Italian GT Championship, Misano
For the Misano round of the Italian GT Championship Nicolas Costa’s team-mate Fernando Croce was sadly absent, still recovering from the horrific Imola crash a fortnight before when he was hit from behind while stationary at the side of the track. His place in the 106 Lamborghini Huracán was taken by Israeli driver Amir Krenzia making his debut in the Italian GT Championship. The driver line up for the 105 Lamborghini remained unchanged with Bar Baruch and Jia Tong Liang sharing the car.
The VSR Lamborghini's were driven by the pairings of Costa/Krenzia and Baruch/Liang
VSaturday morning's qualifying ended with an astounding double pole position for the VSR team. Costa took a dominant pole in Q1 – his lap-time, two seconds quicker than the rest of the field, allowed him to follow the final minutes of the session from the pit-wall. Q2 saw Baruch out-qualify experienced Lamborghini factory driver Zaugg by a convincing margin to take pole for Sunday’s race.
Threatening skies welcomed the cars to the grid for Saturday’s race but nothing was capable of stopping Costa and Krenzia from claiming another dominant victory for VSR. Costa started the car and took off with intent from pole position, creating a gap to the rest of the field of an astonishing nine seconds in two laps. His lead was abolished when the Safety Car was called out for oil on the track and when racing resumed with thirty-nine minutes left he had it all to do again. Setting consecutive fastest laps and running consistently three seconds a lap faster than his rivals he pulled out a thirty-five second lead before handing the 106 Lamborghini over to Krenzia. The Israeli driver joined the race under tricky conditions as rain had started to fall making sections of the circuit treacherous and slippery. Krenzia held his nerve and making no mistakes took the chequered flag in first place.
Liang started the sister VSR car from row three and after the safety car period was running in 3rd. He pulled away from Magli and set about chasing down Mantovani, passing him for second three laps before the pit window opened. Liang bought the car in to the pits and handed it over to Baruch just as the rain started to fall. Baruch was caught out by the weather, spinning out of contention.
Thunder peeled overhead as the cars lined up on an already wet track for Sunday’s race. Baruch started from pole with Krenzia in sixth. The race started behind the Safety Car and the field was released with 42 minutes left. Krenzia was quick to make a move, pouncing on Kasai and taking 5th place. At the head of the field Baruch streaked away, closely followed by Zaugg. The pair were closely matched but Baruch kept ahead and when the pit window opened had succeeded in pulling out several seconds advantage over the Lamborghini factory driver.
Heavy rain started to fall as the cars filtered in to change driver. Costa took over from Krenzia and with the handicap from victory in race one found himself with a deficit to the leaders of over a minute. Baruch pitted at the same time as Zaugg, handing the 105 car over to Liang who inherited a comfortable lead after Zaugg’s team-mate spun on his out-lap. Liang drive faultlessly in the tricky conditions and took the chequered flag to claim the pair’s first win. Costa put in a mesmerising stint to finish 2nd, reducing the gap to the front of the field to just a handful of seconds by the end of the race and putting himself once more at the top of the Driver’s Championship.
The Italian GT Championship will reconvene in one month’s time at Mugello whilst the VSR Lamborghini's will be racing in a fortnight's team at Paul Ricard for the third round of the European Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Championship.
The whole VSR team would like to take this opportunity to wish Fernando Croce a speedy recovery.