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Jul 19, 2020
VSR’s 2020 season finally got underway this weekend when Mugello hosted the first round of the Italian GT Endurance Championship. Two of the team’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo cars were entered in the Pro category: the number 19 car for Steven Aghakhani, Raffaele Giammaria and Leonardo Pulcini and the number 63 car for Danny Kroes, Frederik Schandorff and Tuomas Tujula.

Friday’s first free practice session was rendered mostly meaningless by heavy rain half an hour before the pit-lane opened. It was dry and sunny again for the second session allowing the drivers to finally get some useful track-time. The good weather continued for the rest of the weekend and after a final free practice session early on Saturday morning it was time for qualifying. Each driver took part in one of the three sessions and the grid was determined by the combined best laptimes of each car. The VSR Lambos qualified sixth and seventh with the 63 car taking a place on row three and the 19 car on row four.

Schandorff and Aghakhani took the start of the three-hour race. Schandorff made one of his typically aggressive opening laps, passing Roda and Michelotto and running side-by-side with Postiglione through the first sequence of corners. Aghakhani, who only just turned seventeen years old, slotted into seventh place. Whilst up-front Audi and BMW extended their lead Schandorff ran in the wheel-tracks of Postiglione’s Lamborghini and Aghakhani was keeping Michelotto honest, just one second back from the Ferrari. On lap twenty-one, minutes before the first pit window opened, Aghakhani took advantage of traffic to slide under Michelotto and take sixth place in an accomplished move. The youngster then quickly reeled in Roda before stopping to hand the 19 car over to Giammaria. Two laps later Schandorff pitted the 63 car and Kroes took over.

The Dutch driver enjoyed a solitary stint in fourth, demonstrating good race pace and keeping a constant gap to the battle for third. Giammaria ran briefly in fifth place, having jumped the number 71 car during the pit-stops, but with Rovera on board the Ferrari quickly became the fastest car on track and on lap forty-five he bumped Giammaria back down to sixth.  A tyre issue further hampered the number 19 Lamborghini and Giammaria used his experience to nurse the car through the final minutes of the second stint, stopping as soon as the pit window opened and letting Pulcini take the wheel. Two laps later Kroes pitted and Tujula took over the 63 car which during the pit window lost a place to the 71 Ferrari, now with Fuoco behind the wheel.

As the race headed into the final half hour Pulcini was seventh but gaining on the Mercedes of Ferrari. On lap eighty-eight he made a move to pass and although the two tangled Pulcini was able to claim the place and carry on without damage. Tujula’s consistent race pace kept the 63 car in fifth place when the chequered flag came out and Pulcini followed him home to take sixth.

The Championship continues at the end of August at Imola but in two week’s time the Sprint Championship will kick-off at Misano.