Winning start for Eugenio Amos and Cedric Leimer at Monza
Close racing, sensational debuts and a host of teams eager to do battle on track after the opening race weekend at Monza on 16-17 April 2011, confirms a highly competitive 2011 Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo season.
The 2010 Pro-Am Champion Eugenio Amos from Milan heads the series with 38 points after victories in rounds one and two, and was only denied a third on Sunday by Cedric Leimer‘s first solo victory in the #63 Autovitesse Garage R. Affolter Suisse car. The Italian lies just 11 points ahead of #22 Autocarrozzeria Imperiale S.R.L. driver and debutant Matteo Zucchi, who scored two podiums with team-mate, and 2009 Pro Champion, Fabio Babini. Babini now leads the Pro standings with 27 points.
Cedric’s brother, and series regular, Hervé Leimer was also in Monza driving the #24 Reiter entry with Dominique Lucas. Fellow series returnee Laurent Jenny piloted the #19 Autovitesse Garage R. Affolter Suisse car with countryman Rémy Vauthier.
Former Formula One driver Hans-Joachim Stuck was at Monza as a guest of Automobili Lamborghini. Michael Ruh, who was presented the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Rookie Award, was his team-mate in the #3 Bonaldi Motorsport car.
Stuck, who is also a two-times 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, was joined by his eldest son Johannes, who scored three podiums with Autosprint Editor-in-Chief Alberto Sabbatini in the #1 Automobili Lamborghini entry. Automobili Lamborghini VIP driver Luigi Ferrara and Italian Autocar Editor Giampaolo Tenchini shared the second car.
This year the series welcomes to the fold former Ferrari Challenge drivers Roberto Ragazzi and Gianluca Carboni for 2011, who will share the #80 Autocarrozzeria Imperiale S.R.L car, while Roberto Seveso makes his debut in the sister #20 car. Gravity-Charouz Racing also brings a host of debutants to the series this year. Swede Filip Sladecka and Czech driver Stepan Vojtech piloted the #99 entry at Monza, while Austrian Gerhard Tweraser made his debut in the #77 race car alongside a returning Petr Charouz. Jan Stovicek and newcomer Jakub Knoll round out the team’s line-up in the #88 car.
Guests were also invited to experience Monza’s high speeds straights at the wheel of their own Lamborghinis in a parade lap scheduled before the start of race three.
#69 Touringauto driver Eugenio Amos topped qualifying when he lapped the Nazionale Autodromo in 1:51.892, just 0.113s faster than Automobili Lamborghini VIP driver Hans Stuck in second. “I’m so happy about first position in qualifying,” said pole-sitter Amos. “I’m looking forward to doing my best in today’s races. It’s a busy weekend for me as I’m also racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series, so I’m looking forward to a lot of track time in the Lamborghini race cars.”
Reigning ADAC GT Masters Champion Peter Kox secured the third fastest time, leaving team-mate Nico Pronk with a second row starting position for race one in the #76 Reiter entry. Cedric Leimer finished the session fourth, while Babini’s 1:52.820 lap time netted team-mate Matteo Zucchi fifth place on the grid.
Amos transformed his pole position into an immediate lead heading into turn one, and was over a second ahead of the field when the pit window opened. Cedric Leimer made a good start and was running third in the early stages just behind Ruh in the #3 Bonaldi Motorsport entry. Amos retained his lead after the pit-stops, and led all the way to the flag.
“I tried to push to gain a little bit of gap between me and the other two cars,” said Amos. “I managed it and I’m here! It was a great race!”
Having started from the back row of the grid, Johannes Stuck charged through the field and even led for four laps before handing over to Sabbatini on lap 11, whose consistent lap times secured the pair second place.
“First of all I want to thank Lamborghini for giving me the chance to drive here,” said a delighted Johannes. “I had a lot of fun. Once all the cars had pitted I could catch Amos. Then I gave the car to Alberto and he did a fabulous job. When I handed over the car to him I knew we were going to finish on the podium. It was absolutely perfect!”
Joining them on the podium were Zucchi and Babini, who chased and caught Pro-Am driver Seveso in the #20 Autocarrozzeria Imperiale S.R.L entry. Seveso impressed with a fourth-placed finish on his debut, just ahead of Nico Pronk and Peter Kox.
Poleman Amos was beaten into turn one by fellow front row starter Johannes Stuck, who led comfortably until his pit-stop on lap 11.
Babini in the #22 entry posted a succession of personal best lap times and was soon past Amos on lap nine. At the pit-stops, both Amos and the #22 leapfrogged Stuck’s #1 car, putting Babini’s team-mate Zucchi into first.
Despite pressure from Amos, Zucchi started to pull away and headed into the final lap with a three-second lead. But with just half a lap to go, Zucchi’s left rear tyre punctured at turn five, and Amos was through for his second win of the weekend. Babini and Zucchi were eventually classified ninth.
“It’s been a brilliant start to the season,” said Amos. “I pushed to the limit today and had great races. In race two I was lucky because I was actually second when Zucchi got a puncture. But, racing is like this and I was very relieved. Phew!”
Roberto Seveso, continuing his competitive form, was elevated to second place for his first podium finish in only his second race start. Sabbatini was equally pleased with his second podium visit of the day in third.
“I preferred to drive second,” said Sabbatini. “Johannes made a fantastic race and my role was to complete the laps without making any mistakes, so I’m very happy. My pace was good. Always in the fifty-sixes.”
Hans Stuck, with Michael Ruh, finished just behind young Johannes Stuck in fourth. Kox and Pronk, having run as high as third, scored more points in fifth, just seven-tenths of a second ahead of Jenny and Vauthier.
The first four cars went side-by-side down the main straight at the rolling start. Poleman Amos in the #69 was shuffled back to fourth as Johannes Stuck took the lead into turn one. His father Hans, after contact with the #1 car going into the Variante del Rettifilo, ended the first lap in third. Peter Kox made a great start from the third row to move into second.
Hans Stuck battled hard with Kox before retiring with a puncture on lap seven, while eighth-placed Jakub Knoll defended against the hard-charging VIP driver Luigi Ferrara.
Just eight-tenths of a second separated the leaders, with Babini now in third, when the pit-stop window opened. Fifth-placed Cedric Leimer stayed out longer, and a series of fast laps meant he retained the lead after his pit-stop. He held it to the flag for his first victory since Hungaroring last year.
“It was a great race, I’m very happy,” said Cedric Leimer. “As a Pro-Am driver racing alone you feel a lot of pressure competing against professional drivers, especially at the start, but that is great learning.”
“In the Super Trofeo series I’ve driven alone, with Pro and Pro-Am drivers, so I’ve had lots of different experiences. But I prefer to drive alone. I love being on the track and alone you get a lot of time in the car.”
Gianluca Carboni, after a great charge from team-mate Riccardo Ragazzi from last place on the grid, was running second after the pit-stops, but began to slow with two laps of the race remaining. He first lost second to Zucchi on lap 20 and then third to Sabbatini in the #1 Automobili Lamborghini car on the final tour.
“It’s my first weekend in the Super Trofeo series, so overall I’m very happy with the weekend,” said Zucchi. “I was mindful to preserve the tyres and the car. Then when we caught the #80 car I thought ‘let’s go for it!’ And I did it!”
Carboni and Ragazzi still finished a very impressive fourth, ahead of points leader Amos who served a drive-through penalty early on.