The vineyards overlooking the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari formed the perfect backdrop to open the new Italian GT Championship to. A week after many of the teams and drivers measured themselves against Europe’s top teams and drivers in the Blancpain GT Series at Monza, the centuries old town of Imola hosted the opening round of the 2018 Campionato Italiano Gran Turismo.
Race 1 on Saturday saw Giancarlo Fisichella in the Scuderia Baldini Ferrari 488 GT3 dominate the first stint of the 56-minute plus 1 lap race, running away with the lead until the time came to hand the Ferrari over to Stefano Gai. Gai, who has been a fixture at the front of Italian GT races in seasons past, was handed the perfect start to his stint as Fisichella had brought in the Ferrari with a margin of 20 seconds over second place. A safety car for a spun-off car, however, negated the advantage and brought the field back together. Despite a late charge from Lorenzo Veglia in the Antonelli Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3, Gai managed the 1-second gap he held over the Lambo to bring home the victory despite emerging vibrations on the Ferrari that caused the Milanese pilot to ease off.
Sunday’s race saw victory go to Audi Sport Italia. The Audi R8 LMS GT3 crew with drivers Bar Baruch and Marcel Fässler had something to make up for after a puncture on Saturday deprived the team of a podium result. Having won pole position, Baruch executed a perfect start and held on to the lead until the pitstops. Fässler took over for the remainder of the race in which he was faced with a charging Fisichella. Yesterday’s winner, however, was unable to force the three-time Le Mans 24 Hours champion into a mistake in the closing stages of the race. Despite his late push for the lead, time simply ran out for Fisichella and it was Fässler who took the chequers first. Antonelli Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 youngsters Daniel Zampieri (27 years old) and Giacomo Altoè (17 years old) rounded out the podium.
Photos by Davide Stori.