“A good beginning bodes well”. Said and done. Orange1 Team Lazarus stuck to the saying and showed its strength in the fourth round out of seven in the 2016 International GT Open Championship, held on the race track of Silverstone. It was a weekend with the Team from Veneto constantly at the top in the classifications, with amazing consistency in the Free Practice as well as in the races.
On the race track of Silverstone in Northamptonshire, the former RAF air field, used in the Second World War and turned into the birthplace of the Formula One Championship on 13 May 1950, the Team finally had the possibility to make up. It all started immediately when Fabrizio Crestani and Thomas Biagi drove the fastest time in the free practice sessions after a sixth place on the time sheet in the first session.
On Saturday the team around Tancredi Pagiaro with the orange Lamborghini Huracán GT3 showed its usual strength in the Free Practice and later in the qualifying as well as in the race. The men gained seventh place on the starting grid for Race 1 thanks to the driver from Bologna. He had to make up as much ground as possible to consolidate the lead together with his teammate from Treviso and their 68 points in the standings.
Although the supercar with number 27, due to the result in Race 2 at the race track of Paul Ricard, had to carry some ballast, it went like a Swiss clockwork here in England. This was also thanks to a perfect race strategy. The men immediately gained two positions in the field, while as of lap 18 they slowly but surely gained better positions. From lap 25 to 28 alone, they made up three places in the field. In the end they crossed the line in second overall position right behind the debuting Lamborghini Gallardo with Rex Craig Dolby and Tomas Enge. Biagi-Crestani were only 5″023 behind the winners, setting the fastest race lap in lap 33, the penultimate of the race. Thanks to this result Thomas and Fabrizio now had 86 points for the lead in the standings, 20 points ahead of the English drivers Phil Keen and Shaun Balfe.
On Sunday Crestani took the car to set a lap time for the fifth position on the starting grid for himself and his teammate Biagi. This was a taste of the solid result in the following race.
In Race 2 – with another ten seconds added due to the second place in the race on Saturday to the 15 from the race at Le Castellet, which had to be sat out during the compulsory stop at the box – Fabrizio and Thomas brought home a fourth final place with an overtaking manoeuvre in extremis, consolidating their leadership in the overall classification with 22 points more than their closest competitors with 74 points. What could have happened if they hadn’t been slowed down by the extra seconds, considering that they crossed the line a mere 29”174 behind the winning Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with Euan Hankey and Salih Yoluc? Our men even drove the fastest race lap (12) here in Silverstone.
“We gained two wonderful results here in Silverstone on this extremely technical circuit, which is one of the best in the world. I think a second place in Race 1 and a fourth in Race 2 are like a double win. With the added 15 seconds Fabrizio and I were aiming at a fourth place on Saturday to get rid of the extra weight. In the end we had an exceptional race and decided not to change the tyres during the longer race. This decision also worked out for Sunday, because changing the tyres in the shorter of the two races enabled me to have a second very fast stint and to gain the most out of this situation under these conditions. This is actually a win and not only because on 10 and 11 September in Austria we’ll start with only 10 extra seconds to be added. The Team is getting stronger by the day: drivers, engineers and mechanics are gaining more and more confidence and the right feeling for the car. And now let’s get back to work!”.
“Just like at Paul Ricard we had some problems with the car’s set up in the first Free Practice session, but we easily found the right way and the perfect set up for the two races here in England. In Race 1, although we had a rather conservative strategy to gain a fourth place and thus erase our extra seconds, I had a very good feeling with the car and exceptional lap times were just coming in. In the end we gained a second place. This meant ten more seconds for a total of 25 for Race 2. We decided to go with an aggressive strategy, changing the tyres with Thomas Biagi behind the wheel on Sunday, something the other teams didn’t do. Thus we compensated our time ‘handicap’, driving a pursuit race from sixth/seventh position and reaching our goal we had set earlier on. For us these were two wins. Also because many competitors crossed the line behind us. We came to Silverstone with a 10-point lead and we’re leaving England with 22 points ahead of our second-placed competitors….but in our minds we’re already at Zeltweg…”.