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Italian GT, Vallelunga – Race Reports
Easy For Audi

Qualifying One

25 cars gathered for the first round of the 2011 Italian GT Championship at the beautiful track of Vallelunga near Rome. Pole position in Race One and top spots, as expected went to the only GT3s cars on the grid, and the Audi R8 with Dindo Capello grabbed the top spot; almost three tenths quicker than Camathias from the Autorlando Team. Third was the second Audi of Sonvico.

It was an all-Lamborghini front row for the GT Cup (a sign that the top engine is still there, despite the BOP). Sanna was in front (fourth overall) from Piccini, while third was Malucelli in the top 430 Ferrari; then the Porsches of Fornaroli, Romani and Passuti. The only GT2 car, the Coggiola’s Porsche, was 12th overall.

GT4 was a four car affair - three Ginettas grabbing the top three places, and Lasagni taking pole. The only other GT4 car was a Cayman of Donaviti-Brambati.

Qualifying Two

The front row for race two was an Audi affair, Bonanomi grabbing the pole from Cicognani…but the gap was almost two-and-half seconds! The second row (but first of the GT Cup) was still a Gallardo job - Livio was on top, then Stancheris. Fifth was Formilli Fendi in his GT Cup 997, then Camathias’ teammate Cordoni, then two GT Cup 430 Ferraris for Pierleoni and Toccacelo.

GT4 pole again went to the Ginetta of Bianchet-Lasagni.

Race One

There was a nice, relaxed atmosphere and pleasant sunshine for the 2011 debut of the Italian GT at Vallelunga.

At the first green flag of the season, Capello confirmed his first place, then Camathias, and Sonvico. The Gallardos were third and fourth, but first in GT Cup; Sanna from Piccini. Third in class was the Porsche of Mastronardi. In the middle of the pack Coggiola, in the lonely GT2, was making ground.

Malucelli made a good and clean move to pass the third Gallardo of Zanardini, while up at the front Capello was constantly easing away from Camathias who had his mirrors full of the second R8 of Sonvico. Piccini found a gap and took the top spot from Sanna in the GT Cup class. Mastronardi was still third, but chipping off tenths lap after lap and closing the gap to the “bulls”; maybe because Malucelli was breathing down his neck!

A 430 find the gravel trap (the Romagnoli-Bernasconi one) and was unable to move away, causing the Safety Car to be deployed. In GT4, Lasagni was leading in his Ginetta from the same of Cappelletti.

The race restarted shortly afterwards, but nothing changed upfront; Capello was still leading from Camathias and Sonvico. Piccini, Sanna, Fornaroli were the top three in GT Cup, but behind them Comandini, Malucelli, Zanardini and Passuti were bumper-to-bumper.

After the pit stops, Cicognani-(Capello) still led, but soon Cordoni-(Camathias) lost second to Bonanomi-(Sonvico) in the second R8. In GT Cup Livio-(Piccini) led from Stancheris-(Sanna), while Pierleoni-(Malucelli) was the new third place man from Mastronardi-(Fornaroli). GT4 lost the top Ginetta of Lasagni due to technical problems, leaving Della Volta-(Cappelletti) as the new leader.

But the overall lead was about to change; Cicognani made a little mistake at the last corner, exiting wide, and Bonanomi needed no invitation to grab the lead. The GT Cup saw the retirement of Livio, so Stancheris was the new leader. Pierleoni was now second, from Gagliardini and Mastronardi in the Porsches.

Nothing changed before the end and, as expected, it was an Audi 1-2. Third was the Autorlando Porsche, while in GT Cup it was a Lamborghini victory for Stancheris, from the 430 of Pierleoni (after a very good first stint for Malucelli) then the Porsches of Gagliardini, Mastronardi and Castellaneta. GT4 saw a Ginetta 1-2 for Cappelletti-Della Volta from Frazza-Maranelli.

Race Two

Race two started under a cloudy sky, but with no threat of rain. We discovered the reason for the retirement of Livio’s Lamborghini in Race One - the typical “electrical gremlins” – and that the 2009 GT3 Champion was hoping for better luck in Race Two.

Before the start the usual time penalties were issued: 15 seconds for Capello-Cicognani, 10 for Bonanomi-Sonvico and 5 for Cordoni-Camathias in GT3; 15 for Sanna-Stancheris, 10 for Pierleoni-Malucelli and 5 for Passuti-Gagliardini in GT Cup.

The start was another clean one, with an easy one-two for the Audi; Bonanomi kept first place from Cicognani, Livio was third from Stancheris, while behind it was quite a battle. Cordoni tried a wide line at the first corner only to find himself in dangerous territory and dropped back several places. Fifth was Castellaneta, from Toccacelo. Di Benedetto in a 997 decided to have a spin and a trip across the grass at the Cimini 2 curve and restarted almost last.

Livio pressed Cicognani hard, but the positions remain the same. Further back, Cordoni – by now recovering from his first corner scare - was just behind Toccacelo and Castellaneta.

At the front of the field, Bonanomi had pulled out a large gap on the angry pack. Cicognani also had a safe gap from Livio and Stancheris, who were now nose to tail, while Cordoni in the Autorlando 997 overtook Toccacelo and was soon trying to do the same to Castellaneta; this task being accomplished two laps later. Behind the top spots the battle was very much alive, with Gagliardini, Iacone, Zanardini, Bellini and Romani swapping position several times before everything settled down.

Cordoni unfortunately made another bad mistake while trying to outbrake the Gallardo of Stancheris, tipping the black Lambo into a spin and into the gravel. The Vallelunga traps are too deep even for a 4wd car and a tow-tractor dragged him out, but five laps were lost in the recovery. A penalty would surely soon follow for the Porsche driver. In GT4 the leading Ginetta of Frazza also found the gravel trap and lost several laps.

The mandatory pitstop, despite the time penalties, didn’t change the standings, and Sonvico-(Bonanomi) was still in a very safe lead, from Capello-(Cicognani) and the “guilty” Porsche of Camathias-(Cordoni).

GT Cup was another story, with Piccini, now at the wheel of the leading Gallardo, making a mistake trying to overtake a slower 430 and taking a trip across the gravel. He continued, losing a lot of time, but was able to keep the lead. Second and third were the 997s of Mastronardi-(Fornaroli) and Castellaneta-(Formilli Fendi), while fourth was the Ferrari 430 of Malucelli-(Pierleoni).

There was soon bad news for Autorlando - the car retiring due to the damage done by Cordoni in the contact with the Gallardo of Stancheris some laps previously.

Upfront the two Audis finished the race in typical photo-finish manner, with the win going to Bonanomi-Sonvico, just one and a half seconds ahead of Capello-Cicognani.

The GT Cup final laps were quite exciting, with Mastronardi pressing Piccini hard, but also with Malucelli gaining ground after passing Castellaneta. But this was not a Porsche day; a live TV shot showing the Mastronardi 997 in the pit with the bonnet open, race over for him. Piccini, despite the best efforts of Malucelli, crossed the line first. Third were Comandini-Romani in a Porsche, from the third Gallardo of Mamè-Zanardini.

In GT4 it was two out of two for Cappelletti-Pozzi in their Ginetta.

Results

Race One – Here
Race Two - Here

It was maybe not the usual exciting show we’re used to, but the GT Cup class is as vital as always;, anyone can win, but clearly the BOP (thankfully) didn’t change the situation too much. Porsche need a little bit of luck, but we expect much more from the Ferrari side. In GT3 the “second drivers” are the decisive factor. Cordoni is not yet up to speed with Cicognani and especially the other Audi of Bonanomi-Sonvico, clearly the main favourite for the title. GT4 is a “work in progress”; for now it is a Ginetta one make.

The next round of the Italian GT Championship takes place on a very distant 5th of June at Misano.

Gabriele Tosi