It was a tougher than expected qualifying session for Swiss Team in the International Superstars Series at Vallelunga. It was a tougher than expected qualifying session for Swiss Team in the International Superstars Series at Vallelunga. The private Swiss squad’s drivers Giancarlo Fisichella, making his championship debut, and Mauro Cesari placed respectively tenth and thirteenth on the timesheet that decides the grid order for the first race.
Expectations were higher on the eve of Qualifying. In the two free practice sessions Fisichella, appearing for the first time in the FG Group-run series and in the Maserati, clocked the seventh best time. Cesari, the less experienced driver having only started competing in 2007, picked up the tenth and eleventh times on the board.
A lot of faith is placed in the Quattroporte Evo, a car that last year proved it was at home on the Rome circuit’s fast curves and mixed sections. It was here in 2011 that Andrea Bertolini claimed pole, two wins and the fastest lap in Race 1 in an amazing performance that gave him the title from a seemingly hopeless position.
This time, things were much tougher. The short free practice sessions didn’t really give Fisichella a chance to get to know the Maserati. What made things even harder was the clash the ex-F1 driver had when trying to overtake the slower Ascani just after the Swiss Team driver had fitted a new set of tyres. The collision meant that Fisichella had to sit out the rest of the session with a broken suspension.
Cesari also hoped to do better but the two-month championship break, since the last race at Spa, affected his display. Still, Mauro managed to limit the gap to his team-mate to 0.3 in a session where just a second separated the sixth from the fourteenth-placed driver.
Audi was the standout car especially as things are now easier for the manufacturer by the Superstars technical commission. Kristoffersson, Morbidelli and Schoffler RS5s posted the top three times and their supremacy was never in any doubt. The Audi is just one of Maserati’s rivals to have been given a competitive edge since Spa: almost all the other cars have been modified but the Quattroporte Evo is exactly the same.