Saturday, October 11, 2014

Italian GT: Marco Mapelli and Thomas Schöffler claim hard-fought podium finish at Imola

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

Marco Mapelli, Thomas Schöffler claim hard-fought podium finish at Imola and overtake Ferrari's crews for the lead of the GT3 championship in the process

  • #6 Audi rounds out Top3 in unpredictable, fickle round eleven 
  • Dindo Capello, Emanuele Zonzini grapple with alternator trouble
Imola, Italy – 458 Italia GT3s may have seized the leading spot in the Italian GT round eleven staged today at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari but... it turned out that ultimatley it's again an Audi R8 LMS ultra that came atop the tables. Pole sitting Alessandro Balzan and Nicola Benucci, then Luigi Lucchini and Alessandro Pier Guidi and eventual winners Gigi Ferrara, Marco Magli all enjoyed the first place. The Scuderia Italia car even looked set to snatch its second series win in a round that did not miss twists, until Lucchini was beached on lap 23 at Acque Minerali runoff area. By then Magli and Benucci were apparently set to duke it out for the runner-up spot with Audi's Thomas Schoeffler. The Singen, Germany driver had received the number 6 Audi from team mate Marco Mapelli in sixth place. The Lombardy-based driver had started from the front row, holding off championship leader and archrival Raffaele Gianmaria and Ferrara for ten laps, fighting tooth and nail to fend their charge off until he went wide at Tamburello. He then managed to keep the gap from the Ferraris as tight as possible. Schoeffler was as poised and focused, finishing third as Benucci's wingman a race that highlighted how you can't win crowns if you don't score on a regular basis: several of the Italian Gran Turismo mainstays failed to do so today, including Barri and Bortolotti, Lucchini and Pier Guidi and former series leaders Gianmaria and Casè. Imola's Top3 finish yields Mapelli and Schoeffler the first place that they had relinquished at Vallelunga, two points ahead of Bonucci and five ahead of Gianmaria and Casé--the former leaders wound up in P10.

Their team mates Capello and Zonzini were stuck throughout their race with low voltage problems, which luckily didn't forced him to join the DNF list. Capello even had a near miss when Giacomo Barri's Lambo flew off track at Tamburello early in the race, just inches away from the 3-time Le Mans winner. Zonzini then made up ground, but trimming the gap from the leading Ferrari wasn't enough to yield his -- and his team mate, too-- effort a better result than P7. However, they look forward to Sunday, as this time out --unlike Mapelli and Schoeffler -- they will not have to grapple with a 10-second time handicap at the pit-stop.

Race one:
1. Ferrara-Magli (Ferrari) 27 laps, 51:24.865s
2. Balzan-Benucci (Ferrari)
4. Mora (AMG Mercedes)
5. Beretta-Carboni (Porsche)

3. Benucci 94 pts.
4. Giammaria-Case' 91 pts.
6. Beretta-Carboni 79 pts.
8. Balzan 77 pts.

Photo credit: Audi Sport Italia