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Dec 02, 2016

Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Championship, Valencia European Final

The European finals closed the first two days of hectic racing at Valencia for the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo teams. Israeli driver Amir Krenzia in the number 67 Elephant liveried car went into the final round fighting for the overall honours in the Am Championship following his two wins in the previous round at the Nurburgring. VSR's number 66 car was entered in the Pro-Am category and was driven by Brazil's Nicolas Costa, fresh from winning the Super GT Championship in Italy, and China's Jia Tong Liang.

Days of incessant rain left the Spanish circuit wet and slippery when free practice began on Thursday morning. A dry line appeared slowly and drivers changed to slicks for the afternoon session. Qualifying took place late in the afternoon with the field divided into Am and Pro-Am/Pro groups. For race one Krenzia qualified 6th in Am and Costa, at the wheel of the 66 car, 3rd in Pro-Am just 0.3 seconds off the class pole.

The Am's raced by themselves for the first time at Valencia and Krenzia made a clean get away at the start of race one, maintaining 6th place. On the second lap he passed Hassin for 5th and from then on the top five pulled away. Barely six seconds covered them when the pit stop window opened and Krenzia was one of the first to stop. A lap later his main championship rivals ducked into the pits and when the window closed Krenzia was running in 4th but a spin on lap twenty with eighteen minutes to go pushed him down to 8th. One of the fastest drivers on the track in the closing stages Krenzia caught up to the leaders and passed Bartels for 7th but couldn't make up further places with the time left on the clock. With his main Championship rivals finishing ahead of him he slipped to 3rd in the Championship.

Krenzia started from the second row for the final European race which was neutralised behind the safety car on the first lap for a five car crash. After four laps racing resumed and Krenzia, in 2nd place, was battling hard with Championship leader Shahin. Barely a second covered them as they headed into the middle stage of the race. Krenzia made his stop on lap fourteen and Shahin followed him in two laps later. They were soon fighting again but Shahin was able to keep ahead of Krenzia who took the flag in 2nd place. His points haul was enough to give him 2nd in the Am drivers Championship.

Costa started the 66 car's first race of the weekend and the Brazilian ran well in the leading group, lapping at the same pace as the Pro drivers ahead of him. One of the last drivers to pit his pace was such that he handed the car over to Liang in the lead of the Pro-Am class. Liang was passed by Kang early in his stint but held on to 2nd ahead of Fontana and Dovizioso to claim a fine podium finish.

The starting driver for race two was Liang and he lined up on row eight. At the end of lap one he was running in 7th and on lap eight gained a place when Fontana made an error and slipped down the field. After tailing Moore for several laps Liang passed him and moved into 5th just before the pit window opened. Costa took over and lapping as quickly as the leading Pro's fought his way through to 3rd in Pro-Am.

With the European Championship finished attention now turns to the World Final this weekend. VSR will field two cars in Am for Krenzia and Liang.