The Tuscan only saw top lap time as he crossed the finish line, having had to drive a back-up car for most of the session. Manuel Villa came in just a few thousandths back (1:59.389 versus 1:59.319) and was a real contender in the second forty-minute session, one run in searing heat.
Behind the front three came Gaetano Ardagna, who got the better of a surprising twenty-year old Andrina Gugger. The young Swiss driver did well in the second session and showed she was at home in the Maserati GranTurismo MC Trofeo; now Gugger is poised to take the 'prize' for the fastest woman driver at Monza. Agnese Piazzalunga and Anita Toth posted the 15th and 18th fastest times, respectively.
Among the newcomers, seventh placed Mario Cordoni deserves a mention for edging ahead of Lorenzo Casè (2:00.820) and Nicolò Piancastelli (2:00.914). The Pavia-based Swiss Team driver came in second in the Team standings, with first place going to Sbirrazzuoli/Chionna from AF Corse. Third in the Team series came Olivier Doeblin (12th overall) with Marcel Pawlicek claiming fourth (16th overall).
Jimmy Ghione, from TV series Striscia la Notizia, closed out in tenth place on his 2011 debut. Ghione has appeared in past editions of the Maserati single-series championship and this time stopped the clock at 2:01.012.
Next up came the Hungarian couple of Béla Csiszer 17th (2:10.423), a time just faster than his partner Anita Toth (2:13.139).
The second session was held up for a few minutes when Agnese Piazzalunga and Marcel Pawlicek went off different parts of the Lombardy track with 17 laps left.
Behind Baldi came the driver racing on his home circuit, Stefano Gai (1:59.351), and who led for quite a bit of the session.
Manuel Villa placed third despite covering only six laps because of a problem that eventually saw him pit to pick up a replacement car. Fourth was taken by Enrico Moncada, making a return to the Trofeo Maserati after taking part last year.
Just outside the virtual podium came the Sbirrazzuoli/Chionna crew (1:59.633); the leaders in the Team standings.
Making a positive debut was the Davide Durante/Matteo Grassi duo as they took their very first drive in a GranTurismo MC Trofeo. The crew took seventh in 1:59.843, a shade slower than Venezuelan Gaetano Ardagna.
Fastest of the women drivers, in eighth, was Andrina Gugger (2:00.306). She was much quicker than 19th placed Anita Toth, who set a time of 2:21.806. Agnese Piazzalunga, who appeared at Monza in 2010, still has to get behind the wheel as her RMC journalist partner, Paolo Ciccarone, got in the cockpit this time round and set the 18th best time. Ciccarone and his partner will not earn any championship points as they are competing as guests. Another point-free driver is Jimmy Ghione, the Striscia la Notizia reporter, who will turn out in the second free practice session.
The red flag came out during free practice, compromising some drivers’ efforts. The flag was shown to allow Andreas Segler’s car to be recovered after a puncture caused it to spin at Ascari.