Francesca Linossi crowned GT3 Pro-Am Italian GT champion
The Italian driver and her teammate Stefano Colombo, joined in Mugello by Daniel Zampieri, won the 3-hours class race in dominant fashion and brought home the Pro-Am title.
Francesca Linossi came into the final championship round with a six points gap advantage to title rivals, the Lamborghini LP Racing and Lamborghini Huracan ran by Imperiale team, as they brought home seconds place finishes in all the previous three Italian GT Endurance events.
The Mercedes AMG GT3 trio showed good enough pace to aspire to the big goal straight from the two free practice sessions on Friday, posting solid lap times that allowed them to end the first day at Mugello on top positions and with positive vibes.
The team decided not to take part in the Saturday morning free practice session due to unfavorable rain conditions: the Antonielli crew opted to avoid unnecessary risks that could have compromised the entire weekend.
In the afternoon qualifying session, the #21 AMG GT3 Mercedes scored the fourth overall starting grid position, behind only to the pole-setter #63 Lamborghini GT3P Imperiale racing team, #27 Ferrari 448 GT3P Scuderia Baldini and Ferrari 448 GT3A of the RS Racing team. The championship contenders Lamborghini and Ferrari started the race respectively in fourth and fifth row. Antonelli Motorsport team lined up Francesca Linossi for the first hour stint, and the girl from Brescia provided once again the reliability that marked her entire season so far, highlighting Francesca as one of the top names in the Italian GT arena. After a solid start, Linossi managed her race in fourth for the first 25 minutes, until she engaged a battle with the other Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes car, with Alessio Rovera able to move up on a combative Francesca Linossi. Behind them , the overall championship leader BMW M6 driven in this special occasion by Italian legend Alessandro Zanardi, awaited the favorable moment to attempt an attack.
On lap 17, Zanardi got closer to Linossi but the fist overtaking attempt failed due to some powerful defensive action by the #21 Mercedes driver. The fight lit up again 45 minutes into the race, when on lap 22 Zanardi attacked Linossi at the San Donato corner and moved up to P5 at the end of a spectacular line changes at the following corners by the two drivers. Few laps later, as the pit lane opened, Francesca Linossi left the #21 Mercedes AMG wheel in Daniel Zampieri's hands, concluding her hour stint ahead the class championship rival Ben Gersekowski.
Daniel Zampieri led a great second stint for the Antonelli Motorsport team and advanced up to the third overall position, ultimately checking out from the #19 Imperiale Lamborghini driven in the second hour by Pietro Perolini. The #88 LP Racing Lamborghini was forced to retire after a contact with another competitor.
At the start of the last hour, the championship leader BMW M6 suffered a mechanical failure after the last driver change, halting their chances to become 2019 GT3 Italian GT Endurance champions.
Linossi's teammate Stefano Colombo found himself in second after the green flag, behind the dominant #63 Imperiale Lamborghini crew. Colombo conducted a solid race in P2 before being involved in a amazing side-by-side battle with the Ferrari 488 by Scuderia Baldini driven by Antonio Fuoco.
Vito Postiglione crossed the finish line with a 2 seconds gap to Antonio Fuoco: not enough to make up for the five seconds penalty inflicted to them for an early restart after the Safety Car. Antonio Fuoco's teammate Stefano Gai thus became 2019 Italian GT Endurance champion with one point advantage from BMW Team drivers Stefano Comandini and Erik Johansson, and two points from the Postiglione-Mul-Frassinetti trio.
Stefano Colombo took the #21 Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes on the Mugello overall podium in third, and together with Francesca Linossi, he was crowned GT3 Pro-Am champion.
"I'm still excited, this was the first time I found myself fighting for a champioship victory. We had some initial difficulties in the race but we wanted to win, and we managed to make the overall podium." - commented an ecstatic Francesca.
"A big thanks goes to our today's teammate Daniel Zampieri and to all the Antonelli Motorsport team that always gave us a perfect car" she concluded after the race.
The neo-champion will be back on track for the final Italian GT Endurance Sprint race in Monza on October 20th.
Ph credits: Racers-BehindtheHelmet.com