Friday, November 1, 2013

Superstars: Audi Sport Italia 2013 season review

By Tarek Ramchani and Johan Laubscher

Title successfully defended in the International and Italian Superstars Series. The Audi RS 5 quattro, which was victorious with Johan Kristoffersson last year, was again the series champion in the Italian based touring car series.Gianni Morbidelli and Audi Sport Italia took two great championship titles after battling with arch rivals from Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW all season long.

The Italian ace, Gianni Morbidelli, was able to beat all of his rivals, despite the fact that the car was extremely penalized with extra weight and smaller air restrictors. Morbidelli was strong and Audi Sport Italia was very well prepared this season. The quattro system also made a big difference in some very wet races throughout the season.

The season review has been compiled from the 2013 Audi Motorsport Blog Weekend Round Up posts. Each round has been added as was seen in the individual Weekend Round Up posts during 2013, which can be accessed via the links throughout the review below:

Round 1: Monza

Monza hosted the opening round of the Superstars championship. Audi Sport Italia entered two RS 5 race cars. Monza is traditionally a difficult track for the Audis, due to the very high end top speeds, however the team worked well this weekend. A top four qualifying position and finish was achieved by Gianni Morbidelli in both races. His teammate, Ferdinando Geri, finished in the lower half of the field at Monza, and retired from race two.

Taken from Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (6-7/04/2013)

Round 2: Brno

Superstars headed to the Czech Republic this weekend, for round two at Brno. Audi Sport Italia arrived with their two Audi RS 5 quattro cars. The Audis suffered at Monza, round one, but the team was confident that Brno would better suit the four wheel drive cars. Gianni Morbidelli topped the first wet free practice session and qualified fifth, but unfortunately he retired from race one. His teammate Ferdinando Geri finished within the top ten. Race two saw Morbidelli perform very well, taking second place.

Taken from Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (18-20/05/2013)

Round 3: Slovakia Ring

The Superstars Series returned to Central Europe for the second round in succession, as they headed to the Slovakia Ring following Brno in the Czech Republic last time out. The Slovakia Ring hosted the third round of the series. Audi Sport Italia arrived with their two RS 5 quattro cars and qualified seventh and thirteenth for race one. The first race proved to be very difficult as both RS 5 cars retired. The second race saw Morbidelli improving up to third place, salvaging a good result from a difficult weekend.

Taken from Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (8-9/06/2013)

Round 4: Zolder

The Superstars headed to Zolder this weekend for round four of the championship. Audi Sport Italia arrived full of confidence, expecting the tighter Belgian track to suit their RS 5 quattro race cars. The team was joined by local Audi racing star, Laurens Vanthoor, in the silver #46 car. Vanthoor impressed during the free practice sessions. He was unable to take part in qualifying but his teammate and Audi Sport Italia regular, Gianni Morbidelli, was able to take pole position for the races on Sunday. During race one Morbidelli dominated at the front whilst Vanthoor came from behind and stormed through the field to finish second, completing an Audi Sport Italia 1-2. Race two saw a reverse grid and Vanthoor once again stormed through the field, this time taking the lead and dominating the race. Eventually Morbidelli was able to move up into the lead followed by Vanthoor, ensuring another Audi 1-2 finish.

Taken from Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (22-23/06/2013)

Round 5: Portimao

The Superstars Championship headed to Portugal, hosting round five at Algarve in Portimão. Audi Sport Italia was competing on two fronts this weekend, the Superstars in Portugal and the Italian GT at Imola, thus they decided to only enter one Audi RS 5 at Algarve. The car was driven by their lead driver, Gianni Morbidelli. He qualified on the front row and dominated both races, taking four straight wins now in the series following the double win at Zolder. Two Audi RS 4 cars were also entered by the Adria Raceway team.

Taken from Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (20-21/07/2013)

Round 6: Donington Park

The Superstars Series was also at Donginton, but only one Audi was entered. With Audi Sport Italia being split between Imola and Donington they again decided to only enter one Audi RS 5 quattro, the #45 with Gianni Morbidelli. He qualified fourth and battle at the front during race one, despite the severe performance penalties. He was battling for third and second when the leading group all slipped on oil dropped by a Lexus. Morbidelli unfortunately spun, but recovered to finish fourth, right behind his title rival. Race two saw Gianni Morbidelli battling for the lead with his title rival, Thomas Biagi. He finally passed Biagi for the lead during the second half of the race and held it to take victory, despite the performance penalties.

Taken from Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (31/08-1/09/2013)

Round 7: Imola

The Superstars Series headed to round seven at Imola. Audi Sport Italia arrived with a full set of three Audi RS 5 quattro race cars. Championship points leader and lead Audi Sport Italia driver, Gianni Morbidelli, was joined by Davide Di Benedetto and Giuseppe Cipriani. During qualifying the Audis struggled and Gianni Morbidelli was the highest Audi on the grid in eighth. Race one saw the Audis improving in the wet conditions, as Gianni Morbidelli moved up to second ahead of Di Benedetto in fourth and Cipriani in ninth. Race two again saw the Audi drivers capitalizing with quattro in the wet weather. Gianni Morbidelli won the second race, extending his championship lead even further. His teammates, Di Benedetto and Cipriani, finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Taken from Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (28-29/09/2013)

Round 8: Vallelunga

The Superstars Series finale was also held at Vallelunga this weekend. Gianni Morbidelli arrived at the finale as the championship points leader in his #45 Audi Sport Italia RS 5 quattro. He was joined by Andrea Larini in a second Audi RS 5 quattro from Audi Sport Italia for this event. Both drivers showed excellent pace by topping both free practice sessions. Morbidelli qualified on the front row, but most importantly, he was ahead of his championship rivals. Larini qualified sixth. The first race concluded with Morbidelli finishing third, ahead of Larini in fourth. These results were enough to crown Gianni Morbidelli as the 2013 International Superstars champion, his third title with Audi Sport Italia, his fifth in total. The second race of the day marked the final 2013 Superstars race. The season closed with another victory for Audi Sport Italia during the second race, as Larini won ahead of Morbidelli in seventh.

Taken from Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (12-13/10/2013)

Round 9: Franciacorta - Italian Series finale

The Superstars Series was at Franciacorta this weekend. The International Superstars Series, featured on tracks in various European countries, concluded at Vallelunga two weekends ago, when Gianni Morbidelli was crowned as the champion. There is also an Italian Superstars Series, which is comprised of all the Italian venues visited by the Series. This Italian series component of the Superstars hosted its final round at Franciacorta this weekend. Gianni Morbidelli was once again in the think of the title fight, as he arrived lying second in the points, trailing Vitantonio Liuzzi by only four points. Audi Sport Italia entered two cars this weekend, Gianni Morbidelli was joined by Ermanno Dionisio, who was making his return to the Audi Sport Italia team. Morbidelli dominated practice, setting the fastest time during both sessions, followed by Dionisio in second and fourth in the two sessions respectively. Gianni Morbidelli continued his good pace by taking pole position, backed up by Dionisio on the second row. Race one saw Morbidelli taking victory and the points lead. Dionisio finished third in race one, ensuring that both Audis were on the podium. The weekend was concluded by Morbidell taking the second race win as well, leading an Audi 1-2 with Dionisio in second. These results meant that Morbidell added the 2013 Italian Superstars crown to his International crown as well.

Taken from Weekend Round Up - Audi Motorsport Blog (26-27/10/2013)

Photo credit: Superstars Series