The Italian GT Sprint round at Imola witnessed a weekend of high drama and intense racing. Saturday saw the #85 Lamborghini of Imperiale Racing dominate, only to face a shocking disqualification post-race. Sunday brought redemption as the same team clinched victory in a thrilling, rain-soaked Race 2.

Race 1

Saturday at the Imola circuit started under a summer sun, with air temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius and track temperatures soaring to degrees Celsius. As the race began, the #85 Imperiale Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 set an impressive pace right from the start. Building on their strong qualifying performance, Philippes Denes quickly pulled ahead, leaving no chance for Mattia Michelotto in the #66 Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini to catch up.

At the driver change, Denes handed over the #85 Lamborghini to his teammate Jack Bartholomew with nearly a 5-second lead. Bartholomew emerged from the pits and pushed even harder, widening the gap further. The Lamborghini crossed the finish line first, followed by Michelotto and Gilles Stadsbader’s #66 Huracán of Vincenzo Sospiri Racing, and the #99 Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Tresor Audi Sport Italia driven by Leonardo Moncini and Andrea Cola. None of the competing crews could match the performance of the winners.

Just off the podium, Riccardo Cazzaniga and Antonio Di Folco in the #19 Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini finished a strong race. Cazzaniga fiercely contested his stint against Konsta Lappalainen in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3, Daniele Di Amato in the #88 Ferrari 296 of AF Corse, and Jake Dennis in the #7 Team Ceccato Motors BMW M4. The drivers of Easy Race also performed excellently, especially 19-year-old Enzo Trulli, son of former F1 driver Jarno Trulli. Enzo, driving the #22 Ferrari 296, made a remarkable recovery, gaining ten positions in his stint and finishing fifth, ahead of the second Audi driven by Rocco Mazzola and Pietro Delli Guanti and the BMW M4 of Federico Malvestiti and Ebrahim Carvahlo.

With about 2 minutes remaining, the race was halted following an accident at the Villeneuve corner involving the #63 Lamborghini of Vincenzo Sospiri Racing and the #52 AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3, who were battling for fifth position. The incident forced the race director to display the red flag.

In a dramatic twist, the Denes-Bartholomew team driving the Lamborghini #85 of Imperiale Racing was disqualified in the evening due to their car being underweight in post-race technical checks. As a result, Michelotto and Stadsbader in the #66 Lamborghini of Vincenzo Sospiri Racing were declared the winners of Race 1. Moncini and Cola in the Tresor Audi Sport Italia R8 took second place, and Cazzaniga and Di Folco in the #19 Lamborghini Huracán were promoted to third.

Race 2

Sunday at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari brought cloudy skies and cooler temperatures than Saturday. The race was declared wet at the start due to the threatening rain. Despite the conditions, all drivers opted for slick tires.

As the race commenced, the #85 Lamborghini initially took the lead but missed the entry at the Tamburello corner, allowing Klingmann in the #7 BMW M4 GT3 of Ceccato Motors to capitalize on a brilliant start and take the lead. Throughout the first stint, Delli Guanti in the #12 Tresor Audi Sport Italia Audi R8 GT3 attempted to overtake Di Folco in the #19 Vincenzo Sospiri Racing Lamborghini.

After the driver change, Denes got in the #85 Lamborghini and despite the challenging conditions, he managed to regain the lead. The rain claimed its first victim when Stefano Marazzi in the #74 Ferrari 296 GT3 of Team Rossocorsa went off track at the Villeneuve curve and hit the wall. With around 16 minutes remaining, the Safety Car was deployed to allow the safe removal of the Ferrari. As the rain intensified, several drivers pitted for wet tires, while others chose to stay on slicks.

With 7 minutes left, the rain lessened, and the Safety Car returned to the pits, allowing the race to restart. Lappalainen made a spectacular overtaking move in his AF Corse Ferrari, passing Rocco Mazzola in the #12 Tresor Audi Sport Italia at the Tosa corner, securing a spot on the podium.

The victory in Race 2 went to Denes and Bartholomew in the #85 Imperiale Racing Lamborghini, a satisfying comeback after their disqualification in Race 1. Dennis and Klingmann in the #7 BMW M4 GT3 of Ceccato Racing finished second, with Lappalainen and Nurmi in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari taking third. The top ten was rounded out by Moulin-Fabi in the #63 Lamborghini of Vincenzo Sospiri Racing, Berto-Jelmini in the #55 Nova Race Honda, Bontempelli-Trulli in the #22 Ferrari of Easy Race, and Di Giusto-Alatalo in the #5 Aston Martin of L&A Infinity.

Report by Alessio Romanò.


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