Antonella Bassani claims Porsche Cup Brasil title at Brazilian GP
At her first full season of car racing, Antonella Bassani stunned everyone with podiums and race victories in Porsche Cup Brasil: at the championship decider in Interlagos, the 17 year old Brazilian made history and clinched the title, becoming the first female champion in a dramatic finale.
History was made at the Brazilian Grand Prix in Interlagos, where seventeen year-old Antonella Bassani claimed the Porsche Cup Brasil title – in a groundbreaking moment for the one make series: the young teenager in fact became the first ever female champion of the Porsche Cup C6 Bank Mastercard. Entering the season finale in second place in the standings, Bassani kept her title hopes alive after a podium on Saturday – and was eventually crowned champion in a hectic finale despite retiring from the final race of the weekend. Antonella, who is coached by fellow female racer Bia Figueiredo, therefore secured the coveted Porsche Cup GT3 title in the Sprint Challenge category, contested with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car after six tightly-contested rounds. Bassani made a stellar debut in race cars in 2023, going full-time from karting to the Porsche one-make series with support of the Young Racing Academy – a Porsche programme designed to help young talents moving up the Porsche ladder nationally and potentially internationally. Her speed was evident from the get go, as Bassani stunned everyone in her season debut at Interlagos – merely days before being announced as part of the programme – when she navigated through the field to secure a seventh and a fourth place finishes after recovery drives. Only one round later, Bassani kept raising the bar and became the first female driver in the series to score a pole position – and only the second woman in Porsche Carrera Cup competitions globally. At Velocittà, she would finish second, claiming her first podium. In her third race meeting, Bassani kept writing history and claimed her first win with a stunning run at Goiânia – in yet another iconic moment for the series. Her climb in the championship standings continued with two more podiums at the return of the series to Interlagos, then definitely established herself as one of the title contenders at the international round in Termas de Río Hondo. In Argentina, Bassani conquered her second pole position and then moved up from third to second in the standings with two podiums and another victory, converting pole position in her second win of the season. The incredible progression for the rookie meant that she headed to Interlagos for the season finale under the eyes of the F1 paddock and audience with championship ambitions. Sporting a special "art-livery" for the final round, Antonella had a strong practice session on Friday despite mixed weather conditions. Qualifying then got underway on Saturday morning on a dry track, and Bassani was a highly promising fourth, 0.3 tenths away from pole position in one of the tightest fields of the season. Christian Mohr took pole, ahead of Eduardo Taurisano – who has been Bassani's fastest rival in the latest rounds – and Marcelo Tomasoni, the current championship leader.
Finally under clear skies, the 22 cars accelerated away for the first 25 minute race and Taurisano took the lead, while Bassani was sandwiched in between a group of cars at the S do Senna, eventually dropping to sixth after contact from Josimar Junior. Bassani, though, was on the move and, after a side by side duel, she cleared Antonio Junqueira – who was then involved in contact with Sadak Leite as the latter dived in a closing gap. Fifth at the end of the first lap, Antonella was already glued to the back of Tomasoni and Malucelli, who fought just ahead of her. Only two laps later, Bassani completed a stunning move on Malucelli, then hunted down Josimar Junior – who had lost second to Tomasoni. One lap it was all it took to Bassani to overtake her next rival, now climbing to third with a super late braking at turn 1. Taurisano, meanwhile, had opened a 3 second gap in the lead – and Bassani had to gain one second to catch Tomasoni. Antonella was faster than Tomasoni and cut the gap lap after lap and, with 6 minutes to go, the young racer was ready to challenge her direct competitor in the title fight. Tomasoni, though, defended well and held on – despite a small mistake in the final minutes when he dropped a wheel off track. Taurisano took victory in race 1, preceding Tomasoni and Bassani by a little over 3 seconds. With third place, Bassani kept her title hopes alive on the eve of the final race of the season – which would crown the 2023 Porsche Cup Brasil champion.
Mohr led the pack at lights out, preceding Taurisano, Tomasoni, Junqueira and Bassani – who lined up fifth for the title decider. Her mission was to finish ahead of Tomasoni, which would grant her the historic achievement. Antonella had a spectacular start and found a gap on the inside – but in a dramatic moment she was squeezed and ultimately pushed into the pit wall by her championship rival Tomasoni. Junqueira and Lanzoni meanwhile made contact and the safety car was deployed. Having picked up a puncture as well as steering damage, Bassani pitted but tried to rejoin at the tail end of the pack – although she now had a mountain to climb. Mohr held the lead while Taurisano and Josimar Junior fought for second at the restart; from 20th place, Bassani was faster than the cars ahead but had almost 2 minutes to close to catch up with the pack. In another incredible development, Tomasoni's car slowed down and dropped down the order with 16 minutes to go. Josimar Junior took the lead from Mohr – the latter also under pressure from Taurisano, who went past soon after. When Walter Lester went off and hit the barriers with 9 minutes to go, the Safety Car was deployed – which could have given Bassani the chance to catch up the pack. Unfortunately, the damages were too significant and she pulled again into the pitlane, retiring from the race. The green flag waved for the final minutes of the season: Josimar Junior and Eduardo Taurisano put on a show: the winner of race 1 was as close as ever and tried to find a gap at every corner, but Josimar held off every attacks and crossed the finish line taking victory.
Just as Antonella Bassani's chances seemed to have faded with the retirement, Marcelo Tomasoni was disqualified from the event for the move at the start. With two results being dropped from the total score, Bassani could drop the DNF, while as per regulations, Tomasoni was unable to drop the disqualification: in a historic moment for the Porsche brand, 17 year olf Antonella Bassani was crowned 2023 champion. “First female champion – how crazy is that!” - she commented. “Very happy with this title, I still can’t believe it. It was a week of hard work, I was completely focused on this decisive round and we achieved our goals.” “This title is for my family, for my sponsors and Porsche for believing in me in this project, for Bia and Walter and for everyone who believed and cheered for me – without you we would not have come this far” In her first full season of car racing, Bassani showed extraordinary speed, determination and racecraft, establishing herself as one of the most exciting female prospects in sports car racing worldwide.