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Davide Di Benedetto and Alex Frassineti took third place in their Audi R8 LMS ultra in the second race at the fifth Italian GT3 Championship race weekend. Their team mates Dindo Capello and Andrea Sonvico from Team Audi Sport Italia finished fourth. Andrea Sonvico defended the championship lead and now has an advantage of four points.
It was a hard day for Audi Sport Italia drivers at Imola as the team tackled the fifth meeting of 2012 Italian Gran Turismo.
R8 LMS ultra drivers had to make do with lone podium finish in Race 2, but points standings leader Andrea Sonvico –and team mate Dindo Capello–manage to keep top spot ahead of Porsche duo Balzan-Barri
At Imola it definitely took a Porsche to end up on top of time charts: the rest of the Italian GT3 field –including Audi Sport Italia’s drivers — watched frustrated as Ebimotors and Antonelli Sport crews shared the available wins at the former F-1 venue. Starting from the front row Ebimotors’ Alessandro Balzan/Giacomo Barri dominated Race 1 while Antonelli Sport’s Paolo Ruberti/Cristian Passuti jogged throughout Sunday’s Race 2.
Andrea Sonvico and Dindo Capello’s respective best qualifying times held them inside the second row in both races, alongside their sister Audi car, at least proving that the R8 LMS ultras may have been the best of the rest at Imola, performance-wise.
Sonvico, who alongside Audi stalwart Capello came to the famed circuit well poised to defend the series’ leading spot claimed before the summer break, was indeed able to maintain his position. But this came the hard way: car #31 drivers toiled to P7 on Saturday and to a hard-fought P4 on Sunday, way off the pace of the 911s. Heavy time handicap penalties triggered by the outstanding RedBull Ring results hampered the effort put in by Capello and Sonvico: this took a toll as they faced off with the quickest BMWs and Ferraris. Therefore at Imola Audi Sport Italia’s best finish was picked up by car #32 duo Davide Di Benedetto and Alex Frassineti, whose Sunday run ended up in P3, just a couple of seconds adrift of Mancini-Lancieri’s Ferrari 458 Italia. The Sicilian Di Benedetto — who did not have to cope with time penalties — nearly caught up with Mancini at the checker, also setting his car fastest lap as time was running out. It was a good way to make up for a sad Saturday, as he had beached his R8 LMS ultra in a sand trap on the opening lap…
Sonvico uphill battle at Imola unexpecetedly got a lucky break when just after the mandatory pit-stop Barri’s Porsche was victim of an aggressive move by Valentino Fornaroli’s Ferrari, whose car tangled on the 911 rear left tyre forcing the Ebimotors driver to an unscheduled pit-stop to get a new tyre.
In spite of this puncture, the Porsche pair clinching 24 points has made up significant ground on Sonvico, who now leads by four points. But all 911 GT3R drivers at the next venue, Mugello, most likely will have to cope with a re-tooled domestic Balance of Performance, as Imola’s verdict did not go unnoticed by the Italian Sporting Body’s Bureau in charge of laying out a GT3 level field.
Round 9 – Imola, September 1:
1. A. Balzan – G. Barri (Porsche) 27 laps 50:01.317 avg speed 158.982 kph
3. T. Biagi – S. Colombo (BMW) + 15.555s
4. S. Comandini – V. Fornaroli (Ferrari) + 15.708s
5. M. Cerruti – E. Liberati (BMW) + 30.651s
6. G. Lancieri – F. Mancini (Ferrari) + 36.564s
7. D. CAPELLO – A. SONVICO (AUDI R8 LMS ultra) + 38.099s
RTD. D. DI BENEDETTO – A. FRASSINETI 0 laps
1. P. Ruberti – C. Passuti (Porsche) 28 laps 51:24.835 avg speed 160.406 kph
3. D. DI BENEDETTO – A. FRASSINETI (AUDI R8 LMS ultra) +26.549s
5. M. Cerruti – E. Liberati (BMW) + 41.432s