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Sep 26, 2021

The penultimate round of the 2021 International GT Open Championship was held at Monza this weekend and VSR added a third Lamborghini to its line-up for the event. Giacomo Altoè and Federico Leo drove the new entry, car number 16, in the Pro class whilst the driver pairings remained unchanged for the other two cars - Baptiste Moulin and Yuki Nemoto behind the wheel of the 19 Huracán and Championship leaders Michele Beretta and Frederik Schandorff in the 63.

Leo, Moulin and Beretta took the VSR Lambos out for Saturday morning’s qualifying session in which Beretta claimed pole position on his home circuit. Leo qualified on row four and Moulin on row six in a close session which saw the top ten drivers covered by less than one second. Beretta made a textbook start from pole and held the lead as the field poured into the first chicane, despite receiving a hefty thump from Hites’s Ferrari behind him. Moulin rocketed up to seventh, crucially getting ahead of Championship rival Soucek in the Porsche, but a lap later some over enthusiastic braking left him with front end damage which caused him to retire. By lap eight Beretta had pulled out an impressive six second gap to the fight for second place but his advantage was eliminated when the Safety Car came out to extricate Leo from the gravel. The track went green again eight minutes before the pit window was due to open and Beretta put his foot down to try and build up another gap. On lap fifteen the pit window opened and Soucek, five seconds back from Beretta, was amongst the first to stop. Beretta followed him in a lap later and despite being the only Pro car with a success handicap Schandorff was still able to exit the pits ahead of Al Zubair, who was now behind the wheel of the Porsche, and two seconds behind Crestani’s Ferrari. Setting a series of fastest laps Schandorff caught the Ferrari and, taking advantage of some backmarkers, drew alongside Crestani and passed him around the outside under braking to take third. As the race entered the final fifteen minutes Schandorff began to reel in Guidetti’s Honda and by lap thirty-four was close enough to rob him of second place. The chequered flag came out four laps later and the runner-up spot was good enough for Beretta and Schandorff to extend their Championship lead over Soucek by another six points.

Sunday morning dawned under thunderous skies and after just five minutes of qualifying the track was soaked and improving lap times was impossible. The VSR drivers lined up for race two with Altoè in fourth, Nemoto in fifth and Championship leader Schandorff down in eleventh. The circuit had dried out by the time the race was due to start but heavy rain began to fall again as the formation lap started. Half the field, including Schandorff and Altoè, pitted for wets as the lights turned green. Nemoto, excelling in the tricky conditions, took the lead of the race and tip-toed around for a lap before coming in to change tyres. When the field settled down again the VSR cars were running in eighth, ninth and tenth headed by Schandorff who lead the way as they climbed back through the pack. By lap six he was up to fifth, having crucially passed Al Zubair, and started to build up a gap over the Porsche. The pit window opened on lap twelve and Schandorff pitted immediately, followed by Al Zubair, to discount his fifteen second success penalty. Beretta took over the VSR Lambo and Soucek the Porsche and the two exited the pits together with the VSR car just behind. On lap fourteen Nemoto stopped so Moulin could take over the 19 car and two laps later Altoè pitted for Leo. As the rain worsened and track conditions deteriorated there were frequent spins all through the field and on lap eighteen the Safety Car came out to rescue the stranded Leipert car. Racing resumed with twelve minutes left but however hard he tried Beretta could not find a way past Soucek and had to settle for taking the chequered flag in third place. After swapping places several times Leo finished in fifth and Moulin in seventh.
The Championship will go down to the wire with Beretta and Schandorff heading to the final round at Barcelona next month with a twenty-two point advantage over Soucek and thirty points up for grabs.