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Jun 25, 2023

Cazzaniga and Petrov take Monza victory

The Italian GT Sprint Championship continued this weekend with a double header at Monza. VSR were present with three Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo 2 cars and a single Lamborghini Super Trofeo for Ignazio Zanon in the Am class. The driver line-ups were unchanged for the GT3 cars with Llarena and Moulin behind the wheel of the number 19 car, Cazzaniga and Petrov in the 60 and Liberati and Michelotto sharing the 63.

In Friday’s free practice sessions both categories were on track and traffic was an issue with 44 cars entered. The categories were divided for qualifying and the races and for the first GT3 race Petrov qualified the 60 car on the second row, just one tenth off pole in a very competitive session. There were problems for the 19 and 63 cars with Llarena losing all his laps for a sporting infringement. He lined up for race one at the back of the grid alongside Liberati who was forced to sit out qualifying with a technical problem.

Through a nail-biting first lap Petrov held on to third whilst Llarena and Liberati carved through the field to cross the line for the first time in tenth and eleventh places. By the end of lap four they were seventh and eighth and swapped places so Liberati could lead the charge to make up the four second gap to the leading pack. Setting the fastest lap of the race along the way Liberati was soon behind the battle for fourth place. The pit window opened on lap twelve and Liberati pitted immediately. Michelotto took over the 63 car after discounting a three second success handicap. A lap later Petrov stopped for Cazzaniga, the 60 car serving a twelve second success penalty. Last to stop was Llarena who handed the 19 car to Moulin for the final stint. When the pit window closed the VSR cars were running fifth, sixth and seventh. A late Safety Car for a crash between Nurmi and Ferrari bought out the Safety Car and racing resumed with five minutes to go. At the restart Cazzaniga took a trip down the escape road to avoid an accident and the VSR drivers took the chequered flag with Michelotto in fifth, Moulin in sixth and Cazzaniga just outside of the points.

Zanon was the top Am in the first GT Cup session, setting the second fastest time of the session and earning himself a front row start. A multi-car pile up on the first lap bought out the Safety Car for half an hour while the wreckage was cleaned up. The pit window opened as soon as the track went green. Zanon stopped immediately and had a twenty second success penalty to serve. Soon after he rejoined the track a wheel in the gravel ended his race and chassis damage terminated his participation in the Monza weekend.

Cazzaniga took a commanding pole position for race two of the GT3 category, his blistering lap three tenths quicker than the rest of the field. Moulin lined up on row four whilst the 63, this time with Michelotto behind the wheel, was once more forced to start from last place. Cazzaniga made a perfect start as Moulin survived a hairy moment when he was forced on to the grass but held on to ninth. By the end of the first lap Michelotto was already up to twelfth but racing was immediately put on hold as the Safety Car came on track whilst Pulcini was pulled from the gravel. After three laps racing resumed with ten minutes until the pit window. A faultless restart from Cazzaniga saw him hold the lead as Moulin moved up to seventh. A series of fastest laps from Cazzaniga allowed him to keep Klingmann at bay as Michelotto continued to move through the field, reaching eighth by the time the pit window opened. Michelotto pitted immediately for Liberati. The 63 car served a three second success penalty but was then delayed in the pits by a car slowing in the fast lane. Moulin pitted next and Llarena took over the 19 Lambo. Cazzaniga stayed out until the last seconds of the pit window and Petrov took the wheel of the 60 car and the lead of the race. A coming together by Denes and White further delayed Liberati who was the fastest on track as he tried to regain ground to White’s Ferrari. A fierce battle for fifth between Llarena and White ended on lap twenty and by then Liberati had caught the pair. He and Llarena swapped places as the race entered the final ten minutes. Out front Petrov was quick and consistent as he extended his lead to fifteen seconds to majestically take VSR’s first win of the season. Liberati took the flag fifth, which after post-race penalties became third, with Llarena in eighth.

The Italian GT Sprint Championship now takes a break until the end of September when racing resumes at Mugello. VSR will be back on track next weekend at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.