First historic pole position and podium for Antonella Bassani in Porsche Cup Brasil
In a historic weekend at Velo Città, Antonella Bassani claimed her first pole position as well as first podium and fastest lap in Porsche Cup Brazil, at only her second race meeting. Bassani is now fifth in the drivers' standings.
Antonella Bassani impressed with her outstanding Porsche Cup Brasil debut at Interlagos last month - when she made a brilliant comeback to finish fourth overall and on the class podium. The 16 year old, though, managed to make an even bigger step forward at Velo Città, where she made series' history by claiming a pole position and a podium.
Bassani, who is coached by Brazilian top female racer Bia Figueiredo, landed a seat in the Porsche Cup Brazil with support from Mobil 1 after being selected for the Young Racing Academy, a new initiative that designed to be the first stage of a potential selection within the Porsche Junior Program at national level.
A Girls on Track - Rising Stars programme finalist, Bassani made her first race car start last year, in a one off appearance in TCR South America with her mentor Figueiredo. She is effectively stepping up from karting full time in 2023 - which makes her extraordinary first outings in Porsche Cup Brazil even more remarkable.
At the difficult Autodromo Velo Città, a 3.443 km circuit 180 km from Sao Paulo, Bassani clinched a historic pole position on Saturday, when her 1:31.912 lap put the #72 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on top of the timing sheets, 29 thousandths of a second clear of Marcelo Tomasoni.
"I have no words to describe this!" - commented Bassani. "First pole in my second round in the category. I had not tested here, I had a practice session that wasn't very good. I was well behind the top 10, but I managed to catch up and take pole here in Mogi!"
"It was the first pole of many” - she added, confident to carry momentum.
The young driver - who also has a female engineer and a female mechanic, became the first woman to start from the top spot in the series later on in the day, when race 1 went underway.
At lights out, Bassani had a good launch but Marcelo Tomasoni started to put pressure on the first lap, having defended from the #1 car of Urubatan Junior into the first corner. Tomasoni managed to make a move stick just before towards the end of the first lap - just before an accident that involved Walter Lester, Célio Brasil and Sang Ho Kim. The race remained green and Tomasoni tried to pull away.
With Urubatan busy defending from Christian Mohr, Bassani kept her focus and started to lap competitively, gaining over a second to Tomasoni ahead. Having set the fastest lap of the race, Bassani closed in on Tomasoni with 15 minutes to go.
Behind them, Urubatan Jr and Christian Mohr traded positions for third - and the former went deep at turn 1, promoting Gustavo Zanon to fourth.
Bassani continued to gain a few tenths and, while the leaders encountered some traffic of lapped cars, she seemed able to prepare one last attempt; on the final lap, Bassani was glued to the back of the #5 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of her rival, but eventually had to settle for second, 0.831 seconds behind championship leader Marcelo Tomasoni.
Urubatan Junior completed the podium, as Christian Mohr and Antonio Junqueira - protagonist of a remarkable comeback from the back of the field - were fourth and fifth.
“Well, qualifying was really good, it was kind of out of the blue, because I didn't practice much in the dry, I only did one practice on Thursday and with a lot of used tyres", Bassani summed up. "So I had no idea how the car would behave on this track with a new tyre."
"I managed to do the pole. In the race, I started first, but I didn't have a very good pace at the beginning", she continued, "but I finished the race in second place, with a very strong pace at the end.”
Bassani also recorded the fastest lap of the race, in 1:33.164.
Antonio Junqueira lined up on the grid alongside Gustavo Zanon - who had a very positive weekend after an unlucky start at Interlagos. Fifth on the grid of race 2, Antonella Bassani was eyeing to repeat her podium performance and further climb the drivers' championship standings.
From the third row, Bassani had a perfect getaway and immediately moved up to third, behind Mohr and Junqueira.
Bassani was unstoppable and right in the gearbox of Junqueira, was eager to find a way past the pole sitter and chase Mohr before he could break away. Unfortunately, she was tagged into a spin by Urubatan Junior, which dropped the young Brazilian all the way to the back of the pack. Urubatan would then receive two drive through penalties, one for jumping the start and one for causing the accident with Bassani.
Despite a bit of damage to her Porsche's rear wing, Bassani charged up the field and, a few laps later, she was already in 14th position.
With 12 minutes to go, also the race leader Christian Mohr had to serve a drive through for a jump start, which promoted Junqueira, Malucelli and Zanon to a podium position. The latter lost third to Marcelo Tomasoni, after the latter gained three positions.
Bassani made up more positions and climbed back into the top ten with two minutes left on the clock.
With a three second margin, Antonio Junqueira took victory in race 2, preceding Seba Malucelli and Marcelo Tomasoni. Tenth across the finish line, Antonella Bassani wasn't able to add one more podium to her name, but still showed her speed with a great recovery drive.
"I was really happy with the results", Bassani commented regarding the weekend at Velo Città. "Unfortunately in the second race, I didn't have the result I wanted. I ended up being hit while I was in third place."
"I managed to recover a little and still finished tenth. I was very fast, on the pace of the front runners, but unfortunately that contact ended up taking me out of the fight for the victory. Nevertheless it was all very good - a historic weekend both for me and for Porsche", she continued. "I would like to thank Mobil 1 once again for trusting me throughout this season."
Antonella now sits fifth in the drivers' championship standings after the first two rounds, only 23 points behind championship leader Tomasoni. With the next endurance round at Interlagos, Bassani will return to the track on June 3-4 at Goiania.