Italian GT: Francesca Linossi wins GTCup, Schreiner close to a podium finish before late contact
The second race of the 2021 Italian GT Championship in Monza saw the first female victory of the season - hopefully just one of many: Francesca Linossi claimed a remarkable class win in GT Cup, while Carrie Schreiner was close to a podium finish but a contact demoted the German lady and her teammate Sean Hudspeth outside the top-10.
The first round of the 2021 Italian GT Championship was rounded out by the second race on Sunday afternoon – which became the second part of a Sunday double-header after the first 50-minute heat was postponed on Saturday due to the heavy rain falling on the Temple of Speed.
At Monza, a strong field of 34 cars gathered to the home of the Italian GP for the first ACI-promoted racing weekend, which kicked off the Sprint series. Italian GT, in fact, features a double classify for Sprint and Endurance races, both with a 4-event calendar.
Making her debut in the series was former ADAC GT Masters and 21-year old upcoming talent Carrie Schreiner: the German lady has joined Ferrari powerhouse AF Corse for both the Italian GP series and will partner 27-year old Singaporean Sean Hudspeth – a former endurance series champion in 2020.
Carrie was quickly up to speed in the #8 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo and the duo topped both the Friday practice sessions.
Qualifying proved to be a bit more challenging, when the rain turned the two 15-minute sessions into a lottery. Hudspeth was second in Q1 but, when Schreiner got in the driving seat, the rain had intensified. Carrie was cautious in her first couple of laps, but then significantly improved and lapped steadily in the top-7. Unfortunately, a spinning driver in front of her on her final attempt meant that she could not improve on the drying track, demoting her to P10 overall.
Francesca Linossi was also a late addition to the Sprint series: the Italian driver had won in 2019 the Endurance series, sharing a Mercedes AMG GT3 with her life partner Stefano Colombo. Linossi will switch to the Easy Race Ferrari 488 Challenge in the GT Cup category, together with co-driver Daniel Vebster.
In his first GT3 race, the young Swede qualified P3 in class, while Francesca was fourth in the second rain-affected session. The #355 had in fact gone out on track with the wet-weather tyres – which proved to be the least effective choice when the track conditions improved.
In Race 1, Schreiner took over from Hudspeth for the second half of the 36-minute segment and rejoined fourth overall. She held onto fourth until six minutes to go, again on very challenging track conditions. While the sun was back shining on the Italian venue, the tarmac remained very damp throughout the first race.
Having lost a couple of positions in the latter stages – and with a 5 second time penalty due to a turn 1 chicane cut by Hudspeth at the race start – Schreiner was seventh at the finish line, claiming third in the Pro-Am class.
Linossi and Vebster had a strong first race and finished P13 overall, fourth in GT Cup.
This time, their decision to start on slicks paid off.
As expected, the afternoon race was fully dry and the drivers lined up on the grid with no tyre gamble on their mind. Luca Segù led the field in the #90 AKM Motorsport Mercedes AMG, alongside Lorenzo Ferrari in the #12 Audi Sport Italia R8 LMS. Having secured pole in Q2, Segù was unfortunately out of the first race before even starting his stint, as teammate Bar Baruch was crashed out at the first chicane by Jacopo Guidetti.
When the lights went out, Segù led Ferrari, Cecotto and De Luca into the first corner – but the action was shortly interrupted by a Safety Car due to Marius Zug accident at La Roggia and the stranded Tsunami Racing Porsche of Lino and Carlo Curti.
When the race went back to green, Carrie Schreiner had a great getaway and started to put pressure on the fast Honda NSX of Erwin Zanotti in eighth.
Kessel Racing's Niccolò Schirò straight-lined the chicane and was later handed a 5 second penalty for track limits. While the leading Mercedes could extend his gap to a safe margin, there was a heated and entertaining battle for second place overall between Ferrari and Cecotto: the driver of the #88 LP Racing Lamborghini launched a series of attacks before finally making the move stick into Prima Variante with a bold move on lap 7. Behind them, De Luca went deep and lost a position to Schirò. Schirò was on a charge and moved up to third shortly after, having passed the Audi of Lorenzo Ferrari. Linossi, meanwhile, had gained one position at the start and further advanced to second in GT Cup (14th overall) once she overtook Giardelli (Dinamic Motorsport). The #399 Lamborghini Huracan of Giacomo Barri held GT Cup lead. Around the half-way mark, Carrie Schreiner was the first driver to be called back to the pits and handed over to Sean Hudspeth. The #351 Lambo Huracan of Daan Pijl and Fabio Vairani also followed – in what would prove to be a costly pit stop for both teams: with the pit window still closed, they later received a 1 minute penalty. Linossi pitted after a great stint and Vebster took control of the #355 Easy Race Ferrari, rejoining second in class. A slower stop by their main rivals gave the opportunity to Vebster to seize the leadership. Hudspeth was also making up positions quickly and started to target the top five. Ahead, Baruch could extend his leadership when Riccardo Agostini and Jacopo Guidetti both jumped ahead of the Venezuelan Pietro Perolini – the Audi and Nova Race drivers continuing the battle started by teammates in the previous stint. Hudspeth passed Llorena and, by gaining over 5 seconds to Perolini, he closed on a potential podium finish. Schreiner's teammate did indeed go by Perolini, but the Lamborghini driver hit the #8 Ferrari coming into Ascari, spinning Hudspeth around. He dropped to ninth overall, but the penalty would take them out of contention for a points finish, in P17. "The race was quite good, we both had great pace and drove a good race, but then we had that little crash with the Lamborghini spinning us around", commented Carrie. In the final stages, Baruch saw increasing pressure from the fast charging Agostini and Guidetti, but managed to hang on to P1 and took victory in the second race – also overcoming a penalty for driver change infringement. Agostini/Ferrari were second in the #12 Audi Sport Italia R8 LMS, having fended off the impressive Nova Race Honda NSX of Guidetti and De Luca. Ten more teams received penalties for irregular driver change, with penalties spanning from 0,150 seconds to 60 seconds. Despite losing time to fuel management in the final laps, Daniel Vebster took the chequered flag in P12 overall and secured victory in GT Cup for Nova Race. It was Linossi's first win after her championship winning campaign in 2019. Francesca, who also had fellow Italian racer Vicky Piria among her supporters on track, now leads the GT Cup class standings, with 27 points. The next round of the Italian GT will see the teams heading to Pergusa, Sicily, for the start of the Endurance series.