Sunday, July 8, 2012

Audi Sport Italia drivers romp to double win at Misano Adriatico GT3 meeting

Audi Sport Italia Press Release

Audi Sport Italia drivers romp to double win at Misano Adriatico GT3 meeting

Dindo Capello and Andrea Sonvico post win and second place as Audi team mates Davide Di Benedetto and Alex Frassineti clinch their maiden R8 LMS ultra victory

Poring through the pages of Misano Adriatico time sheets, people may well be led to think that Audi Sport Italia entries spent a weekend at the beach (sort of) in Italian Gran Turismo round 5 and 6, with Audi drivers on top across the board. Actually Dindo Capello-Andrea Sonvico and Davide Di Benedetto-Alex Frassineti took a win apiece, and their R8s were only briefly headed during or immediately after mandatory pit stops.
Coming off a dismal weekend at Mugello all drivers bounced back to make their mark in the baking sun, and most likely Dindo Capello -- in his first GT3 outing since October 2011 -- was the spark that ignited the fire. Capello and, of course, the latest Balance of Performance upheld by the Italian Sporting body, which allowed the V10 engines to fit 43mm air restrictors instead of the 39 mm that had the cars nearly choking throughout the previous two race weekends. On Friday, during free practices topped by Sonvico and Frassineti, drivers unanimously reported enhanced performance from their V10s, and the dance went on Saturday as Sonvico and Capello claimed both pole positions available for #31 car, an achievement that as yet had been monopolized by BMW Italia's Z4s.
Saturday grid had the front row filled by R8s, but a chaotic start forced pole sitter Sonvico to relinquish his spot to team mate Di Benedetto, as the 2011 GT3 runner-up dropped behind Valentino Fornaroli's Ferrari. None the less on lap 2 Sonvico had moved past the 458 Italia and he did not wasted time catching up the leading #32 Audi. Di Benedetto and Sonvico then battled in the sun staging an unrelenting 14-lap dice that only came to an end when the Sicilian driver pitted to hand over his R8 LMS ultra to Frassineti, leaving briefly Sonvico enjoy P1. It was therefore up to Capello to try to challenge Frassineti leading spot, but Capello, did not let his wish to post his first 2012 domestic win get in the way of the first 2012 Audi 1-2 "festa", and therefore Frassineti and Di Benedetto were able to celebrate their first Audi win.
Capello, who just before claiming the runnerup spot in Saturday race had clinched an impressive pole position for Sunday race, must have been well aware of his chances to take a quick revenge, and that's what the Asti driver actually did taking a good clean getaway from the rolling start to build a consistent edge over the revamped Porsches and Comandini's Ferrari 458 Italia. Capello on his way to make his Sunday an Hat-Trick Sunday posted the race fastest  lap and handed over the #31 entry over six seconds ahead of team mate Frassineti. The latter, starting from row 5 had brilliantly battled his way back through the field to the runner up spot just seconds before the pit stop window opened, when Comandini's Ferrari went wide under pressure from #32 Audi. Capello's team mate Sonvico only had to take care of Giacomo Barri's Porsche, whose time penalty was the tiniest among leading entries. He did so on lap 19 to grab back P1, then the Como-based driver bided his time to clinch his second 2012 win after the opening round at Vallelunga. Sadly it was not meant to be another 1-2 race for Audi Sport Italia, as gearbox trouble forced Di Benedetto to hobble around to pick a disappointing P6.

In spite of this mishap the title race hots up now, as the best finish spot for BMW drivers at Misano was P3, claimed by Michela Cerruti and Emanuele Liberati in race 2, and series leaders Thomas Biagi-Stefano Colombo posted P6 and P5 finishes. The gap between Sonvico and the leading BMW pair has now shrunk to a six-point spread, 79-73. The series will take a 1-month summer break and will resume with the lone race meeting abroad, held at Austria's Red Bull Ring.
Round 5 - Misano Adriatico, July 7:
1. D. DI BENEDETTO - A. FRASSINETI (AUDI R8 LMS ULTRA) 30 laps, 51'00.427s, average speed 149.132 kph
3. S. Comandini - V. Fornaroli (Ferrari 458 Italia) + 38.121s
4. M. Monti - C. Passuti (Porsche 911 GT3R) + 45.317s
5. A. Balzan - G. Barri (Porsche 911 GT3R) + 51.082s
Round 6 - Misano Adriatico, July 8:
1. D. CAPELLO - A. SONVICO (AUDI R8 LMS ULTRA) 29 laps, 49'52.636s avg speed 147.427
2. A. Balzan - G. Barri (Porsche 911 GT3R) + 8.090s
3. M. Cerruti - E. Liberati (BMW Z4) + 8.938s
4. C. Passuti - M. Monti (Porsche 911 GT3R) + 13.577s
5. T. Biagi - S. Colombo (BMW Z4) + 34.476s
Provisional points standings:
1. Biagi/Colombo 79 total points;
3. SONVICO 73 pts.;
6. Cerruti/Liberati 53 pts;.
8. Balzan/Barri 57 pts.;
10. MONTANARI 38 pts.

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