Sunday, September 15, 2013

Italian GT: At Vallelunga drizzle and rain lift Audi's boat

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

At Vallelunga drizzle and rain lift Audi's boat in next-to-last Gran Turismo meeting

Johan Kristoffersson-Alex Frassineti enjoy best 2013 Sunday posting two Top3 finishes 

Italian Gran Turismo visited Rome's Piero Taruffi circuit today with the Audi camp on the back foot after the whole slew of difficult outings that had hindered the team cars this summer. Although Saturday was unsurprisingly a lackluster day for the Audi crews, with Johan Kristoffersson posting a P4 for race two grid as best effort, Sunday was another story. As a late-summer rain front sprayed the scenic Italian venue with drizzle--and then utter rain -- a couple of wild wet races helped to cushion the fallout from the unlucky marriage between the R8 LMS ultras and the Avon control tyres, at least in terms of raw performance.

On a grey Sunday morning the whole field started race one on rain tyres, and the same Four-rings cars that had reeled in practice allowed their drivers to roll. Mirko Venturi took the lead, but the Ferrari driver was booked to spend a long time in the pit lane due to a hefty time handicap piled up with outstanding finishes in the past few races. Which allowed both Audis to claim the runner-up spot, early on, courtesy of homeboy Alex Frassineti and then to Andrea Sonvico comeback. The latter handed over the car at Dindo Capello, but the three-time Le Mans winner run was soon hampered by a red warning light and technical woes that forced the Italian to nurse his stricken car to the finish line claiming a dismal P5. On contrary, his Swede team mate was nowhere near close to shelf his hopes. Resuming the race behind Stefano Comandini's Z4 and Marco Mapelli's 911--all of them on slicks--he quickly adjusted to the low grip surface, and racking up three successive fastest laps filled the gap from the rivals with five minutes to go. Possibly the Audi drivers, fresh from a struggling Saturday, were well geared up to tackle the difficulties of a slippery track, whilst the opposition was on the back foot as soon as it was up to them to take on the challenges of a low-grip surface. Anyway, on lap 25 Kristoffersson's near miss with a backmarker gave some relief to the leading duo, then with two laps to go the lanky Swede taught an overtaking lesson to Mapelli and grabbed P2. Sadly it was too late to challenge Comandini, who posted BMW's third straight Italian GT win by 0.6s.

In the afternoon, the scattered crowd was still holding umbrellas when race two got underway with the safety car pulling over only at the end of lap three. It was meant to be the earliest of a season record three full caution periods... Starting from row two on the grid, Kristoffersson mastered an increasingly wet track making up one spot, but the safety car was suddenly re-deployed as Michela Cerruti's BMW Z4 crashed at Cimini corner. The green flag was waved again on lap seven triggering an Audi charge to Comandini's runner-up spot. The Swede had the upper hand moving on the inside of the BMW that had claimed race one by lap nine at Cimini corner, then shifting his sight on the leading Lamborghini. It looked like Giacomo Barri was on his way to relinquish the lead to the rain-happy Scandinavian, but unfortunately Kristoffersson spun on lap 10 and therefore he was sitting on P3 just before handing over the seat to Frassineti. The pit-stop sent back the No 5 Audi in P2 tho, only to see Frassineti spinning before having one soaked lap completed. Colombo's BMW therefore pipped the Audi for P2 in the standings, but it turned out his was the last emotion before the safety-car stormed back on the track... and spun, advising race control to call it a day and wave the red flag. As Kristoffersson and Frassineti again climbed the rostrum steps, Sonvico and Capello wound up in P5: Capello had been one of the men to profit of the chopping and changing in the pack. Starting on row four he was fourth before the mandatory pit-stop, but the No 4 Audi crew lost an unscheduled 10-second that burdened Sonvico when he briefly resumed the race. The Italian Gran Turismo still has one meeting ahead, scheduled at Monza on October 21.


Round 11 2013: Sunday, 15 September 
1. Stefano Colombo - Stefano Comandini (BMW) 28 laps 49'45.081 avg. speed 137.941 kph
3. Cristian Passuti - Marco Mapelli (Porsche) +1.922s

Round 12 2013: Sunday, 15 September
1. Giacomo Barri - Giorgio Sanna (Lamborghini) 13 laps 32'27.084 avg speed 98,186 kph;
2. Stefano Colombo - Stefano Comandini (BMW) +6.002s;

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia