The pace continues to pick up as the Clio Cup Europe heads to the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola this week for round eight of the season. On this iconic stop on the international motorsport calendar, several Italian drivers are keen to win on home soil against their peers from across Europe.
The host of 29 Formula 1 Grands Prix throughout its history, Imola is one of the few anti-clockwise tracks to be visited this year. This extremely fast circuit often delivers action-packed race with its chicanes and heavy braking zones testing the bravery of the most daring!
Every point counts
Although Nicolas Milan (Milan Compétition) and David Pouget (GPA Racing) won eight of the first ten races of the season between them, neither has won since Misano in early June. Both are still at the sharp end of the Clio Cup Europe general classification, and both will try to return to the top step of the podium this weekend to widen the gap to their rivals.
Race winners in 2021, Marc Guillot (Milan Competition), Anthony Jurado (Milan Competition) and Gabriele Torelli (Faro Racing) will aim to keep their momentum on the rise to narrow the gap to the leaders. The Italian will be all the more motivated as he will race on home soil, but he will also have to battle his countrymen in Emilia-Romagna.
Challengers Cup leader Kévin Jimenez (GPA Racing) will look to capitalise on his experience of the track acquired in 2019 to get his first win in the general classification, like his rival Mathieu Lannepoudenx (Milan Compétition). However, both drivers will face tough Italian challengers, and the likes of Alexandre Albouy (GPA Racing), Mickaël Carrée (T2CM) and Yeraly Ospanov (Milan Compétition).
Meanwhile, "Horn" (GPA Racing) will aim to take advantage of the absence of Laurent Dziadus to reclaim the lead of the Gentlemen Drivers Cup but the chase group led by Quinto Stefana (Oregon Team) and Alessandro Sebasti Scalera (Milan Competition) have certainly not thrown in the towel yet!
A reinforced Italian armada
For Group A leader Anthony Jurado to hold on to his advantage from Italian Gabriele Torelli, who is full of confidence after his superb comeback win in Budapest, will be a difficult task. And both will have to keep a close eye on Marc Guillot, who is still lying in wait, but also on Federico Scionti (Scuderia Costa Ovest), who is back after skipping the race meeting in Hungary.
Meanwhile, Paolo Maria Silvestrini (Progetto E20 Motorsport) and Massimiliano Danetti (PMA Motorsport) will look to revive their campaigns. Gustavo Sandrucci (Progetto E20 Motorsport) and Cristian Ricciarini (Essecorse) - who have three Clio Cup Italia titles between them - are also expected to be run upfront in their first outings of the season.
Amongst the Challengers, the tension will increase a notch as six drivers can leave Imola at the top of the general classification. After a difficult weekend in Hungary, Filippo Berto (Oregon Team) has seen Alessio Alcidi (Caal Racing) cut his deficit to five points. Daniele Pasquali (Caal Racing) and Ercole Cipolla (Faro Racing) will also try to confirm the improvement they have shown and these contenders shouldn’t overlook Lorenzo Nicoli (Progetto E20 Motorsport), Giacomo Jelmini (PMA Motorsport) and Mickaël Carrée, who are determined to hit the ground running on their return. The category will also welcome two new drivers: Sandro Cutini (Proteam Race) and Giacomo Trebbi (MC Motortecnica), who scored several podium results in Clio Cup Italia.
In the Gentlemen Drivers category, Alessandro Sebasti Scalera will try to regain the advantage over Quinto Stefana, but "Due" (Oregon Team) and Diego Cassarà (Faro Racing) will do what they can to close the gap. However, they will all face three new rivals: TCR Italia regular Andrea Argenti (SI Racing Team) and Renault Italia invitees, journalists Mario Cornicchia and Marco Congiu.
The two races featuring 30 Clio Cups will be aired and commented live on the Renault Sport Series Facebook page and the Renault Sport YouTube channel with race one at 18h10 on Saturday and race two at 16h20 Sunday afternoon.
Friday 23 July
10h45-11h15: Collective test 1
16h00-16h30: Collective test 2
Saturday 24 July
11h25-11h45: Qualifying 1
18h10-18h40: Race 1 (25 minutes + 1 lap)
Sunday 25 July
9h40-10h00: Qualifying 2
16h20-16h50: Race 2 (25 minutes + 1 lap)
2021 Clio Cup Europe calendar
2-5 April: Nogaro - Group B
30 April-2 May: Monza - Group A
7-9 May: Magny-Cours - Groups B & D
14-16 May: Hockenheim - Groups B & C
4-6 June: Misano - Group A
18-20 June: Le Castellet - Groups B & D
9-11 July: Hungaroring - Groups A & C
23-25 July: Imola - Group A
28-31 July: Spa-Francorchamps - Group C
10-12 September: Red Bull Ring - Groups A & C
17-19 September: Valencia - Group D
1-3 October: Le Castellet - Group B
29-31 October: Monza - Groups A & C
12-14 November: Barcelona - Groups B & D