22nd April, 2018 – European Lamborghini Super Trofeo, Monza
Takashi Kasai and Philipp Wlazik kicked off their 2018 season in style with a class win in race one at Monza followed by fourth place in race two, leaving them class leaders as the Championship heads to Silverstone next month.
Forty-eight Lamborghini Huracan EVO cars and eighty-five drivers did battle at Monza this weekend in the opening round of the European Lamborghini Super Trofeo Championship. With fine and sunny weather all weekend it was traffic that presented the drivers with the most significant problem, especially in the short twenty-minute qualifying sessions on Saturday morning. Setting the times in the VSR cars for race one were Tujula, Koller, Wlazik and Necchi. At the end of the session, which was interrupted by a five-minute full course yellow at the halfway point, it was Wlazik who was the top VSR qualifier. The German in the Pro-Am entry was sixth fastest overall, third in class. Six places further back was Tujula in the Pro car whilst the other Pro-Am entry driven by Koller was seventeenth, eighth in class, with Necchi two places behind and the second fastest Am driver.
At the start of Saturday’s race three of the VSR cars survived the chaos of the opening lap but Koller slipped down to thirty-second. The Swiss driver quickly recovered and after seven laps was up to twenty-seventh, running just behind Necchi who had lost places after being hit from behind on lap five. Up front Tujula was on a charge and from twelfth on the grid had worked his way up to eighth, behind team-mate Wlazik, passing Boguslavsky, Altoe, Mauron and Lauck. On lap eight he passed Wlazik and the two VSR drivers pushed hard to catch the leading group. By the time the pit window had opened they were right behind Spinelli and quickly overtook last year’s Champion to move into fifth and sixth. On the same lap Necchi and Koller dived into the pits to give their Huracans to Lewandowski and Liberati. Two laps later Tujula and Wlazik swapped with Ortiz and Kasai. The closure of the pit window coincided with a five-lap safety car period. Racing resumed with just five minutes left and the VSR cars were looking set for good results with Ortiz running third, Kasai leading Pro-Am in fifth and Lewandowski and Liberati ready to charge through the field. Ortiz’s podium hopes were short lived however when the FIA valve, a new requirement for the 2018 season, closed at the restart leaving him stranded at the first corner. Two laps later the same issue ended Lewandowski’s race. On the penultimate lap the race-leader Basz pulled up with the same problem and such was the extent of the issue that only twenty-four cars took the chequered flag on the lead lap. The remaining two VSR cars were unaffected and Kasai finished fourth overall and claimed a fine Pro-Am victory for himself and Wlazik. Liberati finished eleventh, fourth in Pro-Am.
Liberati led the way in qualifying for Sunday’s race, setting the third fastest time of the session and earning a place on the second row. Ortiz was eleventh while Lewandowski claimed the Am pole with the fourteenth quickest time. Kasai took a spot on row nine and was seventh in Pro-Am. The start was clean, with only Kasai losing a few places at the first corner, and the race proceeded with the cars one behind the other until lap ten when a safety car period delayed the opening of the pit window. Green flag racing resumed on lap thirteen and Ortiz was quick to make up a place, passing Pull, as the pit window opened. The first VSR driver to stop was Kasai, giving the Pro-Am Huracan to Wlazik. A lap later Ortiz changed with Tujula and on lap sixteen Liberati, who had been keeping Basz honest at the head of the field, gave his car to Koller and Necchi took over the AM leading car from Lewandowski. As the race entered the final stages Tujula was in fourth, all over the back of Kujala and Abkhazava who were scapping over second. On lap twenty-one Tujula claimed third only for Kujala to tip him into a spin causing him to lose fourteen places. Wlazik caught up to Koller who had been swamped by Pro cars as he exited the pits and the pair swapped places before running together to the chequered flag to finish fourth and fifth in class. Am victory looked to be a certainty for Necchi until a mistake at Ascari on the final lap let Giannoni past to steal the class honours.
After the Monza round VSR leads the Pro-Am championship with Kasai and Wlazik and is second in Am with Lewandowski and Necchi. The next round of the European Lamborghini Super Trofeo Championship will be at Silverstone next month.