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Jul 25, 2021

Brace of podiums for Beretta and Schandorff keeps VSR on top

International GT Open, Round 4 - Imola

The 2021 International GT Open Championship touched down at Imola this weekend, VSR’s home track. The Forlì based team fielded an unchanged driver line-up in its two Pro category Lamborghini Huracán GT3 cars. At the wheel of the number 19 were Baptiste Moulin and Yuki Nemoto whilst the number 63 was driven by Championship leaders Michele Beretta and Frederik Schandorff.

Beretta and Nemoto were in charge of the VSR Lamborghinis for Saturday morning’s qualifying session and despite making only one run Beretta parked the 63 car on the front row. Nemoto lined up two rows further back in sixth position. At the start of the race Beretta slotted into second place behind Spinelli and Nemoto found a way round Paveraud for fifth before setting about harrassing Ferrari and Soucek ahead of him. The three remained separated by less than one second throughout the early part of the race until Nemoto fell back leaving Soucek and Ferrari to vainly chase down Beretta. On lap seventeen the pit window opened and Beretta pitted immediately to discount his hefty twenty second success handicap from the previous races and hand the 63 Lamborghini over to Schandorff. Four laps later Soucek, Beretta and Schandorff’s main rival for the title, pitted and Al Zubair took over. With no success handicap the Omani driver got ahead of Schandorff but the Dane was already the fastest man on track and started immediately eating into the seven second gap to the Porsche. Nemoto entered the pits on lap twenty-four just before the pit window closed and Moulin took over for the rest of the race. By lap thirty-four Schandorff had Al Zubair’s Porsche in sight and as the race entered the final ten minutes the pair were running nose to tail. Four laps later Schandorff made a move around the outside of the Porsche at the entrance to Tamburello and went on to take the chequered flag in second to extending the 63 car’s  Championship lead by a further two points. Moulin finished fifth.

Schandorff and Moulin qualified the cars for Sunday’s race in a close session which saw Schandorff take VSR’s first pole of the season, beating Agostini by the slimmest of margins. Moulin secured a place on row four for the sister car. Schandorff held the lead when the lights went green, keeping ahead of a fast-starting Millroy. On lap three Agostini was helped into a spin by Spinelli, moving Moulin up to sixth. Spinelli, now running third, was two seconds back from Schandorff and Millroy but a light rain shower that lasted several laps hampered his progress and he wasn’t able to pass Millroy until lap ten and couldn’t get close to Schandorff who continued his faultless drive out front. At the beginning of lap fifteen the pit window opened and Moulin pitted immediately so Nemoto could take over the 19 Lamborghini. Two laps later Schandorff pitted and after discounting another twenty second handicap Beretta rejoined the race. By the time the pit window closed he and Nemoto were the fastest drivers on track. Beretta was lying second, seven seconds back from Soucek’s Porsche and Nemoto was running fifth. This quickly became fourth when the Japanese driver caught and passed Iribe’s McLaren. Lap by lap Beretta ate into Soucek’s lead and with ten minutes to go the gap was down to four seconds, with five minutes to go it was under two seconds but there were not enough laps to left for the Italian to make a meaningful attempt to pass. He took the chequered flag in second place with Nemoto in fourth. Soucek’s win allowed him to close up to within five points of Beretta and Schandorff in the standings.

The International GT Open Championship now takes a break until the end of the summer with action is set to resume at the start of September at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.