Antonella Bassani takes second win of the season in Porsche Cup Brasil
Antonella Bassani was the highest scorer of the weekend at Termas de Rio Hondo, as the 17-year-old race car rookie claimed her second pole position and her second race win of the season to move into second place in the championship standings of Porsche Cup Brasil.
Antonella Bassani continued to make history in Porsche Cup Brasil, as the 17-year-old talent secured an outright pole position, then converted into her second race win of the season at the series' visit to Argentina, at world renowned circuit Termas de Rio Hondo.
Bassani's outstanding rookie season in race cars featured a fourth place overall and class podium at debut, followed by a pole position and her first outright podium just one round later. Antonella made history at Goiânia, where she climbed the top step of the podium for the first time, at only her third race weekend in GT racing.
The transition to the Porsche 991 GT3 has been flawless for Bassani, as she continued to add podiums to her resumé at Interlagos, in the fourth round of the championship. The Porsche one make series then headed to Argentina, where Antonella - the first woman in the history of the category - aimed to continue her positive trajectory.
With another spectacular weekend, the driver coached by former Indycar driver Bia Figueiredo scored her second pole position of the season after a close duel with Eduardo Taurisano - eventually prevailing by a 0.005 second margin.
Taurisano had set the early pace, followed by Antonio Junqueira and Antonella Bassani - who would set the new benchmark on her third lap. Taurisano did manage to improve his personal best, but was 5 thousandths of a second short of pole position.
“It was really worth all the training, because I prepared myself a lot for the Termas round", Bassani commented. "I'm not even going to celebrate the pole because soon there's another quali. I am very happy with this second pole, even more so with 40 kg of BoP.”
The session was in fact followed shortly after by Q2, which set the grid for Sunday's race at the 4.805 km circuit. The battle between Bassani and Taurisano resumed - this time with a reversed outcome: Taurisano edged his opponent by just 0.035s for his second pole position of the season. Antonella Bassani was second fastest, having surpassed Marcelo Tomasoni in the final minutes - ahead of championship leader Tomasoni and Josimar Junior, who slotted in the top five on the final lap.
With championship ambitions, Antonella Bassani had to convert race 1 pole positions into a victory and she did just that - not without some close battles in the first half of the race.
While the starting procedure was initially aborted and then resumed under safety car, Antonella held the top spot at the green flag ahead of Eduardo Taurisano and Antonio Junqueira, in a confident start by the young driver of the #72 Mobil1-sponsored Porsche 911 GT3.
A battle for second between Junqueira and Taurisano allowed Bassani to open a gap in the lead; Taurisano cleared Junqueira on lap 2 and, by setting the fastest lap of the race, attempted to catch up with Bassani. Taurisano did close the gap and eventually made a move stick on lap 5, as the leading duo kept pulling away from the rest of the pack.
In a dramatic development, Taurisano spun and dropped to fifth place on lap 7. Antonella Bassani was quick to seize the opportunity and reclaimed the race lead, aided by a big battle for the runner up position over four seconds adrift.
Taurisano tried to make up ground but his charge ended in a contact with Miguel Mariotti that damaged the front end of his car. At the same time, championship leader Marcelo Tomasoni also dropped down for a technical issue. Bassani was unfazed and continued to gain ground on her rivals: in clean air, Bassani was the fastest on track and took a dominant win in race 1 at Termas de Rio Hondo.
Antonella's second victory of the season was also particularly important for the points' tally, as she gained 7 points to Marcelo Tomasoni.
"Very happy with this achievement today" - Bassani wrote. "In addition to the victory, we got important points for the championship, we managed to reduce the difference to the leader."
"Now we are second in the championship, and tomorrow we will have the second race, we will start from P2 and look for the victory and the leadership of the championship again."
On Sunday, Bassani had another chance to carry momentum and lined up second on the grid, just behind Eduardo Taurisano, who also had proved to be in great form at the Argentinian venue.
At lights out, Taurisano kept the lead from Bassani, who had her mirrors full of Marcelo Tomasoni and Josimar Junior.
Josimar Junior found a way past both drivers and moved up to second - while Bassani remained under pressure from Célio Brasil. Josimar Junior was the fastest driver on track and caught Taurisano for the lead - but Bassani found great pace after the initial laps and was not ready to give up the fight: she soon set the fastest lap of the race to rejoin the leading duo - just as Wagner Pontes spun out in the gravel and brought out the safety car with 15 minutes to go.
The race was back to green for the final 10 minutes and the top three slightly pulled away, aided by the battle for fourth, fifth and sixth. Bassani had more pace and attacked Josimar Junior - but a fast approaching Marcelo Tomasoni seized the opportunity and stole third from her championship rival. Bassani fought back and completed a spectacular double pass on lap 10 that gained her second place once again - in what was arguably the best move of the weekend.
Taurisano, meanwhile, had checked out, opening a five second gap from his closest pursuers: the pole sitter took a lights-to-flag victory in race 2, ahead of Antonella Bassani - protagonist of a brilliant recovery - and Josimar Junior. With Tomasoni's fourth place, Bassani continued to reduce the gap to the top of the championship standings - now down to 13 points.
Antonella closed the fifth round as the highest scorer of the weekend and will tackle the season finale at Interlagos - in a F1 support race - as vice leader, having scored 209 points in her rookie season in race cars so far.