Carrie Schreiner clinches P4 in first endurance round of Italian GT at Pergusa
Updated: May 26
Two rounds into the Italian GT Championship – and at its first Endurance series race – Carrie Schreiner has secured a class podium in Monza and a fourth place overall in Pergusa. Here's a round up of the latest weekend on the historic Sicilian track.
German racer Carrie Schreiner announced earlier this year a switch to Italian GT for Ferrari powerhouse AF Corse after two seasons in the German-based ADAC GT Masters. Switching from Audi to Ferrari brand, Schreiner's debut in the series in Monza was extremely promising: racing alongside teammate and 2020 Pro-Am champion Sean Hudspeth, the drivers of the #8 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo topped both practice sessions and went on to secure a class podium in the first race of the weekend.
In the second race – a postponed and shortened race due to torrential rain – Schreiner and Hudspeth were seventh in class after a late incident that saw one of their competitors tagging and spinning around the AF Corse entry while recovering to another potential podium.
Schreiner, though, showed speed and is looking to carry momentum into the next round of the Sprint series in Misano. The championship, in fact, features 4 rounds valid for the Sprint series and four rounds making up the Endurance series. While the Sprint format includes two 50-minute races per race meeting, the Endurance weekend features one single 3-hour race.
For the first round of the 2021 Italian GT Endurance series at Pergusa, Sicily, Carrie Schreiner and Sean Hudspeth were joined by Ferrari factory driver Antonio Fuoco – a former F3 and F2 racer that has spent the last couple of years competing for the Italian brand in its official GT programs.
The fast Pergusa track provided the drivers with some extra challenges: despite being one of the most historic circuits in Italy – a title probably shared with the Temple of Speed of Monza – the Autodromo di Pergusa has started to welcome back important competitions only in recent years and it understandably was the only venue on the 2021 calendar where Schreiner had never been before. A proper old-style circuit whose layout is shaped around a lake, the fast straights and the hard braking for the chicanes somehow are somehow reminiscent of the old Hockenheim track.
By topping the second practice session, the trio Schreiner-Hudspeth-Fuoco seemed able to replicate their form displayed in the Sprint series, but an accident in the third session provided more challenges to the #8 crew.
The car was indeed repaired in time for qualifying and Fuoco set the fastest time in Q3. His 1'33.061 would put the AF Corse trio in eighth place overall after the combined classify, as the BMW M6 of Stefano Comandini, Darius Zug and Bruno Spengler secured pole position.
Alongside the #7 BMW was the #3 Easy Race Ferrari driven by Fabrizio Crestani, Luca Filippi and Matteo Greco – with the latter taking the start for the first stint of the race.
Carrie Schreiner got behind the wheel for the first part of the race and got away well, maintaining eighth.
Ahead, it was a dominant performance for the BMW of Marius Zug, followed by the Easy Race Ferrari and the charging Audi Sport Italia R8 LMS of Lorenzo Ferrari and Filip Salaquarda. But drama unfolded on the third lap, when Salaquarda attempted a bold move on his teammate which ended in tears for the Audi squad: Salaquarda hit Ferrari and the two spun – but it was the Czech racer who ended his race in the gravel after only 5 minutes of racing.
Zug completed his stint unchallenged and handed over to Stefano Comandini when the first pit window opened. Incredibly, the Italian driver made a costly mistake coming into one of the chicanes and hit the tyre barrier – sending out the Safety Car.
The BMW M6 was back in the pits, but the significant rear-end damage would call the end of the race leaders.
After the driver changes, Simon Mann (#21 AF Corse Ferrari) inherited the lead, also thanks to a longer stop by the LP Racing Lamborghini with a braking issue and the Easy Race Ferrari's retirement due to a gearbox problem. Dropped to sixth after the contact with his teammate, Audi Sport Italia's Lorenzo Ferrari handed over to Riccardo Agostini, who made the most out of the race neutralization to close the gap to the leaders and re-claim third place. Meanwhile, Carrie Schreiner pitted from eighth and Singaporean Sean Hudspeth got behind the wheel for his driving shift.
Mann lost the lead to Stuart Middleton (#63 Imperiale Racing Lamborghini) and would also drop to third when Daniel Zampieri (#27 Scuderia Baldini Ferrari) forced him wide into a chicane. But the Frenchman's race went from bad to worse when his Ferrari engine gave up on lap 57 and Mann had to park in the gravel, triggering another Safety Car.
Hudspeth made up two places and handed over to Antonio Fuoco for the final stint of the race. After the final round of pit stops, Mattia Drudi went in top – in a really remarkable comeback for the #12 Audi Sport Italia's R8. Andrea Amici took over in the Imperiale Lamborghini, but the team would receive a 5-second time penalty for a pass under yellow in the previous stint.
Having recovered from seventh on the grid, former F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella drove the #27 Scuderia Baldini Ferrari to third – second, after the Lambo's penalty was applied – but the real hero of the last race section was Antonio Fuoco: the Italian moved further up the field and secured fourth place, also clinching the fastest lap of the race in the latter stages.
They preceded the Kessel Racing Ferrari of Steve Earle and David Perel, who took Pro-Am victory.
After 105 laps, it was Mattia Drudi to cross the finish line and take victory in an action-filled Endurance series season opener, seven seconds clear of the Fisichella-Gai-Zampieri #27 Scuderia Baldini Ferrari. Despite the penalty, the Imperiale Racing Lamborghini driven by Amici-Di Folco-Middleton finished third, while still on the lead lap, Schreiner-Hudspeth-Fuoco were a convincing fourth.
"Difficult weekend for me but we finished 4th in the end." - commented Schreiner after the race. "Good preparation for the upcoming weekends. Thanks to Antonio Fuoco and Sean Hudspeth for a good race. Impressed by the great team work." - she added.
The next Italian GT race will get underway on 4-6 June at Misano, with the second round of the Sprint series. To make her return to the track will be Monza GT-Cup class winner, Francesca Linossi.