Porsche Cup Brasil: Antonella Bassani back on the podium at Interlagos
Brazilian sensation Antonella Bassani continued her extraordinary rookie season in motor racing with two more podium finishes at Interlagos, as the 17-year-old now moves into second place in the Porsche Cup Brasil standings.
Antonella Bassani was back behind the wheel of her #72 Porsche 991.2 GT3 Cup car in Porsche Cup Brazil after her historic victory at Goiânia, where the 17-year old Brazilian climbed the top step of the podium for the first time, at only her third race weekend in GT racing.
Bassani, at her debut in race cars after karting, made a huge leap into the Porsche 991 GT3 Cup car, under the mentorship of former Indycar racer Bia Figueiredo. The teenager stunned everyone with a fourth place at debut, then scored a pole position and an outright podium before adding her first win to the points tally - all in the first three race meetings.
Third in the championship standings, Bassani was therefore eyeing yet another points-heavy weekend at Interlagos, which hosted the fourth round of the Porsche Cup Brazil Sprint Challenge. Antonella once again did not disappoint and secured a slot on the front row for the first race on Saturday, alongside pole-winner Eduardo Taurisano, at his first pole in the series.
Bassani moved up the order in the final stages of Q1, eventually advancing to Q2 with the fourth fastest time. While Taurisano held the top spot, Antonella displaced Zanon for second and settled for second when a yellow flag in the closing minute of qualifying freezed positions.
Second place was a great position to attempt a pass at the start - and that's exactly what Bassani did, thanks to a brilliant getaway in Saturday's race 1 that saw the young driver going around the outside of Taurisano at the S do Senna. Having taken the lead, Bassani soon set the fastest lap and opened a one second gap to her rival, who was comfortably ahead of Zanon.
Taurisano, though, closed back in and Bassani had to defend on lap 5; the driver of the #88 machine would eventually get past at turn 1 on the following lap. Despite a few spins in the midfield, the race remained green, and Bassani held second - as Taurisano proved to be a few tenths of a second per lap faster.
A safety car neutralized the race with 5 minutes to go when Americo Lanzoni came to a halt on track; the race resumed soon after and Bassani had another chance to challenge Taurisano for the win; the top three pulled away immediately - but more contacts in the midfield ended in a big accident at Turn 3 for Urubatan Junior - and the race eventually ended under caution.
Eduardo Taurisano took victory in race 1, edging Antonella Bassani and Cristian Mohr.
Bassani scored her third podium in the series at her GT racing debut.
The second race of the weekend featured a reverse grid race with the top six qualifiers starting in reverse order. From fifth on the grid, Antonella Bassani had another spectacular start and fired into third place after the first sequence of corners - just behind Miguel Mariotti and Marcelo Tomasoni. Tomasoni snatched the lead, as Mariotti was immediately under pressure from Bassani: Antonella had a great run into turn 1 on the second lap and moved up to second with a clean but decisive move - before she started to chase Tomasoni, nine tenths up the road. Bassani posted the fastest lap, with a 1:40.095 that allowed the driver of the #72 Porsche to close in further to the race leader. A contact between Sadak Leite and Gustavo Zanon sent the latter into a spin, but both could continue - albeit promoting race 1 winner Eduardo Taurisano to fourth overall. Taurisano surprised Mariotti at Descida do Lago on lap 5 and grabbed third - then topped Bassani's fastest lap. A couple of seconds ahead, Bassani was intensifying her pressure on Tomasoni: Antonella made a late pass attempt at turn 1, but went a bit deep and Tomasoni switched back; Taurisano seized the opportunity to claim second at the following corner. The young woman, though, was not ready to give up the fight and attempted another attack on Tomasoni, who meanwhile had lost the lead to the unstoppable Eduardo Taurisano. When Taurisano seemed on a lonely drive towards victory, Tomasoni and Bassani were suddenly back in contention and championship-leader Tomasoni found a way past at turn 4. Two more lead changes followed, in a spectacular second half of the race: Bassani waited for her chance to attack - but couldn't get close enough and eventually crossed the finish line in third place. With a second and a third place finishes at Interlagos, Antonella Bassani enjoyed another highly positive weekend at the home of Brazilian motorsport and scored important points for the championship. "Very happy with the result", Bassani commented after the races "This result is essential for the rest of the championship. We climbed one more step in the championship, as now we are in second - even though the first is far away - but we still have two more rounds to get him", she added. "Unfortunately in the second race I was very fast with the used tire - while others were on new tires. I couldn't do much more, I tried to push a lot but it ended up not working" - Bassani said, still scoring yet another podium. "I would like to first thank Mobil1 and Volda for trusting me in this process and also Porsche." Porsche Cup Brasil will head to Argentina for its penultimate Sprint race weekend, at Circuito Termas de Rio Hondo on 2-3 September.