Sunday, September 14, 2014

Italian GT: At Vallelunga race two Dindo Capello, Emanuele Zonzini grab runner-up spot

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

  • Audi pair now is six points adrift of leading Ferrari 458 duo
  • Capello, Zonzini ninth try finally bring them back into the Top3
Campagnano di Roma, Italy – Audi Sport Italia's R8s had their best balance right for the final day of the fifth Italian GT meeting at Vallelunga: their drivers may haven't clinched either pole positions or fastest laps, but after a difficult Saturday race, which wound up with Capello, Zonzini in P5 and Mapelli, Schoffler in P8 both cars had stepped up to challenge, and when time to pit came one was leading as the other was lying fourth not far behind, both close in the time sheets to the series top performers. As it is, Capello didn't miss the chance to grab a well deserved second place; however Schoeffler, who planned to build on the lead that Mapelli had built, didn't had the chance to do so as the rear axle didn't budge when the air jacks went down. The Italian-German duo retirement means that they now trail new leaders Raffaele Giammaria, Lorenzo Casè by six points, as the #27 Ferrari claimed P6 today.

A quick look to yesterday's race starting grid seemed harbinger of a Saturday where it all could come together for Dindo Capello and Emanuele Zonzini to return to a Top3 finish, without further waiting: they were starting from P5, moreover they'd be spared time penalties at the mandatory pit-stop. Unfortunately the plan did not take into account problems with gear shifting that blighted the 3-time Le Mans winner stint. However they managed to seal off the Saturday as best Audi crew on track, as a staff tweak at the pit-stop seemed to solve the problem. Therefore Zonzini climbed back into fifth position overtaking the Ferrari that claimed the win at Paul Ricard as race time was expiring. Schoeffler tiptoed outiside and inside the Top10 throughout his stint at Autodromo Piero Taruffi, handing the #6 Audi to team mate Mapelli in P10, with a 10-second time levy waiting for him due to Paul Ricard podium finish. The Lombard driver moved past a couple of rivals grabbing the three points awarded to eight place, an outcome that let rivals Casè-Giammaria slip by as new series leader, although by a lone point, as the Ferrari pair pole position translated into third position. The race again saw the Mirko Bortolotti and Giacomo Barri's Lamborghini cruise to win.

The race one results were obviously disappointing, but the Audi camp was hardly wrenching, as everybody knew that Mapelli and Zonzini would have take on Sunday's race from the front row and row two respectively. Pole sitting Bortolotti's car sputtered away from the lights, giving fellow front row sitter Mapelli an opportunity to make an immediate challenge which wound up with the former Italian GT champ taking the lead from Casè and Frassineti's Ferrari. His solid drive made sure that he would not have relinqueshed the lead until lap 16, when he pitted as last of the leading cars to do so. Sadly a mechanical problem prevented his team mate Schoeffler from continuing their chase to the third season win, as the German could not even restart the #6 Audi to resume the fray. Luckily for the Audi Sport Italia colors, this time out team mates Capello and Zonzini were on their way back to the Top3, a position that had escaped them since their win in the Misano Adriatico opener. Zonzini finished his stint after a consistent drive in fourth place, and Capello made the most of the time handicaps that the leading cars had to cope with, grabbing a well deserved second place although squeezed in a sandwich between the Ferraris of sporstcar specialists Alex Balzan and Matteo Malucelli.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia