Italian GT Championship – Misano – June 13

In the craziest weekend of the year, with two 24 hour races (Le Mans and Nurburgring) the BTCC, the IRL on Saturday night, we also had the sixth (yes 6 out of 8) pair of races of the Italian GT Championship, at Misano. Despite the clash of dates with Le Mans and Nurburgring, we reached the highest number of cars in the short history of the series - with 24 - and we finally had the debut of the 575 instead of the, now quite old, 550 for the JMB team - with the Ferrari Challenge top driver Malucelli partnering Casè. The poles went to the Ferrari (for race 2 and second in race 1) and one for the Lister (second in race 2).

At the start under a bright sky, despite some very dark clouds approaching, Lancellotti took the lead in front of the newcomer Malucelli. Iin the midfield pack, among the N-GT battle Pigoli, Chiesa and Deverikos were battling too close for a place, Pigoli turning right and touching Chiesa, who didn’t want loose a centimetre, and touched Deverikos, all three cars had damage but the race for Deverikos ended right on the spot, with a hard hit to the barrier, while Chiesa have both left and right front damage and Pigoli had a bad puncture on the right rear, but rejoined.

At the next corner the yellow 360 Mik Corse of Berton had a grassy moment (too much grass) risking hitting other cars in the next left hand corner, but thankfully the bad mistake from the Ferrari man driver caused only his retirement. Safety car of course…and fireworks since the beginning!

The restart just after two laps saw Lancellotti, Malucelli, Perazzini and Mastracci, Marini and Spinelli in the top places, while in N-GT Riccitelli led from Groppi. At the back of the grid Pigoli and Chiesa were recovering very fast.

At the 12 min mark, Malucelli, clearly much faster than the Lister, passed Lancellotti at the end of the longest straight on the track, but the Lister man didn’t make life easy for the 575 driver.

At 13 min the Viper of Marini (Sanguiolo) had to take a stop and go (unknown reason), and in the meantime Malucelli was easing away at one second or better per lap from the Lister: much further back, the Viper group was losing time. Loris Kessel was very angry with the EbiMotors team (Pigoli’s team)…a classic Italian job!…fireworks ended? Not quite: Marini, recovering from the stop and go, passed and then closed the door too fast in front of the 360 of Merzario, contact for this pair, but both continued …yes and no, just a lap later, the black 360 of Merzario ended its race in the gravel.

Before the pit-stops, things calmed down with Malucelli 15 sec in front of Lancellotti who had another 15 sec ahead of Perazzini then Bonaldi another 8 sec behind, then Spinelli and Riccitelli led in N-GT.

After the pit-stops, the closest duel was between Piccini-(Riccitelli) and Moccia-(Groppi) both in Porsches.

The top positions barely changed, so we had Casè in front of Zonca (-32 sec), Matteuzzi (-34 sec) and Bonaldi (-55 sec), then Sabatini (-58 sec), and just two laps later the Dr Sport battle was won by Sabatini, who passed Mastracci on the main straight.

Matteuzzi then passed Zonca’s Lister for second place. For a brief moment the Baso / Cioci Viper appeared in fourth place, while Bonaldi retired with fuel pick-up problem. When asked about the first appearance of the Saleen, Bonaldi answered, “We hope soon, is more complicated than a space shuttle but we are working as fast as we can!”

And nothing changed until the chequered flag, expect for a spin for the Spanish Corvette.

So at the end at the first heat, exciting only in the first part, the 575 won, as expected, and the in the championship duel Zonca / Lancellotti lost their battle with the white Viper of Matteuzzi / Perazzini, fourth for Baso / Cioci, fifth for Sabatini / Spinelli.

In N-GT Piccini / Riccitelli won in front of Monti / Casè then a podium place for the other 360 of Chiesa / Kessel. Groppi / Moccia lost two positions in the closing stages. In GT3 class Sada / Sala won in the 996 in front of the Maserati Light of Giudici / Raimondi and Cipolli / Corradi.

And the weather didn’t change anything, at least not in the beginning of the race. Anyway the 575 was smoking quite a lot on the grid, surely a bad sign? Deverikos / Valli won’t start so we’re down to 23…and the Lister squad found out what was slowing the Storm, the right rear damper is not working properly.

Race two started… and with a non-starter the lights remained red but it seems not everyone took notice of that… and two corners into the race, the black and yellow Viper of Sanguiolo hit the rear of the Lister and destroyed almost all the rear end of the black machine. Sanguiolo also took off the yellow 360 of Mik Corse but was able to restart, and Kessel had a grassy moment to avoid the carnage…

A “compact city” version of the Lister entered the pits…and so we had a second start, which provided “heart attack” mode when Galimberti started slowing and one of the Dr Sport Equipe Vipers had to lock all four wheels to avoid another crash. In all this mess the lead was taken by Matteuzzi’s Viper, the 575 of Casè then Baso then Galimberti, Bonaldi, Piccini, Piccolo, Sabatini, Monti, Groppi and Merzario.

Matteuzzi used all his experience to avoid the mess and grabbed the lead from the 575, but Casè had a clearly superior car - but passing the “old Viper” wasn’t an easy task. Lap five and the “compact Lister” rejoined the race to collect a few points.

At lap 7, after a few tryies with some contact, Casè muscled his way past the Viper, and that was the race over for the lead…

Just a little behind the big GT cars (Casè, Matteuzzi, and Baso) a good scrap between Piccini, Monti and Merzario was very entertaining. In front of them Galimberti was leading the N-GT class, followed by Bonaldi and Sabatini in the black Dr Sport Equipe Viper, then Piccolo then the trio… which was caught and passed (on the road) by the “compact Lister” despite it being a couple of laps down. Monti (with a 360 Modena) was able to pass Merzario (in a brand new 360 GTC) in a beautiful move outside the turnaround corner before the esses before the straight…but it was not over because the 360 Modena is much slower in the straight compared with the GTC so Merzario regained the place half a lap later, and the “ever young” Arturo was “on fire” and very quickly catching the RSR of Piccini and “bumping” the back of the RSR as he passed him - only to take the grass in the next chicane. It wasn’t over yet: Monti passed Arturo and “bumped” Piccini (again)…and in the meantime Kessel joined the battle, what an entertaining show!

In the front the position is quite static, and it was almost pit-stop time…the first of the “magic four” to pit was Piccini, handing over to Riccitelli, then Kessel to Chiesa then Monti to Drudi, the last one to swap over was Merzario, to Ferrari (in the Ferrari).

At 35 minutes, the Lister - after its pit-stop - lost some more pieces: the front bonnet…the right front bumper…some other parts… it seemed almost like a formula car, not a GT.

But the “almost formula-compact GT Lister” was black flagged by the marshal, so race was over for them…but what about the “magic four”? Chiesa was in front Riccitelli then Monti, while Ferrari (taking over from Merzario) was too far back. But “Riccio” is “on fire” and passed Chiesa for the third spot in N-GT (Pigoli and Berton first and second).

Just 10 minutes from the end the Viper of Baso / Cioci stopped at the end of the pit-lane (gearbox failure).

After another thrilling race (how many this year? Almost all) it was an easy win for Casè / Malucelli, the newcomer giving a big help to Casè and for his Championship ambitions. It was second for the new Championship leaders Matteuzzi / Perazzini, third for Sabatini / Spinelli then fourth overall and first in N-GT Pigoli / Galimberti who passed Berton / Piccolo on the last lap (at the line the two cars were separated by a mere four tenths!) then Bonaldi / Mastracci and the third in N-GT Riccitelli / Piccini.

Now the final two meetings (four races) will place at Misano (substituting for the Salzburgring round – July 18) then Vallelunga on September 19. Let’s have a look to the standings in all the classes.

1. Matteuzzi / Perazzini 142

2. Zonca / Lancellotti 132
3. Baso / Cioci 128
4. Casè 126
5. Mastracci 108

1. Kessel / Chiesa 169

2. Riccitelli 157
3. Monti / Drudi 117
4. Pigoli / Galimberti 116
5. Berton 113

1. Sada / Sala 198

2. Giudici / Raimondi 160
3. Corradi / Cipolli 155
Misano is a Ferrari track and with Malucelli partnering Casè the 575 will definitely be in the hunt but Vallelunga is a Lister track, and don’t count out the Viper of Baso / Cioci and of course the reigning champions Matteuzzi / Perazzini. In N-GT, everything can happen but realistically it will be a two horse battle 360 GTC vs. RSR.
Gabriele Tosi


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