Vicky Piria and Francesca Linossi were set to claim their best result in Italian GT with P6 after a charging race, but bad luck struck again and a technical failure with 10 minutes to go put them out of the first race in Misano.
At Monza they showed promising speed but ultimately odds were not in their favour, as Vicky Piria and Francesca Linossi ended their first race in Italian GT as teammates with a P14 in race one and an unfortunate DNF in race 2.
Former W Series racer Vicky Piria, made the switch to GT cars in 2021 after several years spent in some of the most competitive single-seater series in the world. She teamed up with her friend Francesca Linossi, a multiple class champion in Italian GT, sharing a Porsche 991 GT3 Cup by Ukrainian team Tsunami RT.
Linossi has a wide experience of GT cars and claimed the Italian GT title in 2019 in the ProAm Endurance series, as well as the Sprint series in 2021, in the GT Cup class.
At their debut in Monza, they knew their main goal was to collect some mileage in the car and prepare for Misano, on a more favourable track for the Porsches.
A big crash in the second Monza race put them on the back foot, but hopes were high for the second round in the seaside town of Misano, on the Adriatic sea. The duo completed a test session in the week leading to the race, where a few technical hiccups limited their running time.
In Friday practice, though, Francesca and Vicky were consistently around the top-five – finishing P3 in FP1 and P6 in FP2 despite an unlucky red flag when Piria had just fitted new tyres on. Linossi also had a FCY in the final stages of the session, which prevented her from further improving. Nevertheless, the morale was high coming into qualifying on Saturday morning.
Piria went in for Q1 – but her dose of bad luck wasn’t over yet, as she found a Porsche on a cool down lap in the fast Turn 11 and was forced to take evasive action on what would have been her best lap. She finished P11 in class for the grid of Race 1. It was then Linossi’s turn: in Q2, Francesca set the fifth fastest time with an early lap in the session, which will put them on the third row among the GT Cup entries on Sunday.
“Qualifying was good, I set the fifth time in class so I am happy even though we could still improve”, said Linossi. “But it’s good as a starting place.”
Kikko Galbiati (#17 Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes) started from the overall pole position, preceding the #27 Scuderia Baldini Ferrari of José Manuel Urcera and the sister car of Nelson Panciatici. Timo Glock (#50 Ceccato BMW M4 GT3) was only fourth. At lights out, Matteo Greco had a blistering start in the #99 Nova Race Honda NSX and surprised the field by climbing to second from sixth. Glock had a slow start and had to build back his race from P5.
The former F1 driver, though, was on fire and charged back, passing Panciatici around the outside of Turn 1.
Piria had a good start but was then forced to take the escape road at the first corner to avoid the chaotic action in front and dropped to P12 in GT Cup. She was then back on the move, as she hunted down Attianese (#305 Team Italy Lamborghini Huracan).
Simone Patrinicola (#1 Audi Sport R8 LMS) was hit and spun by an overambitious move by the LP Racing Lamborghini of Mattia di Giusto but was able to continue and passed Angelo Negro in the #39 AF Corse Ferrari in ninth place overall.
By lap 4, Vicky Piria was back in eleventh place in class, P26 overall, and was catching up with the GT3 Lamborghini of Paul August.
She then continued to run close to Attianese, despite the Lamborghini still retaining a top speed advantage on the straights. Piria gained two more positions before the mid-race pit window opened.
A contact with a GT4 car compromised Timo Glock’s recovery, as the German hit the back of a Mercedes GT4 while trying to put pressure on Urcera and he had to check out after the Honda NSX of Greco went wide at curvone. The contact cost him a further pit stop for a flat tyre.
Meanwhile, Giacomo Barri (#306 Team Italy Lamborghini) led GT Cup from Vito Postiglione (#371 Ebimotors Porsche 991) and Lorenzo Pegoraro (#391 Antonelli Motorsport’s Lamborghini).
When the pit window opened, Piria was fast, having saved tyres in the opening laps of the race and was kept out for two more laps. She then pitted from P9, handing over to Francesca Linossi.
“I had a great start, then in Turn 3 I had to cut the corner as someone spun in front of me and I lost a few places”, Vicky told us. “I was nevertheless able to gain them back and I was P9 on a track where it is not easy to pass and with the Lambos ahead that are fast on the straights.”
“I was a bit conservative in the first five or six laps and that paid off when the others started to struggle for tyres”, she continued.
“I had good pace, so my engineer kept me out on track for two more laps before handing over to Francesca.”
After a difficult pit stop in Monza, everything went smooth this time and Linossi was out in P8.
Galbiati had retained the lead throughout the first stint but it would be the #99 Honda NSX driven by Francesco Guerra to move up into the lead, ahead of the Antonelli Motorsport Mercedes with now Paul Meijer behind the wheel and the Daniele Di Amato, who took over from Argentinian Urcera in third place.
In GT Cup, Scalvini led Carboni in the two Lamborghini Huracans, Coluccio followed in the #323 Easy Race Ferrari 488.
Once again showing her great pace, Francesca Linossi was up to P6 and catching up with the cars ahead.
But the streak of bad luck hit again and Linossi came to a halt with a broken axle when a top-5 was realistically on the table.
“We were running well, after Vicky’s stint we were sixth, but the car got worse lap after lap” – Francesca Linossi summed up. “Probably the axle caused some problems during the race and we finish with yet another DNF. Let’s see tomorrow, we hope we can fix it and do well tomorrow – when a top five is absolutely feasible and we will do our best.”
In the final minutes, Di Amato was able to overtake Meijer after a long battle that didn’t spare contacts. The Scuderia Baldini Ferrari then caught the leading Nova Race Honda NSX and found a gap with five minutes to go when Guerra was lapping GT Cup Lamborghini.
Di Amato/Urcera took their first win in the series with a 2.2 second margin over Meijer/Galbiati and Guerra/Greco, who ended third with two laps to go.
Once Jens Klingmann got behind the wheel of the #50 BMW M4 GT3, he couldn’t do better than P12 overall after a messy first stint.
Barri/Scalvini won in GT Cup after a dominant race, preceding Mazzola/Coluccio in the Easy Race Ferrari and the #391 Lambo of Pegoraro/Carboni.
It was an obvious disappointment for Piria/Linossi, but having shown very promising speed all weekend, the two fast ladies now aim for their first top-5 in the championship, as they will start from fifth in class in Race 2.
“We were P6 after everyone had pitted which really would have been a good result”, Vicky Piria said. “We had a few fast cars behind, but nothing that Francesca couldn’t have handled. Then she started to feel some issues at the rear of the car and something in the axle broke.”
“I am still happy about this race, because I needed to finish a stint well and then I endured the heat today in a GT car, which is really tough. So I’m happy about my performance personally and it’s encouraging because as a crew we can really do well. We just need a bit of luck.”
The second race of the weekend will get underway at 15:20 local time.