2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy
Round 2 - Monza (I) 20/22 April
The two Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy races at Monza (April 20/22) produced one win apiece for the team pairings of Italy's Vincenzo Tirella/Vittorio Zoboli (Mig Power) and Michel Neugarten (B)/Paolo Rapetti (I) (Larbre Competition). Following the opening race in Melbourne, Australia and this first race in Europe, supporting the famous 1000kms of Monza Sportscar event, the championship is hotting up in both the Pro and Gentleman drivers categories.
Michele Alboreto and French ski star Luc Alphans produced an impressive pair of second places at Monza in the Lamborghini VIP car, with podium places won by Gentleman Driver, France's Stephane Lang Willar (Riverside) on Saturday and Zoboli/Tirella on Sunday - Britain's Lee Cunningham (Riverside) was the top Gentleman Driver in Sunday's race.
Monza opener to Tirella/Zoboli
On its return to Europe, first blood in this year's Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy went to Vincenzo Tirella/Vittorio Zoboli (Mig Power), winners of the Saturday race at Monza circuit in Italy. They were chased home by the celebrity pairing of Michele Alboreto and Luc Alphan in the Lamborghini works car, ahead of Stephane Lang Willar (Riverside), who took maximum points in the Gentleman Drivers category driving both stints of the 50 minute race by himself.
Tirella "made a bad start" and dropped to eighth at the first corner, but within four laps had clawed his way into fourth place. Another four laps and he sliced his way past French skiing legend Alphan into second place, challenging race leader, Michele Gianni (Mig Power), who qualified on pole and led from the rolling start.
Meanwhile, Philippe Charriol (Riverside) had a double spin - "all Mmy own fault" - in lap four and recovered without losing his fifth Mplace, but next lap he lost two places when he was punted into a Mspin on the grass by Patrick Spadacini (Classic Car) at the first Mchicane. Spadacini continued through into the driver change window M(between 20 and 30 minutes race distance) when he had to endure a Mcompulsory 45-second stop despite not changing drivers. He continued Min sixth place as third highest Gentleman Driver until put out of the Mrace after hitting a kerb hard and was stuck in the first chicane Mgravel trap. A similar fate for Stephane Ratel (Larbre Competition) Mon lap four - "big, big mistake, I spun and stuck fast in the gravel."
The compulsory 45-second stops for driver changes began at the end of lap 11, seeing Tirella change with Zoboli as one of the first and in a good tactical move, as it put them into the race lead two laps later while the Giannis were changing from Michele to Pietro. Alboreto took over from Alphan, by then in third place.
Once the driver changes were made the race order settled down with the Zoboli car initially leading from the Giannis, but Alboreto was on a mission and was all over the back of Pietro Gianni by lap 17. The former F1 star slipped through on lap 20, Gianni chasing for a couple of laps until his car slowed with a fuel pump electrical problem. The leading pair distanced themselves from the field to take the chequered flag at just over 51 minutes duration.
Second race to Neugarten/Rapetti
In the second race, on Sunday morning as a scene-setter for the 1000kms of Monza sportscar race, Michel Neugarten/Paolo Rapetti (Larbre Competition) enjoyed an almost lights to flag victory over Alboreto/Alphan and first race winners, Zoboli/Tirella - Alphan this time the hero of the pairing when he stormed past Tirella three laps from the end.
Twenty-six laps were on the cards for this 50-minute duration race which saw Franck Kremer (Auto Kremer) make an early charge up to fourth place behind the established leaders, Neugarten, Vincenzo Manenti (Autovitesse) and Alboreto. Emmanuel Clerico (Riverside) lost out to the Kremer charge and instead looked behind for the challenge from Jean Marc Gounon who was sharing Philippe Charriol's car. Gounon kept pressure on Clerico until he lost the power assistance to his brakes, then he coasted to a standstill in the entrance to pitlane on lap 12 - a broken driveshaft on the entry to the Parabolica was the reason for retirement.
Next to fall behind Kremer was Alboreto on lap 10, contact damage hampering the balance of his Lamborghini works VIP car. The compulsory driver changes began after 10 laps, but the leaders stayed out for another five laps before all choosing the same lap to enter pitlane. Frederic Puren changed places with Clerico and benefited from some confusion which saw Alphan delayed in pitlane after taking over from Alboreto. It let Puren through into second behind Paolo Rapetti (changed with Neugarten) with first race winner Tirella jumping to third place, followed by Robert Shaw (changed with Manenti), Wido Roessler (Kremer) and Alphan.
The Roessler car then steadily dropped place by place with a slipping clutch - eventually finishing 13th. Alphan really put on a charge to pass Puren for third on lap 19 with the Gianni car pushing past both Shaw and Puren for fourth place, although it was short-lived when a fuel feed problem stopped the car two laps from the end.
Supertrophy newcomer, Lee Cunningham (Riverside), surprised many when he took the top Gentleman Driver place on his first outing with the car, holding an eventual sixth place overall at the chequered flag - "pretty good from 18th on the grid and shame I missed out on fifth after Puren shut the door at the Parabolica".
When Alphan "really enjoyed the fight" and took second from Tirella, after they had swapped places many times each lap, it signalled no more action in the race, as the flag came out after 26 laps (51 minutes). The win went to Rapetti and Neugarten who "just kept our leading margin whilst conserving the car, as we know that Monza can be hard on the brakes". <pre> 2001 Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy Monza - Race 1, April 21
1 Tirella/Zoboli Mig Power Pro 51m 35.391s 2 Alphan/Alboreto Lamborghini Pro 51:36.583 3 Lang Willar Riverside Gen 51:52.501 4 Sanna/Moccia Lamborghini Pro 51:52.724 5 Puren/Clerico Riverside Pro 51:59.583 6 Cunningham Riverside Gen 52:02.689 7 Charriol/Gounon Riverside Pro 52:15.137 8 ShawManenti Autovitesse Pro 52:24.521 9 Frei/Velay Autovitesse Pro 52:44.611 10 Ferreri/Schiatarella Fortec Italia Pro 53:04.502
Fastest lap: Sanna 1:53.626 (183.538 km/h) 26 laps - cold/dry