Ragazzi claims the win; Kuppens the titleThe anticipation ahead of the first Maserati Trofeo race in China was palpable. The drivers couldn’t wait for the main event.
When things eventually got underway, four cars careered into turn one causing Pigoli and Sbirrazzuoli to clash. Both drivers ended up off the track but the Italian came off worse and had to pull into the pits for a check-up. Even though he made it back out, it wasn’t for long as the officials decided that his driving merited a black flag and he was duly ruled out.
Up front the race was led by Riccardo Ragazzi, Renaud Kuppens, Ange Barde and Mathijs Bakker. Sbirrazzuoli was chasing them down and ended up tucked in just behind the leaders. However, the real battle was between Ragazzi and Kuppens with the lead changing hands several times.
The pace set by the lead pair soon saw them drop the rest of the pack, one led by Richard Denny, followed by Justino Azcarate, Lo and Fascicolo.
Things were very close on lap five with Sbirrazzuoli turning up the heat on Kuppens, lying in second. Ange Barde was not about to sit and watch: a series of quick laps saw him catch and overtake Sbirrazzuoli.
Catching the eye further down the field was Larbi Tadlauoi. He started from last spot but clawed his way back to finish in 13th. Philip Ma and Eric Cheung also put on a great show as they battled for 9th.
On lap 11, Kuppens got it wrong going into a curve and this allowed Barde to move into second spot. He now had Ragazzi in his sights and the two set about each other. The Swiss driver attempted to sneak past in a curve where there is not much room, the two nudged each other and Ragazzi was bumped into second. Ragazzi tried to hit back but Barde held on to cross the line first. However, his joy was short-lived as the officials slapped him with a 10-second penalty, relegating him to third. So, the win went to Riccardo Ragazzi with Renaud Kuppens taking second and the Overall title. One stand-out driver, Sbirrazzuoli, didn’t make it to the finish as a technical problem forced him out on lap 17.
Behind the front three came Dutchman Mathijs Bakker and Venezuelan Azcarate, followed by Eric Lo and Giuseppe Fascicolo, in seventh. Eighth went to Andreas Segler, another driver who starred on this track. The other positions were filled by Denny, Cheung, Nielsen, Ma, Tadlauoi, Lung, Forster, Rasmussen, Adrien De Leener, Yu, Luk and Fung.
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