Italian GTs – Final Round – Vallelunga
The last pair of Italian GT races of the season, the last ones on the old configuration at the Vallelunga track near Rome: during the winter the new track extension will be completed in order to cope with F1 tests.

As already reported, only the GT Class remained to be decided, the N-GT title going to Chiesa / Kessel in their Ferrari 360 GTC, and GT3 honurs went to Sada / Sala (911 GT3 Cup).

In qualifying Zonca and Lancellotti took no prisoners in the Lister Storm and took pole for both races, while their major rivals (18 pts down in the standings, 172 versus 154) Perazzini / Matteuzzi took second on the grid for both races.

On the second row for the first race were Scassellati / Sangiuolo and Mastracci / Bonaldi (both Vipers) while in race 2’s second row featured Cioci / Spinelli (welcome back after the huge shunt at Misano) and Mastracci / Bonaldi…. no Saleen present (as we suspected).

The JMB 550 didn’t set a qualifying time after a shunt in free practice. In N-GT pole went to Chiesa and Kessel in both sessions, while the GT3 poles both went to the Maserati Light of Corradi / Cipolli.

Heavy rain was expected…. but didn’t arrive.

The 2004 Italian Championship has provided ample proof that nothing in this series is predictable – and so it proved again.

Race 1
18 cars took the green flag for the first race, in pleasant midday sunshine.

“The Championship is not yet over,” said Stefano Zonca before the start – and he was right. The big problem was likely to be tyre wear, Vallelunga being notoriously hard on rubber.

At the green flag down, Zonca lost the sprint to Matteuzzi, the two rivals followed by Cioci, Mastracci then Riccitelli (first in N-GT) and Scassellati. Lap by lap Matteuzzi was gradually easing away from a careful Zonca, who was secure in second ahead of Mastracci, who had passed Cioci.

Behind the leading cars a big group N-GT cars were having a good scrap – Groppi led Merzario, Francescon and LaMazza, the ‘ever young’ Arturo having a good old go at passing the Autorlando Porsche.

On lap 8, Cioci parked one Viper just before the Roma Curve and Scassellati parked another in an escape road. In the meantime Chiesa and Lancieri (Pigoli’s partner this weekend) werehaving a door to door battle, with the Porsche having the upper hand…for now.

Casè (550) was suddenly up to fourth overall, from the back of the grid, while Berton passed Pigoli for second in N-GT, Chiesa now out front.

After 24 minutes, Merzario stopped his black 360 GTC on the main straight, on fire, but the fifty something year old hopped out and helped the marshals to extinguish the flames. A Safety Car was dispatched, just before the pit window opened, but as it was withdrawn, the black Lister was in the pitlane for the driver change: perhaps a mistake for the Lister team?

At 35 minutes, just before the pit window closed, the incident that could decided the championship occurred: the Lister was stuck in the pit with starter problems, and despite the best efforts from the Italian and the English mechanics there wass no way to get back into the race, so 0 pts for the black machine, and what should have been a relative cruise to the finish became a nightmare:… and the ghosts from last year were now more than a threat for Zonca.

The race for the overall win is almost over? Well not quite, because after the demon stint of Casè his partner Toto Wolff was chopping away seconds from the #1 Viper of Perazzini, while in N-GT Quester was leading by.almost.nothing from Kessel and Berton. At 40 minutes, a spin from Perazzini left Bonaldi in the black Viper in the lead and Wolff almost all over the #1 Viper. But at the Tornantino, Perazzini touched Bonaldi several times, only to spun out him in the next curve - a very bad move which was punished by a stop and go for the current Champion.

So with some help from the other drivers, Wolff (550) was in the lead followed by Perazzini with Bonaldi in the Vipers – and with cars, drivers and tyres struggling in the hot conditions, that’s the way it stayed..

With so much happening we lost the move from Kessel to Quester and the retirement of Pigoli in the EbiMotors 996 and the Maserati Light of Corradi / Cipolli
Nothing change until the end, with cars and drivers struggling with the very hot conditions. So Casè / Wolff win in front of Bonaldi / Mastracci and Matteuzzi / Perazzini third.

Winning N-GT, and fourth overall, were Kessel / Chiesa, followed by Berton / Francescon, who passed Riccitelli / Quester during the final laps of the race. In GT3 it was again a Maserati victory for Giudici / Raimondi.

With this result the GT standings read Zonca / Lancellotti 172 pts, Perazzini / Matteuzzi 169 pts and Casè 163 pts. Everything to play for.

Race 1 Result
1. Casè / Wolff 550 45 laps in 1:00.45.192
2. Matteuzzi / Perazzini Viper at 8.372
3. Mastracci / Bonaldi Viper at 21.944
4. Kessel / Chiesa 360 GTC at 35.917
5. Berton / Francescon 360 GTC at 59.790
6. Riccitelli / Quester 996 RSR at 1:05.925
10 Giudici / Raimondi Maserati at 2 laps

Race 2
The unpredictable happened again: for the second consecutive year, Stefano Zonca, this year racing with Angelo Lancellotti lost the Championship not only in the last race, but in the last laps of it.

Zonca / Lancellotti with 172 pts needed to finish in front of Matteuzzi / Perazzini, or third as long as the #1 Viper didn’t win the race.

At the start, 16 cars took the green flag, and this time Lancellotti had the upper hand from the two white Vipers. Cioci was not only alongside his teammate Perazzini but passed him in the Cimini 1 Curve. In N-GT Monti passed Lancieri, then it was LaMazza and Berton.

Soon Perazzini recovered the gap to team-mate Cioci and thanks to some braking problems on the #3 Viper passed him at the Tornantino. Meanwhile at the front Lancellotti was ‘a man on fire’, disappearing at almost a second per lap.

Casè starting at the back of the grid again in the 550 was recovering fast and was soon into the top six.

The Lister tactic was clear as Angelo explained before the start: “I’m going pedal to the metal until 37 minutes, to leave as big a gap as I can for Stefano.”

Within 10 minutes Lancellotti was almost 10 seconds ahead of Cioci, who was still under big pressure from Perazzini, then Bonaldi, Casè and the first in N-GT Monti…while Kessel was recovering fast from a spin and passed Quester with a little touch…and punched the air in anger when Groppi closed the door in the Tornantino.

Quester was the first to hand over his car, to Riccitelli, then the title contender Perazzini left the wheel to Matteuzzi. Perazzini had been trying to conserve the Viper for Gabriele Matteuzzi.

At the 30 minute mark Lancellotti was still lapping quickly, but not quite as fast as at the beginning. Just before the 37 minutes elapsed, Lancellotti dived into the pits, Zonca jumpe in…and stalled the car. The V12 refired straight away, and Zonca blasted away with a lot of tyre smoke.

Lancellotti explained that he had pushed as hard as he could – but with the slight delay, Zonca had a 15 second advantage over Matteuzzi. Will it be enough, with 12 laps remaining?

In N-GT Berton was absolutely flying away to the win, while behind him Pigoli and Chiesa were having their usually good (and rude) scrap for the position… with Riccitelli joining the pair some laps later, and passing Chiesa.

Zonca seemed to have the upper hand, losing less than a second per lap, but the big Viper was inching closer… until with just 15 minutes to go, the Lister was struggling to pass a Maserati Light and the 360 of Drudi, and behind him Matteuzzi was getting very close.

It was the power steering playing up on the Lister, and Zonca, ever the gentleman, waved Matteuzzi by on the back straight. Zonca hung on to second place, but it wasn’t enough.

Baso and Mastracci fought for third place, a battle won by Mastracci.

In N-GT Berton / Linossi finished in front of Monti / Drudi and Riccitelli / Quester. Cipolli / Corradi won in the GT3 class.

Perazzini: “Just at the last moment we managed to win. It’s awesome I’m very happy, honour to the losers, but we did it!”

Poor Stefano Zonca was almost in tears…how can we blame him?
Gabriele Tosi

Race 2 Result

1. Matteuzzi / Perazzini Viper in 1’00:04.954 47 laps
2. Zonca / Lancellotti Lister at 2.560
3. Mastracci / Bonaldi Viper at 11.138
4. Cioci / Spinelli Viper at 12.566
5. Berton / Linossi 360 GTC at 41.931
6. Casè / Wolff 550 at 54.959
7. Monti / Drudi 360 Modena at 1 lap

12 Cipolli / Corradi Maserati at 3 laps

Final Standings
1. 1. Matteuzzi / Perazzini 189 pts

2. 2. Zonca / Lancellotti 187 pts
3. 3. Casè 169 pts
4. 4. Mastracci 159 pts


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