Italian Super GT Championship, Mugello
Tuomas Tujula and Aaro Vainio took VSR's second consecutive Italian GT title by winning from the front at Mugello. Cazzaniga and D'Amico took their fifth win of the season in race two and VSR completed an historic 1-2-3 in the Drivers’ Championship.
Heading into the final round of the Italian GT Championship the three VSR entries were 1-2-3 in the Championship with Finnish drivers Tujula and Vainio holding a slim two-point advantage over Italians Cazzaniga and D’Amico. They in turn were only four points ahead of Liang and Ortiz who sat eighteen points ahead of the only remaining non-VSR contender, Desideri.
Glorious autumn sunshine welcomed the drivers as they headed out for Saturday morning’s qualifying session. Liang, Vainio and Cazzaniga were charged with setting the grid for race one and it was Vainio who set the early pace. The Finn looked all set to record his fifth pole of the season until Cazzaniga, with a perfect lap, pipped him by 0.2 seconds to form an all VSR front row. Liang’s best time was good enough for a place on row three.
Cazzaniga and Vainio led into the first corner and completed the next sequence of corners side by side, racing cleanly and with respect, before Cazzaniga was speared by Desideri and taken out of the race. Desideri’s action not only ruined Cazzaniga and D’Amico’s title hopes but also put paid to a three-way fight for the Championship in the last race on Sunday. Vainio began to immediately pull away and setting a series of fastest laps built up a four second gap to Pastorelli and Kasai in 2nd and 3rd places. When the pit window opened he came straight in to hand the lead of the race over to Tujula and was followed down pit road by Liang. The Chinese driver swapped with Ortiz who discounted the pair’s fifteen second success handicap before leaving the pits. On lap sixteen a safety car intervention closed up the field and racing resumed with just over ten minutes left. Tujula quickly pulled away from Bonacini while Ortiz and De Marchi battled their way through the lapped cars and scrapped over fifth place. Tujula took the win by 4.5 seconds, a victory which moved himself and team-mate Vainio out of reach at the top of the Championship. Ortiz finished 4th meaning the battle for 2nd in the Championship would go down to the wire with just four points separating himself and Liang from Cazzaniga and D’Amico.
Tujula topped qualifying for race two, beating Ortiz to the pole by just 0.03 seconds to guarantee another all VSR front row for the season finale. D’Amico, just 0.3 seconds off pole, qualified on the second row. When the lights went green the three VSR drivers were quick to take to the front, demoting Basz to 4th. Ortiz led from D’Amico and Tujula who on lap three, just as the safety car came out, slipped down to 7th. At the restart Ortiz and D’Amico were quick to make a gap to Bonacini running in 3rd while Tujula set fastest lap as he pushed to work his way back through the field. He passed De Marchi just before the pit window opened and came immediately in to give his car to Vainio. Following Saturday’s win they had a fifteen second success handicap and rejoined in 13th place. A lap later D’Amico, running less than two seconds behind the leader, pitted for Cazzaniga who two laps later set the fastest lap of the race. The Italian’s pace allowed him to leap-frog Liang who took over from Ortiz when he pitted from the lead on lap fifteen, just as the pit window closed. While Cazzaniga led comfortably Liang soon came under pressure from Desideri in third and Vainio who had been pushing hard. With five minutes left to go Desideri found a way past but second place was not enough to allow him to break VSR’s dominance at the top of the Championship standings. Cazzaniga-Damico’s fifth win of the season, more than any other crew, secured them second in the Championship with Liang-Ortiz finished in third place.
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