Vallelunga proves to be a difficult weekend for Solaris AMR

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Vallelunga, Italy - It was a bittersweet weekend for Solaris Motorsport at Vallelunga in the fifth round of the Italian GT Championship. In front of a large crowd, the Aston Martin driven by Sini and Muselli brought home a fifth place in Race 1 after an huge comeback on the track near Rome, ending up just two seconds far from the podium. The Vantage GT3 showed a good pace, close to the best competitors. The Sunday Race was marred by an accident at the Curvone, in which another car hit that severely damaged the English coupé. Sini-Muselli were forced to bit the bullet and aim to finish the race, bringing home a ninth place in SuperGT3 class.

The Vallelunga weekend began with the 6th and the 7th times in the two free practices sessions and a record split in the first sector, testifying the competitiveness of the English coupé. Qualifying was held on Saturday morning with low temperature and a cloudy sky and the Vantage GT3 was not in its best shape, facing some grip trouble in sector 3. Moreover Max Mugelli was slowed by yellow flags in his best flying lap and ended up on the fifth row on the Race 1 grid, while Francesco Sini, despite a lot of oversteering, was in fourth row.

With a good start in Race 1, Mugelli climbed two positions early and was 8th at the Cimini bend, just behind Eddie Cheever's Ferrari, maintaining a good pace. The race continued with no changes until lap 12, when the pit stop window opened. Thanks to a smart strategy, Sini exited the pits in P4, just in front of Mapelli's Audi. They immediately started battling for position and on lap 19 the Audi had the better hand on the Aston Martin. During the final laps, Sini and Mapelli closed the gap on the Venturi-Gai Ferrari in P3, looking for a way to overtake. The Vantage GT3 ended its comeback in fifth, just 2 seconds far from the podium under the checkered flag.

With the good premises of Race 1, the Sunday Race should have been good to the #007 Vantage, thanks to a better starting position and the good race pace showed the day before. But bad luck struck just few meters after the start, when Bortolotti's Lamborghini went spinning at the Curvone, causing chaos in the pack coming at full speed. Sini was able to pass through tyres' smoke and gravel avoiding any trouble but he could do nothing when the Aston was hit hard by the Leo's Ferrari. The contact badly damaged the right side of the Vantage GT3 and forced Sini to race the first part of the race with a broken wheel rim, which was substituted during the drivers change. Sini and Mugelli never gave up and brought home a P9 in the SuperGT3 class, gaining two important points for the championship.

"The Sunday Race was good, we made a good comeback and we finished very close to the podium. The team did a great job and put together an outstanding strategy, giving me the chance to take the track at the front. But the most important thing is to have constantly lapped with the same pace of the top competitors. It means we are working the right way," commented Francesco Sini. "We need to improve something in the setup and find the last tenths in qualifying, we need to start from a better position. I am very disappointed about Race 2, I was able to avoid everything and when I was sure to be safe we were hit on the right side. I could do nothing. The car was undrivable, we only wanted to take the checkered flag and bring home the maximum possible points."

"P5 two seconds far from the podium is a very good result, even more so if we think we started from P10 on the grid. I did a good start and the car was good, then Francesco and the team did the rest," said Max Mugelli about Race 1. "After the accident the car was totally undriveable in Race 2, with a broken shock absorber, two ruined wheel rims and a lot of vibrations. We really could do nothing. But in bad luck, we were lucky: we didn't damaged the car too much and we reached the finish!"

"We leave Vallelunga a bit disappointed because we know we could bring home a good result, especially on Sunday, when we could capitalize on the potential shown on Saturday. During Race 1 we had the pace of the best competitors, we were very fast and we could aim to the podium. Surely we need to improve all the car-tyre-drivers package. The Sunday Race was over before it started, it is a pity but it can happen," commented Roberto Sini. The Solaris Motorsport Team Principal is confident about the next round of the Italian GT Championship, scheduled for September 24th and 25th. "We are all focused on Imola now, in May we have conquered the first ever podium for the Vantage GT3 in an Italian series. We are very confident but, as we saw, the Aci Sport promoted series is very competitive, it will not be easy to repeat that performance. But, this time we will have some data to base on before the race."

Source material - Solaris Motorsport
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