Record-equalling grid of 50 cars provide action in the penultimate round of the 2023 season
Sant’Agata Bolognese, 12 November 2023 – All four Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe titles remain up for grabs following an action-packed penultimate round of the 2023 season at Vallelunga. With a record-equalling grid of 50 cars (first achieved at Spa in 2016) present, six different crews across four races claimed victory, setting up a tantalising championship decider at the same venue between November 14-17.
In the Pro category, VS Racing’s Mattia Michelotto and Gilles Stadsbader claimed their fourth race win of the season in the opening 50-minute encounter, while Iron Lynx’s Rodrigo Testa de Sousa and Ugo de Wilde finally put their run of bad luck to one side to pick up their maiden triumph in Super Trofeo in the second.
Andrzej Lewandowski took a big stride towards the Pro-Am crown by taking a pair of class victories alongside Loris Spinelli for VSR and finished third overall in the second race. In the Am class, Piergiacomo Randazzo and Giovanni Anapoli (VSR) and Ibrahim Badawy (Lamborghini Roma by DL Racing) took the overall wins, while Jürgen Krebs took a double LB Cup success for Leipert Motorsport.
Opening qualifying went the way of Michelotto and Stadsbader and the #6 VS Racing crew produced a dominant lights-to-flag performance ahead of BDR Competition’s Amaury Bonduel. Michelotto made a strong getaway from the rolling start and held an 11-second margin over Bonduel before the pit-stop window opened. Bonduel carved chunks out of Stadsbader in the second stint, getting to within six seconds of the leader, but a late safety car for the stricken Pro-Am Target Racing car of Frederik Schandorff meant the race finished under yellow flags. Completing the podium was the #9 Target Racing machine of Largim Ali and Oliver Söderström: the Scandinavian combination taking their second successive podium finish. Meanwhile, it was a difficult race for Brendon Leitch, who saw his championship lead slashed to just half a point after opening lap contact with the Iron Lynx car of Rodrigo Testa de Sousa. Leitch recovered well despite driving with a badly damaged car, finishing eighth on the road, promoted to seventh following a 10-second penalty for Testa de Sousa and team-mate Ugo de Wilde. Further down the field, Marzio Moretti also suffered contact on the first lap on the exit of turn seven. He and team-mate Sebastian Balthasar were then forced to change a tyre at the pit-stop but recovered to finish 10th at the end.
In Pro-Am, Loris Spinelli and Andrzej Lewandowski battled through the field from the back of the grid to win the opening race for VS Racing, beating the Iron Lynx duo of Emanuele Zonzini and Emanuel Colombini. The polesitting #78 car of Zonzini led the early stages from the Lamborghini Roma by DL Racing Huracán of Luca Segù but fell behind Spinelli after the stops. Despite a late spin, Colombini and Zonzini finished second, ahead of the second VS Racing crew of Marcus Påverud and newcomer Ignazio Zanon.
Race winner Gilles Stadsbader (#6 VS Racing) said: “The gap was quite big after the pit-stops so I was confident that I could maintain the lead. Amaury had good speed also and therefore I was a little bit stressed about the time gap back to him! But the most important thing was that we won the race and are still in the fight for the championship.”
Team-mate Mattia Michelotto added: “It was a great race for us today, even though the conditions on track were not so easy. It was quite slick so difficult to manage the tyres. But we did a good race and thanks to the team for an amazing car.”
De Wilde and Testa de Sousa made amends for their race one disappointment with a dramatic last-lap victory in the second race. De Wilde started third on the grid but moved up to second on the first lap, Daan Arrow (Rebelleo Motorsport) at turn three. Spinelli and Lewandowski led from pole, building up a mammoth lead of 14-seconds in 16 laps. Lewandowski maintained his lead after the stops, but Testa de Sousa showed strong speed, lapping two seconds faster than the Pole. A small mistake at turn seven from Lewandowski gave Testa de Sousa the chance to snatch a memorable maiden win for the Iron Lynx partnership. Leitch enjoyed far better fortunes in race two, again from sixth on the grid. The solo driver also got ahead of Arrow at the start of the race, slicing up the inside of the Dutchamn at turn 10. In third after the stops, he then followed Testa de Sousa past Lewandowski on the final lap to finish second, one place in class ahead of title rivals Michelotto and Stadsbader, over whom he holds a 2.5-point lead in the standings heading into the final round.
Behind the dominant Spinelli and Lewandowski in Pro-Am, Yelmer Buurman and Nigel Schoonderwoerd came out on top in a frantic scrap for second place, which was only properly settled in favour of the Iron Lynx crew inside the closing minutes. The #89 machine finished 10th overall and ahead of Oregon Team’s Lorenzo Pegoraro and Enrico Bettera. The latter crew made up two positions on the very last corner of the race as an entertaining fight between the ArtLine Racing Huracán of Shota Abkhazava – sharing with Egor Orudzhev – and the VSR car of Påverud – alongside Zanon. All three cars endeavoured to run three-wide on the final lap, with Påverud sliding into the side of Abkhazava, which allowed Pegoraro through.
Rodrigo Testa de Sousa (#10 Iron Lynx) said: “We are super happy with the win, after what feels like forever. Ugo did an awesome in his stint which gave me enough of a gap to Brendon for the second stint. And then I was just catching Lewandowski, I knew I was right there, and he missed the apex at turn seven and I had to just take my chance.”
Team-mate Ugo de Wilde added: “We still have a lot of work to do with the car, but it feels good to finally get the result we have deserved. VSR were on another planet today at the start, so we need to analyse why that is, but we are focused on the last round and World Finals. I was so nervous in the last laps, because I am not in the car, and I couldn’t control anything; I was even more nervous than if I was in the car but Rodrigo and the whole team did an amazing job today.”
There was action aplenty in the first of the combined Am/Lamborghini Cup races as VS Racing’s Piergiacomo Randazzo and Giovanni Anapoli took victory after a frenetic opening lap battle with polesitter Ibrahim Badawy (Lamborghini Roma by DL Racing). The pair went side by side through the sweeping turns one and two before Badawy dived to the inside on a damp track to re-capture the lead into turn four. Anapoli then reclaimed the lead under braking for turn seven, with Badawy dropping another position at the final corner following a sensational move around the outside by the Autovitesse driver Julien Piguet. Badawy and Piguet’s fight for second continued after the latter swapped with Alban Varutti at the pit-stops. Again, running side by side at turn two, the two cars made contact, sending Varutti into a 360-degree pirouette through the gravel trap. Miraculously, both cars continued but Badawy was handed a 10-second penalty for the contact and dropped to ninth at the flag. That allowed Am points leader, Gabriel Rindone (Leipert Motorsport) to finish third despite suffering from a power issue.
Jürgen Krebs made the most of a costly spin for Bonaldi Motorsport’s Paolo Biglieri to claim the LB Cup victory. Biglieri started from pole and held a relatively comfortable lead before dipping a wheel onto the wet kerb at turn seven, dropping him behind Krebs. The order stayed the same at the end of the pit window which risked being interrupted by the safety car following a spin into the gravel trap by Serge Doms. Out front, Krebs held onto the lead to win from Biglieri’s team-mate Petar Matić with Donovan and Luciano Privitelio (Iron Lynx) taking the final step on the podium.
The second race barely got started before the safety car neutralised the field, following an incident between Matić and Holger Harmsen (GT3 Poland) as cars negotiated the sweeping turn two bend. A lengthy safety car followed and when action resumed, it was polesitter and guest entrant Roee Meyuhas who led from another newcomer, Varutti. After the pit-stops, Piguet began the pursuit of Dubelly and eventually seized the lead after pressurising his fellow Frenchman into a mistake at the chicane. However, Badawy was following closely and quickly latched onto the tail of Piguet and, despite a brief trip across the grass at turn 11, made a daring overtake in the final minute to take a sensational victory. The Egyptian now takes a slender half-point championship lead into the final two rounds of the season this week.
Krebs maintained his unbeaten run in the LB Cup with another victory, staving off Donovan and Luciano Privitelio. The father-and-son combination were not without dramas though, as they were initially investigated for overtaking under safety car conditions. Eventually, the drivethrough penalty was rescinded and they came home third behind the Brutal Fish Racing duo of Charlie Martin and Jason Keats. Heading into the final round, Biglieri and Matić hold a seven-point lead over Krebs, with the Privitelio crew a further 1.5-points further back.
The teams and drivers will remain in Vallelunga as they prepare for the final round of the 2023 season and the traditional season-closing Lamborghini World Finals at the same venue next week. Round 6 will take place between the 14-17th November.