New Challengers Emerge in the Ardennes
The Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo visited the infamous Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the 2011 season on 28-30 July, with a double race win for Erik Janiš and Jakub Knoll continuing Gravity-Charouz’s rise in the Teams’ Standings.
New faces joined the one-make series’ in the Ardennes, with highly-respected motorcycle racer turned sportscar driver Didier de Radiguès entering, as well as German journalist Christian Gebhardt from publication Sport Auto and Radical racer Fabio Fassitelli.
Frequent podium visitors Fabio Babini and Matteo Zucchi claimed victory in the opening race after winning from pole position, before the returning Janiš and 20-year-old Knoll won a dramatic second race.
There was further excitement in race three, where the Czech duo made it two in a row after sealing a lights to flag triumph. The new red colour scheme of the #1 Automobili Lamborghini VIP car crossed the line in second position after a three-way battle on the last lap.
Commenting on the #1 entry’s podium finish, Automobili Lamborghini President and CEO Stephan Winkelmann said: “Lamborghini always aims to surprise and excite. Red is the traditional colour of race cars in Italy: we are celebrating 150 years of Italian unity in our Super Trofeo series, which is the fastest one-make series in the world.”
Thursday’s qualifying session saw typical Spa-Francorchamps conditions: wet.
Babini set the session’s fastest time with his last lap of the session, while the #76 entry of Peter Kox and Nico Pronk clinched second. In his first outing of the season, Gravity-Charouz Racing’s Janiš took third place.
Fabio Babini and Matteo Zucchi earned their fourth victory of the season in a weather-affected opening race. Pro-Am driver Zucchi battled to keep the car in the top three during his opening stint, before handing control to Pro Drivers’ Standings leader Babini who charged to the front in a matter of laps.
Babini led to the chequered flag, while Gerard Tweraser and Filip Sladecka clinched second place ahead of Autocarozzeria Imperiale S.R.L.’s Gianluca Carboni and Riccardo Ragazzi when Luigi Ferrara retired from the race in the last lap.
“Matteo did a good job to stay near the front, especially at a tough circuit like Spa,” said Babini. “In qualifying we couldn’t get a real feel for the set-up as it was so wet. We made a compromise with the set-up, which wouldn’t have worked if the track had dried too much, but it did work and we have another good result for the team.”
Janiš and Knoll clinched their maiden victory in round 11, where a spectacular opening stint from Czech driver Janiš helped the #99 entry climb from eighth to first by lap six.
Knoll took over from his co-pilot, staying in front of the competition. Knoll continued around the seven-kilometre circuit to claim round 11 honours.
Behind the winning car was the Autocarozzeria Imperiale S.R.L. entry of Ragazzi and Carboni, who continued their fine form by securing second place, and Hervè Leimer, who made his first visit to the podium this season.
“It was a pretty good return to the series for me!” exclaimed Janiš. “We had good pace as we’d made some changes since this morning’s race. This race was much better.”
Pole-sitters Janiš and Knoll sealed their second successive victory of the weekend.
The Gravity-Charouz Racing duo produced a flawless to drive to claim victory in yet more wet conditions, finishing ahead of Lamborghini VIP drivers Ferrara and Fassitelli.
As with the weekend’s previous two races, Ragazzi and Carboni visited the podium with a third-place finish.
Knoll, who also received the weekend’s Rookie Award, was delighted: “My role was to maintain the gap today. I got in the car, was focused and we achieved a good result. I’m very happy to also win the Rookie Award, as I really wasn’t expecting this. It was a brilliant surprise to have two trophies on the podium.”
The 2011 Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo season resumes at Hockenheim, Germany, on 30 September – 2 October 2011.