Winners at Le Mans, the #2 ART Junior Team Renault Sport R.S. 01 crew does it again at Circuito de Jerez in the Renault Sport Trophy Endurance race. Starting fifth, the duo of Andrea Pizzitola and Richard Gonda quickly moved to the front to go on for the victory ahead of category champions David Fumanelli and Dario Capitanio (Oregon Team #8), who collected their sixth podium from six races. Luciano Bacheta and Niccolo Nalio (Oregon Team #6) had to cope with both the conditions and a drive-through penalty before coming home in third place. Leader of the intermediate classification, Andrea Pizzitola now has a nine point lead in the Elite category. A margin that is still not enough to clinch the title on Sunday because Steijn Schothorst (Equipe Verschuur #10) still has one-point lead after the dropping of the worst result of the season.
In qualifying David Fumanelli put the Renault Sport R.S. 01 that he shares with Dario Capitanio on pole ahead of Jeroen and Steijn Schothorst, and Nicky Pastorelli – Diederik Sijthoff (V8 Racing #5).
Pizzitola muscles his way into the lead
In wet conditions, David Fumanelli held on to the lead ahead of Steijn Schothorst and Andrea Pizzitola. The Frenchman overtook Nicky Pastorelli and Nelson Panciatici (Monlau Competicion #14) before authoritatively taking the lead on lap two. On lap six, David Fumanelli lost third place to Indy Dontje (ART Junior Team #2), who started eighth. In the intermediate classification, Andre Pizzitola led Steijn Schothorst by three seconds. Third place Indy Dontje was followed by Nicky Pastorelli, Bas Schothorst (Zele Racing #11), Nelson Panciatici and Luciano Bacheta (Oregon Team #6). David Fumanelli, Christian Klien (Zele Racing #9) and Miguel Ramos (Equipe Verschuur #1) completed the top ten.
Gonda imperial before the red
First to stop, Andrea Pizzitola handed over to Richard Gonda. The retirement of Toni Forné (ART Junior Team #3) on his out lap led to an intervention of the safety car. Meanwhile, Steijn Schothorst parked his car for good in his garage while the others changed to slick tyres. At the re-start, Richard Gonda quickly pulled away from Dario Capitanio. Further back, Niccolò Nalio moved up the order after his serving his drive-through penalty from Le Mans. Despite the return of the rain that caught out several drivers ad led to an early end to the race, Richard Gonda cruised to the win with a 23-second margin of victory from Dario Capitanio. Niccolò Nalio finished third ahead of Diederik Sijthoff, Christof von Grünigen (Zele Racing #9), Andres Mendez (Zele Racing #11) and Max Braams (V8 Racing #4). Antonio Coimbra (Equipe Verschuur #1), Jean Ragnotti (Monlau Competicion #14) and Adalberto Baptista (Oregon Team #7) were the final point scorers.
Andrea Pizzitola: “It was a very nice race from the inside. I had a small advantage at the start in the inside, before seizing the opportunity of the battle between Steijn and David to take the lead. I pushed to open the gap but I think Steijn conserved his tyres. When he came back, I was able to push again. Despite this victory, I know I need to finish ahead of him tomorrow to win the title and I am going to give it everything I have!”
Richard Gonda: “We won again and it is important for tomorrow. It was a long and difficult race, but Andrea did an excellent job in his stint, as did the team in the pits. When the rain returned, the main objective was to stay on the track and the big lead we had from the others allowed us to take it easy.”
Provisional General Classification Endurance * : 1. Fumanelli/Capitanio – 115 points, 2. Pizzitola/Gonda – 95, 3. Bacheta/Nalio – 72, 4. Braams – 57, 5. Geerts – 49…
Provisional General Classification Elite* : 1. A. Pizzitola – 132 points, 2. S. Schothorst – 123, 3. D. Fumanelli – 91, 4. I. Dontje – 71, 5. N. Pastorelli – 57…
Provisional General Classification Prestige * : 1. D. Capitanio – 137 points, 2. D. Sijthoff – 107, 3. R. Gonda – 105, 4. N. Nalio – 102, 5. M. Braams – 90…
*Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications