Ardagna storms to victory
Starting way down the field after being given a penalty for a Race 1 collision, Nicolò Piancastelli quickly made up ground and was in fifth, behind Maddalena, by lap two.
On lap 3, Mario Benusiglio ran onto the grass and then spun at turn 3. With his car at a standstill in the middle of the track, the safety car was called out. This bunched up the group and when things got going again, two laps later, Piancastelli was quickest to react as he found a way past Maddalena into fourth.
Up ahead, the shootout between Baldi, Ardagna and Bakker was hotting up. By the halfway stage, Baldi and Ardagna had thrown off the Dutchman, who was being hounded by Piancastelli. Things had developed into two private battles: between Baldi and Ardagna for first and between Bakker and Piancastelli for third.
On lap 10, Piancastelli completed his comeback when he swept past Bakker; one lap later Gaetano Ardagna overtook Baldi going into the pit lane straight to take command of the race. Further back, Mildenhall, in the N.18 Maserati decked out in Radio Monte Carlo colours, sneaked past Maddalena, while Chionna (AF Corse) overtook Durante (Swiss Team) to move into first spot in the Team standings.
Towards the end, with the rain starting to bother the drivers, Piancastelli attempted a desperate overtaking move on the front two, setting the best lap time of 1:37.496, but not improving on this third place. In the end, the win went to Gaetano Ardagna with David Baldi extending his overall lead by claiming second.
Sbirrazzuoli dominates Race 1 while the pack battles it out
Things warmed up immediately thanks to a series of spectacular battles and a majestic drive by Cedric Sbirrazzuoli. Starting off pole, Sbirrazzuoli led from start to finish and took the chequered flag some nine minutes earlier than scheduled.
Race officials opted to call the race to a close after 16 laps and with 75% of the race time gone. This decision was taken because of debris on the track and the rain that was making things more and more treacherous for cars that had started on slicks. So, Team AF Corse’s Cedric Sbirrazzuoli took the win in 26:11.497 after a clean, faultless drive. Thanks to yesterday’s pole and today’s victory, AF Corse stretches its lead in the Team series while the Monaco driver has taken his second straight win - after his Spa triumph.
The drivers really went at it behind the AF Corse driver. Piancastelli and Baldi crossed swords for third place as Gaetano Ardagna, in second, tried to keep in touch with Sbirrazzuoli over the early laps. Piancastelli seemed to have shaken off Baldi, who was overtaken by Bakker after a slight hesitation. Meanwhile, up front Sbirrazzuoli was stepping on the gas to set his best lap of 1:37.327, Maddalena had to retire with a fuel leak and Waszczinski after mistiming his braking in a curve.
In the second half of the race, Nicolò Piancastelli clawed his way back to Gaetano Ardagna until he was right in his slipstream. David Baldi was doing the same thing to Bakker for fourth overall; he then overtook him splendidly on lap 12. A few seconds later came a clash between Gaetano Ardagna and Nicolò Piancastelli going into a right-hander. The collision destroyed one of Gaetano Ardagna’s rear tyres and he was forced into the pits. Piancastelli laboured on but had dropped two places after Baldi and Bakker had got past. The Romagna driver tried a double overtaking move on lap sixteen, just as the chequered flag brought an end to the race before the rain did so.
The Ardagna-Piancastelli clash attracted the attention of the officials who decided to hit the Italian with a 25 second penalty as well as relegating him six places for Race 2. This meant that Kroes was shunted into fourth in the final classification - third in the Trofeo category - ahead of an excellent Owen Mildenhall in the N.18 Radio Monte Carlo Maserati, the penalised Piancastelli and the Venezuelan Justino Azcarete Riveroll. In eighth came Roberto Giordanelli, the other English guest journalist who doesn’t collect any championship points. In ninth came Matteo Grassi from Swiss Team, second in the Team classification in 27:21.189, in front of Segler and Renato Benusiglio (team Renato Benusiglio) who came third in the Team series.
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