Sunday, September 1, 2013

Superstars: Gianni Morbidelli grabs Superstars lead at Donington Park

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

Gianni Morbidelli grabs Superstars lead --level on points with Thomas Biagi -- after posting win number five at Donington Park


At Donington Park today Audi Sport Italia and Gianni Morbidelli had their Superstars winning streak snapped at four by a brilliant Gigi Ferrara effort. But, after the stunning coupe AMG Mercedes lights-to-flag success, the former F.1 driver put in a solid come back win in race two edging another Three-pointed-star driver, Thomas Biagi, and claiming from team Romeo Ferraris mainstay a share of the points standings lead: they both boast 173 points, with two meetings to go.

The measures taken by the series' body to slow down the rolling Camozzi Audi--which included choking down the V8 engine, raising the ride height and pushing even higher the already beefy car minimum weight--produced a toiling Saturday for the Audi camp, but Morbidelli's car vying for a podium place all the time on Sunday made soon a statement that his RS 5 was better than his P4 qualifying performance suggested. As race one got underway Morbidelli was squeezed in P5 between Biagi's AMG Mercedes and Colin Turkington's BMW. The three driver were packed behind Giovanni Berton's BMW who was fighting tooth and nail to keep his P3. But the young two-time race winner could only keep at bay the experienced folks behind him for three laps, then Biagi and Morbidelli moved past his M3 in sync, rushing to close the gap from the leading pair of polesitter Gigi Ferrara and Vitantonio Liuzzi. The AMG Mercedes drivers had pulled a gap from the closest pursuers, but it all was suddenly disposed by a safety car triggered by a shunt occurred to Francesco Sini's Chevy. When the safety car left the course Morbidelli immediately set about challenging series' leader Biagi for P3, completing his task on Lap 11. The Camozzi-liveried RS 5 then quickly closed in on Liuzzi's bumper, but Morbidelli saw his hopes of a runner-up finish --or an even better outcome-- dashed when Diego Romanini parked his ailing Lexus on the run-off area at Melbourne hairpin on Lap 12. The oil sprayed sent Liuzzi and Morbidelli spinning, allowing Biagi and Berton to move up the ranks. The unlucky former F1 drivers resumed the race, though, and the lone Audi soon had the red-silver Romeo Ferraris AMG Mercedes in sight, claiming again P4 with two laps to goI. It was too late to try any move on Biagi for P3, though, and the AMG Mercedes nipped Morbidelli at the checker by 0.3s, as Ferrara claimed a light-to-flag win and Berton wound up second.

Compared to race one, the second round looked quite uneventful. For Morbidelli, that is, as Liuzzi's Mercedes fell by the wayside due to technical trouble in the opening lap and Race 1 winner Ferrara's car followed suit at the half-race mark. Therefore if you do not count Max Mugelli's BMW, that Morbidelli overtook on Lap 1 to claim the runner-up spot, the Audi driver only had eyes for arch-rival Biagi, who took P1 at the start but could not open a gap on Morbidelli. The AMG Mercedes driver gave it all, even posting the fastest lap and the point that comes along it, but Morbidelli was biding his time waiting for the tyre wear to tilt the balance towards his 4WD. Which happened on Lap 11 when the Audi went past the C63 at Redgate Corner. As Morbidelli was dialing in his overweight car to make sure to take it to the checker, Motors TV commentator Clive McNeill quipped that 'you can take away a wheel off this car but Morbidelli will manage do find a way to win'. Which the Italian actually managed to do...

At Donington Park Audi Sport Italia lodged a protest in order to ascertain the compliance of bodywork and aero parts of team Romeo Ferraris C63s. The result of the protest will be available at a later date.

Sunday, September 1.
2013 Round 13 - Donington Park, UK:
1. Gigi Ferrara (AMG Mercedes) 16 laps;
2. Giovanni Berton (BMW) +1.874s.
3. Thomas Biagi (Mercedes AMG) +2.678s;
5. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Mercedes AMG) +5.202s;

Sunday, September 1.
2013 Round 14 - Donington Park, UK:
2. Thomas Biagi (Mercedes AMG) +8.544s;
3. Max Mugelli (BMW) +9.322s;
4. Giovanni Berton (BMW) +10.916s;
5. Tiziano Trentin (BMW) +39.145s.
1. MORBIDELLI - Biagi 173 points;
3. Berton 136 pts;
4. Liuzzi 132 pts;
5. Ferrara 113 pts.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia