Sernagiotto strikes againHot on the heels of his Jarama win, Giorgio Sernagiotto claimed victory in Race 2 at Portimao.
The Veneto-based driver started on pole but was left standing at the start. He made up for it by waiting to see how the Ghanem-Simoni duel panned out before going on to take top spot.
Both Ghanem and Simoni snuck past Sernagiotto at the start. Having been outdone on the outside of turn 1 yesterday, Ghanem used the same tactic to seize second spot.
From turn 3 on, Simoni, Ghanem and Sernagiotto began a personal battle for first place. Behind the trio came Kuppens, Cappelletti and Gardelli, who all seemed primed to make the most of any errors to move into the top three. Back down the field, Riccardo Romagnoli got off to a fantastic start and his aggression saw him quickly climb through the field. At the end if lap 1, after making the most of collisions ahead of him, the Race 1 winner from Jarama was holding tenth.
Things livened up on lap 2 when Cappelletti, clipped by Gardelli at turn 1, spun and was rammed by El Marnissi. The Moroccan broke his back left suspension in the crash and his Trofeo ended up stranded in the middle of the track. Race officials had no option but to call for the safety car and it came on to bunch up the field for two laps.
At the restart, Romagnoli, who had climbed another two spots, overtook Gardelli and was in Dromedari's slipstream. By lap five, Romagnoli had edged past.
Even though all eyes were on Romagnoli's comeback, things were just as exciting up front with Simoni and Ghanem going at it and Sernagiotto looking on. Behind him came Kuppens and Romagnoli, who seemed intent on keeping pace.
One of the race's key moments came on lap seven. Ghanem was forcing the tempo and opted to attack Simoni on the inside of turn 13. He pulled it off but Simoni was not about to give in easily and tried to hold the outside line. A clash was inevitable at turn 14 when both drivers careered into the curve seemingly oblivious of the other's presence. The Italian ended up coming off worse: his rear suspension didn't stand up to the impact and he was forced to retire.
At more or less the same time, Romagnoli found a way past Kuppens while the officials were slapping Gardelli with a drive through for the clash with Cappelletti.
Ghanem, in a provisional lead, misjudged a curve and Sernagiotto profited to take top spot. The Lebanese driver took a whole lap to settle back into a rhythm, probably shocked at the turn of events, allowing Romagnoli to close into his slipstream. On lap ten, the Italian pounced on the main straight to take second.
The officials were having a busy day of it as they hit Frazza and Hanna with a drive through for overtaking when the safety car was on. Meanwhile Gardelli, in serving his penalty, had slipped down to eleventh.
Sernagiotto, who had lost his bonnet early on, was now having problems with oversteer. Romagnoli was on the prowl and set the race's fastest lap of 1'54"212 to move into striking distance of the leader. A few laps from the end, Sernagiotto, Romagnoli, Ghanem, Kuppens and Dromedari were very close to each other. Just behind were Sbai, Mildenhall, Segler, Chionna and Denny.
The last lap saw two intense duels taking place, one between Romagnoli and Sernagiotto, with victory at stake, and the other between Kuppens and Ghanem, for third.
Romagnoli went for it at turn 6 as he left his braking as late as possible, forcing Sernagiotto to do the same. The leader held on bravely and Romagnoli had to be content with second. Kuppens, in fourth, was doing everything to overtake Ghanem but he had no joy; the Lebanese driver went on to take his second podium spot.
So, Sernagiotto took the chequered flag from Romagnoli, Ghanem, Kuppens, Dromedari, Sbai, Segler, Mildenhall, Chionna and Denny. Once officials had noted that neither Hanna nor Frazza had served their drive through, 25 seconds were added to their times.
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