03.05.2021 – Excitement and twists characterized the opening round of the Italian GT Sprint 2021 Championship that has been run in Monza and Imperiale Racing confirmed its value with the usual grit being among the protagonists of the highest class of the Italian GT cars.
The Mirandola-based team fielded two Lamborghini Huracàn GT3 Evo, the #63 for the PRO pairing made by Alex Frassineti (ITA) and Luca Ghiotto (ITA) and the #19 driven by Mateo Llarena (GUA) and Riccardo Cazzaniga (ITA) in Pro-Am. Both crews showed great adaptation skills and completed a great performance both on the single lap and on the race pace, which allowed Imperiale Racing to score points with both cars in the two races.
In qualifying, Frassineti put in a good performance in Q1 qualifying the #63 car to the fifth place in 1’48.401s, while the young Llarena, who was at the first exit in a Lamborghini, was eleventh overall and fifth of Pro-Am in 1’49.067s. Just before Q2, a rain shower reshuffled the cards making the fight for the pole position of race two even more uncertain. Ghiotto ended his first qualifying session of the year in 1’53.475s, which earned him P8, while Cazzaniga led the #19 car again to P11 overall, and P6 of Pro-Am.
Race one started under a thunderstorm and behind the safety car. The rain did not cease and after a few laps race direction decided to postpone the remaining laps to Sunday morning. Frassineti got a great start in the #63 car and came to the fore in the fight for the top in an exciting challenge with Riccardo Agostini (Audi R8 LMS), Luca Filippi (Ferrari 488 Evo) and Jacopo Guidetti (Honda NSX). Despite a contact at the first chicane slightly damaged the right rear aero of the car, the Italian driver completed a spectacular stint handing the car over to Ghiotto in the fight for top-5. The Italian driver managed to be very effective and run a very exciting finale: he was close to the back of Lorenzo Ferrari at the exit of the Parabolica of the last lap, got on the final straight on the side of the Audi R8 LMS and he managed to pip the rival ending fourth with an amazing final sprint. The penalties handed after the race, considering also the short race held on Saturday, allowed Imperiale Racing to recover one further position and end third on the podium.
Race two has been more linear. Ghiotto has been very effective in his maiden start in the Huracàn, keeping the position in the melee of the start and later on chose to pit with perfect timing. In the second stint Frassineti lapped constantly like a clock putting in very fast lap times that allowed him to close in on Agostini and Guidetti. The red-hot finale saw him ending very close to the podium. The fourth-place allowed the pairing to score important points for the championship.
In the #19 Mateo Llarena run an extraordinary first stint on a humid track. He proved his talent with some spectacular overtaking moves that saw him climb up to P5. In the second stint, Cazzaniga posted the fastest lap of the race in 1’49.146s on lap 21 and crossed the finish line in seventh place and third of Pro-Am. A 5s time penalty in the chaos of turn one, when several cars had to cut through to avoid contacts, saw Llarena and Cazzaniga ending eighth overall and fourth of Pro-Am.
In race two Cazzaniga put in again a very strong pace posting one of the fastest laps of the race that was unbeaten for many laps. The Italian driver wisely managed through the tough initial laps and his recovery allowed him to hand the car over to Llarena in the fight for the top-ten. The rookie from Guatemala did not hold anything back and ended the race taking a great P7 overall and P4 of Pro-Am.
“It has been a very tricky weekend due to the weather conditions, but I am very happy about the end result: a podium in race one and P4 in race two. We are only 3 points shy of the lead, the team did a great job and the car performed well both on the wet and dry. Luca did a strong race at his maiden GT event, we are going to have great chances in Misano.”.
“This has been a challenging weekend. I had to learn a lot of things quickly, but I am satisfied as we did two good races. We have been constant both on the wet and dry. I will continue to learn the car and speed up the learning process”.
“I am very happy on this positive weekend. Things went well despite the difficult conditions. In race one, I felt well with the car and I tried to push hard to get some positions back. The car was perfect also in race two on the dry and we were close to the podium, which is our goal for Misano”.
“I am quite happy with the outcome of this weekend, our potential is high and the team did a great job even though weather conditions made things trickier. The choice to start on rain tyres in the first stint of race one did not pay off, but we were very competitive in my stint on the slick tyres. In race two I made a little mistake at turn one, but then I picked up a good pace. We bounced back and ended close to the podium. I believe we would have deserved the podium, that is still our target”.
Luca Del Grosso (Team Manager):
“This has not been an easy weekend as weather conditions made it difficult to chose the right setup and tyres, but we have seen great teamwork and the team worked as one, which allowed the guys to push hard both on the wet and dry. Alex is a certainty, he knows the car well and proved it, Luca improves every lap and he managed to get the most in every moment of the race, Mateo run a very solid weekend at his debut and Riccardo has never been this fast, that fastest lap of the race is really very important. Monza is probably the most difficult track for us, therefore we can be happy about this season opener that allowed us to score important points for the overall and Pro-Am classifications. We never lost sight of our target, we also collected a lot of data that will certainly help us prepare at best the next round that will be in Misano”.
CIGT Sprint Classification
1. Crestani-Greco pt. 22; 1. Agostini-Ferrari pt. 22; 2. Mancinelli-Postiglione pt. 21; 3. Bar-Segù pt. 20; 4. Frassineti-Ghiotto pt. 19; 5. De Luca-Guidetti pt. 12
CIGT Sprint Pro-Am Classification
1. Cecotto-Perolini pt. 27; 2. Filippi-Lippi pg. 25; 3. De Luca-Guidetti pt. 20; 3. Segù-Bar pt. 20; 4. Hudspeth-Schreiner pt. 16; 5. Cazzaniga-Llarena pt. 14