South African racer David Perel and his Italian co-driver Mirko Zanardini emerged better than they may have expected after a tough weekend’s racing at Mugello’s fourth round Italian GT Cup meeting.
The Peresoft Obox Bonaldi Lamborghini Gallardo duo started race 2 from pole position and despite suffering punctures and penalties, still emerged in strong championship contention with an eighth in race 1 and what transpired to be fourth in race 2 in what’s proving a most competitive series.
The weekend was an interesting tale for Cape Town’s Perel, who had never seen the picturesque Tuscan racetrack prior to the weekend and it proved daunting following Friday’s first practice: “It’s been a frustrating day at the office,” David reported after his first taste. “Mugello is a tough track to master and 10 laps were not enough to learn all the details, but I hope some sleep will help and tomorrow we will be closer…”
Well that sleep certainly must have made a difference. Italian GT Cup qualifying sees one driver qualify for the first heat and the other driver chasing the second race grid slot, with Zanardini doing duty and putting the Lamborghini fifth on that first grid before Perel came from nowhere to take pole position for the second race
“Pole position in Mugello! “I’m so, so happy!” David admitted after his flying lap. “Yesterday was my most difficult day of the championship so to get pole is incredible. “Its going to be a tough weekend as the Porsches have a bit of an advantage over us here, but our target is to end race one fourth so we can get rid our time handicap and then we can go for the win on Sunday…”
Saturday’s race proved tougher than expected however, as Perel explains: “That was a difficult one! “I came out 8th when I took the car over from Mirko at the pitstop and fought my way up to fourth. “But I had contact when attempting to take third – the result was a puncture so I had to pit and we dropped down the order to eighth.
“This one was my fault – I should have waited for the next corner – I had much more pace. Anyway tomorrow is another day, we have great pace so best I use it in race two – tomorrow I make right…”
Perel did all he could to make good, setting the fastest lap of the race before handing his Gallardo GT3 over to teammate Zanardini in the lead at half distance. But Mirko suffered a puncture and then a pitlane speeding penalty as he stopped to swap the wheel, which led to a drive though penalty and plummeted the Peresoft Obox Bonaldi Lambo down the order.
Perel and Zanardini were however not alone in suffering penalties and the Lamborghini ended up fourth in race 2 and just ten points off the championship lead after a fraught rollercoaster weekend of racing
“Phew – fourth in race 2 is not as bad as it initially seemed!” a relieved Perel concluded. “Rims and tyres were the story of our weekend – it’s frustrating but that’s racing. “I’m delighted with my pace on a track I’d never seen before and Mirko was also on form.
“There is now a four week break till the next race in four weeks where we hope to make amends – so it’s onwards to Vallelunga – we can’t wait!