Ferrari stalwart AF Corse took its first win of the season in the Italian GT Championship with a dominant flag-to-flag victory for the #71 Ferrari 488 GT3. The trio of Alessio Rovera, Giorgio Roda and Antonio Fuoco were untouchable for the rest of the field in the three-hour endurance race at Imola.
Ebimotors also put on a one-man show of its own in the GT4 class with drivers Paolo Gnemmi, Sabino De Castro and Riccardo Pera taking the win in the #250 Porsche 971 Cayman GT4.
Alessio Rovera left no chance for the competition as he led the 18-car field to the green and immediately ran off. Second-placed Kikko Galbiati in the #32 Imperiale Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 tried to hold on for as long as he could but was unlucky as he jumped the high kerbs at Variante Alta and hit the tyre barriers without coming to a stop, losing his rear wing in the process. Only when braking for Rivazza would he learn the rear wing was gone as he spun into the gravel ending his race within just a handful of laps.
After recovery of the Lamborghini was completed and the safety car pulled off, Rovera continued to control the race with now the #3 Easy Race Ferrari 488 GT3 of Mattia Michelotto following at a distance. Stefano Comandini had moved his #7 BMW Team Italia M6 GT3 up into third but was soon challenged by Danny Kroes. Initially, Comandini held firm but after the slightest of mistakes the driver of the #63 Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 forced his way through in the run up to Rivazza. Daniele Di Amato, racing the #25 RS Racing Ferrari 488 GT3, took his chance a lap later, moving into fourth place with a similar but less forceful move.
Kroes, however, soon saw his excellent pace interrupted when the front hood of his car came lose and was forced to pit for repairs before the opening of the pit window. This left Di Amato alone in vying with Michelotto for second place, pulling off the move 44 minutes into the race at the fast Piratella turn.
The second hour saw Giorgio Roda take over from Rovera and continue to lead aboard the AF Corse Ferrari. Leonardo Pulcini, meanwhile, took fourth place at the expensive of the #7 BMW Team Italia – now driven by Marius Zug – as the Vincenzo Sospiri Racing #19 Lamborghini continued to climb the standings.
Whereas Michelotto had earlier lost second place to Di Amato, his teammate Matteo Greco was looking to correct the running order. Putting the red #25 RS Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 under pressure, Alessandro Vezzoni finally made the one small mistake Greco was searching for and successfully drag-raced Vezzoni out of Piratella. Vezzoni, suffering from brake problems throughout his stint, would later find Pulcini on his rearwing as well, yielding to the Lambo after a quick and decisive move by the 22-year-old. Pulcini, however, suffered an electrical problem on the final lap of his stint and lost valuable time.
With the second and final round of pitstops out of the way, the sprint to the finish began. The #63 Lamborghini – having made an unscheduled and extra pitstop in the first hour – returned to the front at the hands of Frederik Schandorff. The Dane had taken over from Tuomas Tujula who was put in charge of the Lambo for the middle stint where he continued Kroes’ march through the field. Cycling back into third place after the pitstops, Schandorff wasn’t content yet and pushed on to take second from Sean Hudspeth in the Pro-Am-entered #3 Easy Race Ferrari with 17 minutes remaining.
The pitstops shakeup also saw the #7 BMW Team Italia move back up the order and slot into fourth place at the hands of Bruno Spengler, with both the #63 Lambo and #7 BMW’s progress coming at the expense of the trouble-hit #25 RS Racing Ferrari and #19 Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini who were relegated to fifth and sixth at the finish respectively.
While behind him teams were fighting for positions, Ferrari works driver Fuoco stayed the course and increased the gap to bring the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 its first victory of 2020. A ten-second penalty for a pitstop irregularity had no effect on the results as Fuoco was classified a comfortable 45 seconds in front of Vincenzo Sospiri Racing’s Schandorff.
GT4 class victory went to the #250 Ebimotors Porsche 971 Cayman GT4. Paolo Gnemmi, Sabino De Castro and Riccardo Pera were equally untouchable for the rest of the field after a short battle with the polesitting #215 BMW Team Italia M4 GT4 gave them the lead in the opening minutes.
Luca Magnoni and Tobia Zarpellon finished second in the #277 Nova Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4, switching positions on the podium with #215 BMW Team Italia pilots Francesco Guerra, Simone Riccitelli and Nicola Neri after the latter received a two-minute post-race time penalty for a pitstop infringement.
On 18-20th September Vallelunga hosts the third round of the Italian GT Endurance Championship. After their victory at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, AF Corse’s Fuoco, Roda and Rovera lead the GT3 championship with 27 points, followed by Mugello race winners Riccardo Agostini and Daniel Mancinelli who had a fairly anonymous weekend in Imola where they finished seventh in the Audi Sport Italia R8 LMS GT3 joined by Vito Postiglione.
Gnemmi, De Casto and Pera continue to lead the GT4 Pro-Am standings in the Ebimotors Porsche with their second win of the season.
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