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Italian GT: positive starts for Schreiner & Linossi in Monza qualifying

In mixed weather conditions at the Italian GT season opener in Monza, Carrie Schreiner was P2 and P10 in her first qualifying in the series, while 2019 endurance winner Francesca Linossi will start third and fourth in GT Cup class.

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From one top national GT3 series to another – Carrie Schreiner’s progress in the world of GT racing despite her young age is confirming the 21-year old German racer as one of the highest female profiles in motor racing.

Having spent her last two seasons in the ADAC GT Masters, Schreiner has joined Ferrari powerhouse AF Corse for the Italian GT Championship, where she will contest both the Sprint and Endurance series. She will share the #8 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo with Singaporean Sean Hudspeth, the reigning champion of the 2020 Italian GT endurance classify.

At the same time, Carrie is also scheduled to enter the Nurburgring Endurance Series together with the all-female “Girls Only” team, where she will be back in the Audi R8 LMS GT4 partnering Célia Martin.

Schreiner completed a testing program with the Italian squad in preparation for her Italian GT debut, where she managed to build experience of the Italian race tracks that she will visit through the season.

At one of the most iconic places for motor racing – the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza – a huge field of 34 cars took to the track on Friday for the first official practice sessions of the 2021 season.

It was a flawless start for Schreiner and her 27-year old teammate, who topped both sessions.

Hudspeth was fastest in FP1, having set a 1:48.218 that would remain the fastest lap of the day. But there was great competition behind, with the #3 EasyRace Ferrari of Matteo Greco and Fabrizio Crestani, who were just 77 thousandths of a second adrift. Carrie Schreiner was fast in both sessions and close to the top, but it was again Hudspeth to polish the final tenths and go on top of the timesheets, ahead of the other AF Corse Ferrari of Simon Mann and Toni Vilander.

Making her return to the Italian GT Championship was also Italian driver Francesca Linossi: the 2019 series champion makes her switch to the endurance series to the sprint series and will partner Daniel Vebster in the #355 Easy Race Ferrari.

Linossi was P18 and P21 in the two practice sessions, having moved from Mercedes to Ferrari machinery. After her championship winning campaign in 2019, Francesca entered selected races in 2020 and will have the chance to battle out again in the competitive Italian championship in 2021.

While rain was forecasted for Saturday at the Temple of Speed, qualifying started with overcast yet dry conditions.

In the first 15-minute session, Sean Hudspeth proved again to be one of the drivers to beat on the 5,793 metres of the Autodromo: several teams alternated at the top of the leaderboard, but it was the #55 Nova Race Honda NSX of Jacopo Guidetti to ultimately have the upper hand, becoming the first driver to break the 1:47 barrier. Hudspeth was second with a 1:48.079 effort on his final attempt and preceded Luca Filippi in the #58 RAM Autoracing Ferrari.

Fabrizio Crestani (Easy Race) was fourth, ahead of Alex Frassineti (Imperiale Racing), who kept at bay both the Audi Sport Italia R8 LMS in the first Lamborghini.

Linossi’s teammate Vebster – a former Italian F4 racer – put the #355 Ferrari 488 GT3 in P17 overall, P3 in the GT Cup class.

The rain did indeed arrive over the famous Monza Park: conditions got tricky and some teams opted for wet-tyres. It would ultimately not prove the winning choice for them, as drivers on slicks remained marginally faster throughout the session.

An early red flag stopped the action and forced the field to a 8-minute shoot-out: Luca Segù in the AKM Motorsport Mercedes remained on top and secured his first pole position of the season, followed by Lorenzo Ferrari (Audi Sport Italia) and Francesco De Luca (Nova Race), as the Honda NSX cars were once again in the top three.

Carrie Schreiner was slowed down by a yellow flag in her fastest lap and finished P10, despite being within the top-seven for most of the session.

The pace of the #8 Ferrari, though, looks very promising.

“Conditions were very difficult, it started to rain ten minutes before the session and then it was quite wet.” – Schreiner told us after qualifying.

“There was a crash at the beginning and then a red flag – but time did not stop so we just had 8 minutes left. I tried to get used to the conditions in the first two or three laps, then I had quite a big improvement on the last lap.”

“Unfortunately, on my quickest lap, someone in front of me spun, so I wasn’t very lucky.”

“Let’s see for the race - I don’t know how wet it will be, but Sean will start from P2, so let’s see.”

There was little luck also for Francesca Linossi, who had the grooved-tyres fitted when the laptimes started to drop. Nevertheless, she was P19 overall, fourth in GT Cup.

“Qualifying wasn’t great to be honest: we were fourth in our class but we were wrong with the tyre choice. It was a 50-50 chance to be fair, at the end of the session rain eased and we were on wets and we didn’t have time to pit. It was a bit of a roll of the dices, but we’re not too bad in the class standings.”

The first race of the weekend – and of the 2021 season – will get underway at 17:50 local.

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