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Oregon Team pairing make amends for race one error with late race overtake
Oregon Team’s Marzio Moretti and Sebastian Balthasar made inroads into the top of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe pro standings after sealing their second victory of the season in another entertaining race in Valencia.
The Italo-German partnership started the second 50-minute encounter of the weekend seventh on the grid but made significant progress during the opening stint which was punctuated by two safety car periods. A strong second stint from Moretti after the pit window closed moved the #61 Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2 onto the tail of race-leader Gilles Stadsbader (#6 VS Racing), with a mistake from the latter handing the victory Oregon’s way with two minutes remaining.
Championship leader Brendon Leitch (#86 Leipert Motorsport) finished fourth, just off the podium, to consolidate his healthy points margin ahead of the penultimate round of the year at Vallelunga in November.
Just like in race one, BDR Competition’s Amaury Bonduel proved he had the quickest one-lap pace in qualifying to take pole position, and the Belgian driver maintained his advantage at the start amid pressure from Leitch behind. Further back, there was contact between the Rebelleo Motorsport car of Daan Arrow and the #6 of Michelotto, sending Arrow spinning at turn one. The first of two safety cars was then deployed after the #99 Leipert Motorsport entry of Patrik Matthiesen and the Brutal Fish Racing #54 of Jason Keats ended up in the gravel trap. Bonduel remained at the front after the restarts, opening up a lead of over a second from Leitch, with the #9 Target Racing car of Largim Ali in third, just ahead of Michelotto. Balthasar was then the first of the leading cars to come into the pits, changing with Moretti and leaving the #61 with substantial clean air to make ground. Once Leitch re-joined the track, he found himself alongside Bonduel at turn two, the pair going wide on the exit which allowed Moretti to slice past both into turn three. Moretti had been driving with a damaged car though, as contact with the rear of Bonduel on the previous lap affected the aerodynamics and caused the #61 to lose some power. Nevertheless, Moretti was ahead, but the four-car scrap which included the Iron Lynx machine of Ugo de Wilde slowed them enough for both Stadsbader and the Lamborghini Roma by DL Racing entry of Matteo Desideri leapfrogged their way up to the top two places. Desideri, making his first Super Trofeo appearance since 2016, took up the pursuit of Stadsbader but spun at turn 11, dropping down the order. That enabled Moretti to keep the pressure on Stadsbader entering the closing stages, with Stadsbader eventually understeering wide at the exit of turn one to give the #61 the win. It was perhaps appropriate that Moretti and Balthasar – who overcame a 0.12s pit-stop penalty – came out on top in near-identical fashion to the opening race, where a last-lap error in traffic handed Leith victory. Ali and Oliver Söderström equally survived big pressure from Leitch throughout the second stint to claim their first Super Trofeo podium in third. Bonduel finished sixth overall and fifth in the Pro class, ahead of De Wilde and Desideri, while Arrow and team-mate Abbie Eaton recovered to finish ninth.
In Pro-Am, there was drama even before the race got underway, as the #22 Micánek Motorsport car of Karol Basz and Bronislav Formánek stopped on the formation lap and didn’t take the start. Once action got going properly, Scuderia Villorba Corse’s Jim Pla led the early stages from the second Micánek car of Josef Zaruba and Art-Line Racing’s Egor Orudzhev. The order stayed that way until after the pit-stops, as the #81 Target Racing car shared by Alex Au and Patrick Kujala started to move up the grid. Equally, the Brutal Fish Racing Huracán of Edoardo Liberati and Martin Ryba were on a recovery drive and ended up finishing inside the top 10 overall and second in class behind Kujala and Au. The victory strengthens Au’s class points lead going into Vallelunga, having enjoyed a successful season to date with regular team-mate Frederik Schandorff. His main title rival, Andrzej Lewandowski had a difficult time in the #16 VSR machine, team-mate Artem Petrov spinning late on and ending up a distant fourth at the flag. Completing the podium was the all-French Arkadia Racing crew of Edgar Maloigne and Stéphan Guerin.
Boutsen VDS’s Karim Ojjeh and Elie Dubelly were almost the last Am runners standing at the end of a dramatic up-and-down race in which the lead changed multiple times. The sister Boutsen car of Renaud Kuppens took an early lead before running wide into the gravel at turn nine. It then shuffled back into the lead after Leipert Motorsport’s Gabriel Rindone crashed out, causing the first safety car intervention. Race one winner Ibrahim Badawy then held onto the lead after the pit-stop window closed, only to lose the lead following a drivethrough penalty for overtaking under safety car conditions. That gave the advantage back to Kuppens and Feligioni, but the latter was taken out of contention by an out-of-control #40 CMR car of Wilfried Cazalbon under braking for turn two. Cazalbon received a penalty for the move and, with Badawy also out of the lead, Ojjeh moved to the top of the pile to take the win. GT3 Poland’s Adrian Lewandowski finished second, with Badawy third.
Paolo Biglieri and Petar Matić returned to winning ways in the Lamborghini Cup, the duo keeping their noses clean throughout the race to extend their lead in the class standings. Leipert Motorsprt’s Jürgen Krebs initially the way from pole but lost out to Krebs during the pit window. Once in front, Biglieri and Matić were challenged all the way by Krebs, who finished just over seven-tenths behind at the flag. Completing the podium was the Iron Lynx #8 machine of Donovan and Luciano Privitelio. The father-and-son combination profited from a drivethrough penalty for the BDR Competition car of José Hernandez Ortega late in the race, with the Méxican driver falling behind team-mate Serge Doms.
Sebastian Balthasar (#61 Oregon Team) said post-race: “My stint was quite good; the start was difficult because I had to go wide to avoid the incident at the first corner. We then went for an early pit-stop which went really well and that gave us some clean air. Marzio then did a mega job, especially since we have had no testing here, had barely any laps in practice or qualifying and we were the fastest car. It was such a tough win, maybe the best we ever had in the series.”
Team-mate Marzio Moretti (#61 Oregon Team) added: “The contact caused the engine to overheat a lot and it was really hard to follow Gilles in front, because the temperatures were going through the roof. I also used a lot of my tyres as well, but I was still faster than him and also had to remember about the penalty. Sometimes all you need is a mistake from the guy in front and that’s what happened. I had to take my opportunity when it was presented, otherwise stay in second.”
The next round of the 2023 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe season takes place at the Vallelunga circuit near Rome on the weekend of 12-13 November.