Thursday, July 10, 2014

Italian GT: Audi Sport Italia drivers take on Mugello aiming at Italian GT victory No. 3

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

  • Win Drought at the Tuscan Venue Now Dates Back to 2011
  • Mapelli-Schoeffler, Capello-Zonzini Keen to Leave Monza Behind
Nibbiola (NO) – The 2014 Gran Turismo season resumes this weekend, and the Italian series seems still beaming with health: despite the summer date, which in the past draw less entries, especially from amateur drivers, Mugello will host another 25-car field, level with Monza and Misano Adriatico. Moreover, it should not be taken lightly that the 16-car mark in the top (GT3) class set in the Misano Adriatico opener was also within reach: in Tuscany there will be 15 GT3s, courtesy of a couple of late additions. In this land of plenty, balance is king and Audi standard bearers Marco Mapelli / Thomas Schoeffler (third 6 points adrift of provisional leading duo Vincenzo Donativi / Andrea Gagliardini) and Dindo Capello / Emanuele Zonzini (fifth with 11 points to make up from the top), have a common goal: to be the first drivers to repeat a victory in a season in which not only it's difficult to win, but even stepping on the podium is an achievement. If they were to do so in the lone Italian summer meeting (the rounds scheduled for late August are across the border in France at Paul Ricard) the drivers of the Audi R8 LMS ultra would be undertaking something akin to what in tennis would breaking the serve, giving them an edge on the best Ferrari and Porsche line-ups and putting themselves on the right path for the second half of the Italian GT "tournament".

If, a bit over a month ago, Monza disrupted Audi Sport Italia run to the 2014 Italian GT title with lackluster races, the drivers are poised to steer back into contention. And, in all sincerity, Mugello is one of the tracks that has never been favorable to the colors of Ingolstadt: to find an Audi success we must go back to 2011, when Marco Bonanomi and Andrea Sonvico did so at the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS whose version "ultra" yet had to come. This year, however, the basis for tackling the difficult Tuscan track seems better than usual: first of all, that's the feeling relayed by a mid-June test session that all the Audi Sport Italia drivers but Capello (booked by the factory) took part to. It's a positive feedback confirmed as far as performance is concerned. Second: most likely those who will attend the meeting probably will think of a late spring weekend, rather than hacing to face the typical scorching heath that is common across the Apennines at the height of summer. That's not a trivial issue, as in the past R8s in Italy as well as abroad were not at their best when tracks were hit by heatwaves. Last but not least, the habit to keep fingers crossed for your car tyres seems to have been shelved for good; unfortunately this was common in the past two seasons, when a raft of blown rubber cost at least two probable Audi victories.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia