Monday, October 28, 2013

Superstars: Swan song for quattros in Franciacorta - as Gianni Morbidelli seals Italian crown - also posting Audi's 40th win

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

It's Superstars' swan song for quattros in Franciacorta, as Gianni Morbidelli seals Italian crown--also posting Audi's 40th win


A fortnight ago Superstars' International Series finale at Vallelunga had crowned Gianni Morbidelli 2013 champion. However, the meeting hadn't filled the blank column next to "Italian Champion" caption. Superstars' Italian crown may well have played second fiddle over the last few seasons to the glitzy International one, but with AMG Mercedes' Vitantonio Liuzzi leading by a four-point margin it was well worth for Morbidelli giving it a go to clinching twin-crowns, something that he had already accomplished in 2009 and that fellow Audi driver Johan Kristoffersson had also chalked up last year in frantic Pergusa decider.

Franciacorta, a premiere for the V8 series, turned out into a romp as the Pesaro-born driver was first in practice, qualifying and both races, also posting fastest laps in both races. Yesterday, the ninth and tenth 2013 rounds counting towards the Italian points standings followed the same script: Sunday morning Liuzzi leapfrogged into the lead at the start with Morbidelli biding his time in race one until lap seven to grab the lead for good. As Liuzzi wound up as runner-up fending off the late charge from Morbidelli's team mate Ermanno Dionisio, race one handed over to the Camozzi-liveried RS 5 driver the lead in the box score by three point. It was not enough to give Morbidelli an insurance policy against bad breaks, therefore when Liuzzi again sneaked into the lead at the start of race two, this time out the Audi driver showed less patience, moving past the leader on lap four, never looking back thereafter. Liuzzi tried to stay close to his rival, but the twisty and tight layout took a toll on his tyres and by lap twelve he had to relinquish the runner-up spot to Dionisio, who on his home circuit helped to make it an Audi 1-2--and also posting his best finish in 42 Superstars' starts.

A healthy crowd and a poor field--i.e. six entries--marked what most likely will be Superstars' last Italian Championship rounds. As Audi Sport Italia celebrated the second 2013 drivers' crown --Morbidelli has picked up six Superstars titles since 2007, two of those International, four domestic--Franciacorta sweep also marked Audi's 40th win in the series run by Mr. Maurizio Flammini. In spite of Audis having been a mainstay of the series since 2005, unfortunately the Rome-based promoter already pledged to ban V8 quattros from next season on, which means that yesterday's wins will be the last for iconic Audis. Nonetheless, Audi Sport Italia bitterness was soothed by learning that besides Morbidelli's two crowns a third is on its way to the team premises, as the pending appeals to MSAUK from teamMercedes Italia-Romeo Ferraris have been discarded by the British body. Therefore the Lombard outfit will be forced to dock a heavy haul of points posted at Donington Park. To make it short: Emilio Radaelli's team is to inherit soon the Salvatore Genovese Trophy awarded to the best Superstars team, making of 2013 a vintage season.

Franciacorta, Italy - race nine, 2013
1. GIANNI MORBIDELLI (AUDI RS 5) 21 laps 26:47.851s, avg speed 118.441 kph;
2. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Mercedes AMG) +2.797s;
4. Nicola Baldan (BMW) +8.841s;
5. Francesca Linossi (BMW) - 1 lap.

Franciacorta, Italy - race ten, 2013
1. GIANNI MORBIDELLI (AUDI RS 5) 21 laps 26:41.539s, avg speed 118.908 kph;
3. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Mercedes AMG) +9.432s;
4. Nicola Baldan (BMW) +10.429s;
5. Francesca Linossi (BMW) +27.400s.

1. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Mercedes AMG) 158 pts.;
3. Giovanni Berton (BMW) 83 pts.;
4. Thomas Biagi (Mercedes AMG) 76 pts.;
5.  Gigi Ferrara (Mercedes AMG) 59 pts.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia