Sergio Campana claimed a dominant victory in the first Auto GP race of the season for new team Ibiza Racing.
The Italian finished over seven seconds clear of Kimiya Sato, with rookie pilot Vittorio Ghirelli an additional ten seconds adrift.
Campana initially followed poleman Riccardo Agostini on the opening lap, but forced his way passed Agostini at the beginning of the second tour as they went three-wide with the fast starting Sato on the outside line of start / finish.
As Agostini watched the attacking Sato, both went long into the breaking zone, allowing Campana to slip through the inside of Rettifilo. “We were in the first chicane, I took the [slipstream], but he closed me in the right side of the circuit and I [went over] the white line and also at the same time Sato overtake Agostini on the outside.”
He continued, “Three-car into the first chicane is impossible – my first objective is to finish the race. Also I saw that they went a little long in the corner and I take the right line and [overtook] both of the cars.”
With his lead stretching significantly, Campana had little to fear from his opposition; however he was surprised when he was almost taken out by lapped driver Meindert van Buuren on the lap seven. “It was something that was very bad. He was in last position and he thought was in a race with me and he started to battle with me and touched me.”
It was a strategy that certainly surprised the eventual victor. “I had a little problem in the right mirror, so I couldn’t see in the right side, but I paid a lot of attention in the first chicane, because I saw that he moved on the right side. I think it’s crazy – he was in the last position.”
Beyond that scare, Agostini took his Ibiza Racing machine to the finish to the delight of his new team. “There are some people inside the team that have a lot of experience and this helps, but when you start a new project with a new team, it is always a little bit strange. I am happy to get the team into first position with a first victory.”
Although happy with result, Sato was hardly ecstatic with 2nd place, with the Japanese driver still rueing a disappointing qualifying session that left him 6th. The Japanese driver commented, “It was a good race. I started from p6, so a p2 finish is OK. I had a good start and during the race from the start, the car was OK with balance, so that I could continue consistent laptimes.”
Ghirelli’s drive to 3rd place was quite stunning. The Italian started 3rd, but his car suffered from overly high temperatures on the warm-up lap, dropping his engine in safety-mode.
For Super Nova driver, it almost destroyed his race. “For the first straight and the second straight, the engine was in safety mode and everyone went twenty-seconds away. I started to catch everyone and make nice overtakes, so a late pitstop strategy was a very good idea and I managed to catch up positions.”
A late pitstop helped Ghirelli’s race to a degree, but it almost came apart when he ran too close to teammate Antonio Spavone upon his return to the track. “I saw he was trying to overtake me, when I had cold tyres. I didn’t touch him; I just closed the line in the second chicane and braked in the inside.”
Spavone would eventually drop to 6th, allowing Robert Visoiu to climb back to 4th after he lost places in the pits. Narain Karthikeyan climbed to 15th after starting a miserable 5th, while poleman Agostini endured a dire race. After being passed by Campana and Sato, Agostini continued to fall down the order, but did regain some places during the pitstops – he came home 7th.
2013 Auto GP World Series Round of Monza (Rd 1, Race 1, 14 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Sergio Campana Ibiza 23m40.402s 2. Kimiya Sato Euronova + 7.575s 3. Vittorio Ghirelli Super Nova + 17.119s 4. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani + 18.895s 5. Narain Karthikeyan Zele + 19.409s 6. Antonio Spavone Super Nova + 19.907s 7. Riccardo Agostini Manor MP + 20.700s 8. Luciano Bacheta Zele + 23.739s 9. Giuseppe Cipriani Ibiza + 35.169s 10. Maxim Snegirev Virtuosi UK + 44.079s 11. Yoshitaka Kuroda Euronova + 1m31.620s Retirements: Michele la Rosa MLR 71 13 laps Meinhart van Buuren Manor MP 4 laps Giacomo Ricci MLR 71 1 lap Andrea Roda Virtuosi UK 0 laps
2013 Auto GP World Series Round of Monza (Rd 1, Race 1) Pos Driver Points 1. Sergio Campana Ibiza 26 2. Kimiya Sato Euronova 18 3. Vittorio Ghirelli Super Nova 15 4. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani 12 5. Narain Karthikeyan Zele 10