Pride, responsibility, serenity and determination. These where the feelings of an entirely Italian Team, Orange1 Team Lazarus, at the start of the race weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza. An entirely Italian team, also leader in the International GT Championship, now at an Italian track for what was probably the most demanding round in this series.
The Team had another important task to fulfil here in this series, organised by Jesús Pareja. The “Temple of Speed” was built in 1922 in only 110 days and has been the venue of the Italian Formula One Grand Prix since 1921 (79 of 87 races held). It is the third oldest track in the world after Brooklands, which doesn’t exist anymore and Indianapolis. The Team from Veneto had now to confirm Thomas Biagi and Fabrizio Crestani at the top of the overall classification.
Once accomplished this goal here in Monza, there was only the final rush to be carried out in Barcelona on 5 and 6 November. The race so close to Caselle di Selvazzano Dentro ended with two places on the podium for the men from Veneto. They now have 149 points, 29 more than their fiercest competitors Fernando Monje and Gustavo Yacamán.
The weekend in Lombardy started for the Team from Veneto on Friday, 30 September, with a promising third fastest time at the end of Free Practice, thanks to a third position in the first round and a second in the second round (262 and 626 thousandths of a second behind the Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Fu Songyang and Andrea Caldarelli). What a great performance from the men from Bologna and Treviso, who, before the weekend in Monza, were in the lead with 117 points.
In the race on Saturday they had to start with a time-penalty of ten seconds, due to their second place in the second race at Zeltweg. Therefore, the qualifying was slightly more difficult than usual. Biagi had gained for himself and his teammate Crestani the fifth position on the starting grid. They were a mere 0”375 behind the men on pole position Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey behind the wheel of an Aston Martin GT3. On lap 17 the Lamborghini number 27 was amongst the top cars. At the end of the compulsory pit stops the car was in a fantastic second position. At that moment Fabrizio was behind the wheel of the supercar, fiercely attacking competitors. The Orange1 Team Lazarus driver had gained 20 seconds over 16 laps and tried to overtake at the Parabolica on the last lap…probably one of the most exciting scene over the weekend!
On Sunday, 2 October, the morning started with a pole position for the Team from Padua, thanks to the perfect work carried out before. What a start for Orange1 Team Lazarus in Race 2 at the end of a fierce fight amongst six drivers, won by Crestani for himself and his teammate Biagi: 213 milliseconds ahead of the McLaren 650S GT3 with Phil Keen and Shaun Balfe.
The second race of the weekend started with a time penalty of 15 seconds, which had to be served at the box. All ended with a third place, which could also have been a second, after Fabrizio had taken over the initial lead: a collision at the Lesmo corner between Thomas, third after the compulsory pit stop, and the BMW M6 GT3 driven by Gustavo Yacamán, led to a two-second penalty for the orange Huracán. Before, Yacamán had passed the Lamorghini from Padua on lap 26. At the end of the race the orange Supercar crossed the line 5”241 behind the official McLaren 650S GT3 with Alexander West and Côme Ledogar.
Thanks to this performance, the men and women managed by Tancredi Pagiaro as well as Lamborghini are now still in the lead and look ahead with a solid account of points and a certain optimism.
“In Race 1, in the qualifying, which was extremely tight: we gained fifth place with only 375 milliseconds behind the pole position. It has to be said that we had a very conservative strategy, too. I was very satisfied when I got out of the car, by how our Lamborghini had been set up. Also because on Saturday we had to give it our all. After the start I immediately tried to keep contact to the leaders and could hold the position, keeping the ten-second penalty in mind. I drove a very clean race, before I handed the Huracán over to Fabrizio, how, as usual, did some fantastic work. That’s how we brought home a second place, very important for the Championship. For Race 2 I have to congratulate my teammate. Crestani gained a fantastic pole position and in the race, with a free track, he was great on his first stint and almost erased our time handicap. In my stint I had some difficult moments with slower cars, where I lost my race rhythm and the tyre temperature dropped. That’s how the BMW with Gustavo Yacamán could catch up. I gave way to avoid any risks. Later on the closed on me very aggressively several times and also changed his race line frequently also during braking. The final result is very positive. A place on the podium is always great. The only negative part was the decision by the race stewards to hand out a two-second penalty for the collision with the Columbian, what made us lose second place in the end. I want to thank Orange1 Team Lazarus and Lamborghini for their work, but also my fans, who came to Monza to support me.”
“Before Race 1, thanks to the outcome of the qualifying with a fifth place gained by Thomas, we were optimistic to be quicker than the BMWs. This was essentially true in the race. One I overtook at the pit out and the other one on the track. Then, when I was 20 seconds behind the Aston Martin, the Team communicated that in the end we would be extremely close. I gave it my all on every lap to overtake. If there had been one more lap, I’m convinced that I could have made it to win. But considering with all the competitors directly behind us, throwing myself into the fight would not have been a sensible thing. We could have ruined everything. What can I say about Race 2 other that it was just wonderful?! There were the sponsors, the friends, the people from Daiko… so gaining pole position on the wet using slicks, shows how the driver knows how to handle the car. it was really amazing. I left Caldarelli, Cioci and Ledogar, the Blancpain winner, behind. You don’t get any points for pole position, but it was a great personal satisfaction, gained right in front of my fans. On Sunday my strategy was starting, holding the position and advancing. That’s what I did. I drove the fastest lap and was 6” ahead of the second placed as well as 20 seconds ahead of the M6 GT3s. That’s what we wanted. A perfectly set up car to get back onto the track after the compulsory pit stop ahead of our competitors. At that point we were in third position, but it was still a positive outcome, because we are leading in the Championship. This is a very useful result, because at the last round, in Barcelona, we will have a time penalty due to the three consecutive places on the podium.”