes AMG) +1.569s;
3. Ferrara (Mercedes AMG) +7.949s;
4. Biagi (Mercedes AMG) +8.292s;
5. Berton (BMW) +13.252s.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia