The visit of Aston Martin Racing chairman David Richards, who arrived in the Solaris box on Friday morning and stayed followed with the team the two free practice sessions, motivated the Solaris Motorsport squad and led to a positive P2 in the FP1. The Vantage GT3 was very competitive also in qualifying and reached the first row on the Race 1 grid, just one tenth of a second from the pole. Sini probably missed the pole only because of a red flag that stopped his flying lap on new tyres. Max Mugelli brought home the fourth row on the Race 2 grid.
The first race of the weekend saw a perfect start by Sini, who immediately took second behind Venturi’s Ferrari. The Vantage GT3 kept a qualifying pace for the entire first stint, giving Max Mugelli the chance to enter the track again in P2 after the mandatory stop for the driver’s change. With a smart race, Mugelli looked out to contain the comeback of Bortolotti’s Lamborghini and Albuquerque’s Audi, conquering the second place for the the Vantage GT3, at its third podium of the season, in a thrilling final.
At Sunday’s Race 2 start, the Mugello-native driver had the better hand on Cerqui’s BMW in the first laps, placing his Vantage on P7. In a very close competition, in which the drivers from third to ninth position constantly ran the same lap times, the Aston Martin run by Solaris Motorsport kept the same race pace as the top competitors until the mandatory stop. After the driver’s change, Sini came back on track in P4, fighting all race long with Venturi’s Ferrari and Venturini’s Lamborghini. “Ringhio” took the checkered flag in a solid fifth position, which became sixth after a 7.2 seconds penalty due a pit stop violation.
“It was definitely a great weekend! We have shown a convincing pace in each session and probably this is the most important thing. I toyed a lot with the idea of the pole position in qualifying and maybe I could have posted a better lap without the red flag.” commented Sini. “The Vantage was simple perfect during the races, really quick and stable. The penalty in Race 2 was a pity, with a linear race we could have tried to catch the podium.” The Pescara-native driver added: “This is the third podium for our Aston Martin, the best way to thank David Richards for his visit and hope to see him soon again. I’m very happy because we showed we can race at the front, conquering a second place on the field and without taking advantage from any penalty.”
“The car was really competitive here in Imola and we were able to improve the third place we conquered in May. The team did an outstanding job, we were very quick in each session and our Vantage had a very impressive pace in both the races.” commented Mugelli. “I had a good pace in Race 1, the leading Ferrari was too far and so I just took care of bringing home the second position. I wanted to thank all the guys for their hard job this summer in rebuilding the car. The Race 2, instead, was the perfect demonstration of the very high level of the Italian GT Championship, with six car of 5 different brands clocking the same lap times. Unfortunately I made a little mistake entering the pit lane because I had to avoid a slow Porsche just in front of me. A little mistake that caused the loss of a position on the final classification. I’m sorry for the team. Anyway, the next race is in Mugello, my home track. I want to avenge the unlucky weekend of this summer!”
“Almost a pole position, the third podium of the season and two races ran with the pace of our best competitors. If someone had any doubts about the competitiveness of the team and the Aston Martin, today he had the answers he was looking for. All the guys did an awesome job, to have the chance to use the data from last May race pointed us in the right direction soon and we could work just on the fundamental details. I think it was what Richards expected from us and I’m happy to have been able to prove our strength.” commented Roberto Sini, who’s helped in managing the team by his sons Francesco and Laura “Both the drivers raced at their best without mistakes all weekend long, taking the maximum advantage from the high potential of our Vantage GT3. I’m confident we’ll see the Aston on top also in Mugello.”
The track situated in Tuscany will be the theater of the last round of the 2016 Italian GT Championship season, scheduled for the October 15th and 16th weekend. Francesco Sini and Max Mugelli will try to recover the 5 points they need to grab fourth position in the points standings.
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