Smart e-Cup: Vicky Piria makes electric racing debut
The Italian W Series driver entered the first round of the Smart EQ e-cup, making her electric racing debut on the Magione circuit in Italy.
Few days from the start of the 2020 edition of the Smart EQ eCup, Italian top racer Vicky Piria announced she would join the fully-electric touring car series in the #1 Sport Mediaset team. The one-make championship, featuring a six-rounds calendar that kicked off this weekend in Magione, was the first ever experience for 26-year old Piria in a electric race car.
Following the cancellation of the 2020 W Series season - where Piria was 9th in the final standings last year - the experienced F3 driver thus made her return behind the wheel in the Italian Alternative Energy championship after months away from the racetracks.
The 2020 season of the Smart EQ e-cup sees 20 identical cars on the starting grid, all lined up by Italian dealers of the popular city-car. Among the drivers, there are former GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5 racer Vittorio Ghirelli - who is also reigning champion of the Smart e-cup championship - GT Open driver Riccardo Azzoli, as well as other female driver Silvia Sellani.
Vicky Piria had her first outing in the Sport Mediaset #1 car on Saturday, as she finished eleventh in the first practice session on the Autodromo dell'Umbria in Magione. After another learning session, she then claimed P12 in qualifying. Both sessions were topped by Special Car's driver Riccardo Azzoli, who signed a 1:38.250 lap to secure pole position by over 6 tenths of a second over second-placed Francesco Savoia.
"It's been a beautiful experience, it's the first time I race in a fully-electric race car and I was very impressed by both the car and the championship" - she said to the series' media partner Sport Mediaset. "It's a high level championship and drivers are real specialists of electric driving, where you really have to let the car roll with little tyre slip, and it's very fun. It's been a great experience and I'm having fun" - said the W Series driver, who is the only Italian in the women-only F3 championship.
There was drama even before the lights went out, as poleman Azzoli could not take part in the race and left Savoia in clear air at the race start. Behind him, Ferri and Carboni battled on the back-straight for second, with Ferri claiming the runner up spot.
Vicky Piria initially held on to eleventh, but as she tried to attack the cars in front, she lost a place to Cannavò on the second lap. Sellani, who had taken the start from 16th, dropped to P19.
Despite not many position changes occurred, it was a tightly fought race throughout the grid, with Piria moving up again into eleventh place and spending the majority of the competition right behind 2019 champion Ghirelli, trying to find a way past her opponent.
The only incident involved Antonio Lavieri, who hit the tyre wall in the first sector but, as his car bounced back onto the track, he could rejoin the race with no significant damages.
With race leader Savoia hitting tyre drop-off, Fulvio Ferri managed to close in on the CityCar Bari driver, opening a gap of over four seconds to the rest of the field. Ferri, winner of the inaugural season of the Smart e-cup, signed the fastest lap and chased Savoia until the chequered flag, but was ultimately unable to make a move stick on the race leader, who clinched the victory for 0.267 seconds.
Gianluca Carboni was third, ahead of De Pasquale and Mosconi. Vicky Piria crossed the finish line in P11 for her first ever electric race, making progresses each session.
"I just completed my first experience in the Smart e-cup with the Sport Mediaset car" - she said. "I had good battles, I finished mid-pack, so I think it was a positive result as a first approach. I stayed in the midfield and I tried to 'steal' some of the secrets from the more experienced drivers and I have to say that I am much more comfortable with the car now."
Unfortunately, the second race of the weekend was scrapped from the weekend's schedule due to an "unsolvable technical issue on the track". According to the series organizers, the race will be rescheduled for another round. Despite a late entry in the championship and limited track time, Vicky Piria showed good adaptive skills to such a different driving technique and will surely look forward to more outings and progresses in electric racing.
The Smart e-cup will be back on track after the summer break on 12-13 September, for the Vallelunga round.