Carrie Schreiner ends Italian GT Endurance series in fourth
Carrie Schreiner completed her first season in Italian GT fourth in the endurance series standings - overcoming a 20-second success penalty for her class victory in Vallelunga and a late rain shower to finish P6 in Monza.
2021 was a busy season for 23-year old racer Carrie Schreiner. The German raced in a variety of championships, spanning from Italian GT, GTC-Race, BMW M2 Cup - always with podium ambitions. Schreiner, who has also raced in the premier German GT3 championship ADAC GT Masters as well as at the Nordschleife in GT3 machinery, joined AF Corse for the 2021 Italian GT campaign in both the endurance and sprint series, at the wheel of the #8 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo which she shared with former series champion Sean Hudspeth. After the four rounds of the Sprint series - which features 50-minute double-headers in each race meeting - Schreiner was fifth in the GT3 Pro-Am standings, having taken class podiums in Monza and Imola. In the Endurance series - Schreiner and Hudspeth were joined by Italian Antonio Fuoco for the 3-hour races at Mugello, Pergusa and Vallelunga. Hudspeth injured his ankle in a non-motorsport incident and was ruled out of a couple of events, with his Giorgio Roda. Schreiner took her first overall podium and class victory at Vallelunga, in the penultimate round of the GT Endurance championship, ahead of the season finale at Monza. Hudspeth returned at Mugello for the final Sprint races and was back in the #8 488 GT3 Evo at Monza as well, where the duo was joined by Ferrari factory driver Davide Rigon. At the Temple of Speed, Schreiner/Hudspeth/Rigon were fourth fastest in the first practice session and topped the second session, ending the day at the top of the timing sheets. After qualifying, the aggregate time would put them in fourth place for Sunday's race, with the #63 Imperiale Lamborghini of Amici/Middleton/Di Folco taking pole position ahead of the #12 Audi Sport R8 LMS of Drudi/Ferrari/Agostini - as the first row was locked out by the title contenders. The #27 Scuderia Baldini Ferrari of Zampieri/Gai shared the second row with Hudspeth/Schreiner/Rigon. The Singaporean driver got behind the wheel for the opening stint of the race and had a great start, temporarily moving into third place. Andrea Amici (#63 Lamborghini) led the race off the line, followed by the #27 Ferrari of Daniel Zampieri while the two Audi Sport Italia R8 of Agostini and Postiglione hampered each other at Turn 1 and dropped back. The Audis, though, proved to be faster and made their way back to third and fourth place in the first couple of laps, demoting Hudspeth to fifth. He would come under pressure from Niccolò Schirò (#11 Kessel Racing Ferrari), but the AF Corse driver held off the attacks and retained fifth after a spin by Schirò at Prima Variante. Schirò closed the gap again and, approximately one hour into the race, caught back up with Hudspeth and passed him at Lesmo 1 - also opening the door to Di Amato and Zug. The first round of pit stops started on lap 30: the leading Lamborghini pitted and Amici handed over to Stuart Middleton. Gai got behind the wheel of the second-placed Scuderia Baldini Ferrari once Zampieri pitted, having battled with Agostini in the best-placed Audi. Lorenzo Ferrari and Filip Salaquarda followed once the first driver changes were completed.
Sean Hudspeth had a good first part of the stint, but then ran out of drink after 20 minutes and struggled towards the end of his driving shift. Carrie Schreiner got in the driving seat for the second part of the race and rejoined in 10th place.
The young German driver passed Vezzoni in the #25 RS Racing Ferrari and joined a group of four battling cars which included also Matteo Greco (#3 Easy Race Ferrari) and the sister #21 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Simon Mann.
Greco was pushed off at Prima Variante by Stephene Earle (#11 Kessel Racing Ferrari) and Schreiner moved into eighth place. She would then defend from the attacks of the charging Honda NSX of Erwin Zanotti.
Meanwhile, the #63 Lamborghini of Middleton continued his unchallenged run by over 30 seconds to the closest pursuer, the #27 Ferrari of Stefano Gai ahead of the final driver change.
With one hour left on the clock, Di Folco stepped in for Middleton and Zampieri was back in the #27 Ferrari. Mancinelli and Drudi started their stints in the Audi R8 LMS, as well as Bruno Spengler in the #7 BMW M6 GT3, having moved into fifth place into the second hour of racing.
Carrie Schreiner had a very solid stint and handed over to Davide Rigon for the final part of the race in eighth place. Rigon passed Perel and advanced to seventh with 40 minutes to go.
But drama was just around the corner, and rain started to fall on the iconic Italian circuit.
Despite cars starting to slide out of the corners, there was not a big downpour - rather a light drizzle that left strategies open for interpretation. With 30 minutes to go, the championship situation was as uncertain as ever: the #63 Imperiale Racing Lamborghini had led in commanding fashion throughout the race and the previously championship-leading #12 Audi of Drudi/Ferrari/Agostini had slipped down to fourth - potentially losing the title.
Drudi passed the sister car of Mancinelli for third - but needed at least second to seal the Endurance series title. The Italian driver hunted down Zampieri and, in a highly spectacular battle from Ascari to Parabolica, he moved into second place.
The rain increased and most of the field pitted for wet tyres with 20 minutes to go. Davide Rigon pitted for wets on lap 83, rejoining in eighth place.
Mattia Drudi, approximately 4 seconds per lap quicker than the competition on slicks, gambled and stayed out, inheriting the lead from Di Folco.
Even when the rain further intensified, Drudi continued to stick to his plan: he managed the gap and, when the rain eased out once again, he found himself in the best position to win the race. The gamble had paid off, and Drudi survived a small mistake with three minutes to go at La Roggia chicane to take victory and the title. Di Folco crossed the finish line in second place and preceded the Scuderia Baldini Ferrari of Zampieri in third.
In the closing stages, Davide Rigon managed to get ahead of both Vilander and Perel in the #21 AF Corse Ferrari and #11 Kessel Ferrari to finish sixth. Having carried a 20 second success penalty after Vallelunga - and with no Safety Cars to bunch up the field, Carrie Schreiner and her teammates made the most out of the situation and still concluded the championship with a positive result that cements their fourth place in the standings.
“Our race was okay and the pace was also quite good." - said Schreiner. "Unfortunately we had the 20 second penalty for the Vallelunga race, which made our result a bit difficult."
"Davide [Rigon] had changed to rain tyres on the last stint and, in these difficult conditions, the sixth place was good.”
In her first season in Italian GT, Schreiner proved to be competitive and, if she will be back in 2022, she has realistic chances of aiming for class success.