Riccardo Agostini lone stint puts mark on last hour dogfight, as stints from Audi newcomers Sean Hudspeth, Lorenzo Ferrari were cornerstone to R8 LMS GT3 success in Vallelunga classic.
Vallelunga, Italy — 6-year removed from the last appearance at the 6 Hours of Rome, Audi drivers and engineers had one certainty about the 29th running of the Vallelunga enduro: they better made their strategy using as benchmark the pole sitting Lamborghini Huracan, a car whose siblings had sweeped Italian GT wins. It was ultimately up to Audi Sport Italia regular Agostini to turn theory into facts, as the Padua, Italy-based driver was rock-solid in fending off any move from Lamborghini’s Raffaele Giammaria throughout the heart-pounding final hour to cling to the top spot until the chequered flag, the Audi pipping the Sant’Agata Bolognese machinery by a mere 0.5-second. Obviously Agostini wasn’t afraid of jinx or bad omens, as today it was the 26-year old 13th start of the season at the wheel of the gray and yellow R8 LMS GT3. There were no such concerns for Agostini’s brand new team mates Sean Hudspeth and Lorenzo Ferrari, both sitting for the first time in the German-built sportscar.
All three Audi Sport Italia drivers were able to hold the leading spot in various capacities: Hudspeth was the first of the three to do so, in spite of a hair-rising near miss on the opening lap. However, the London-based 26-year old was back to third place at the end of his initial stint, a position that team mate Lorenzo Ferrari built upon snatching the second place from the fastest Ferrari–the Prancing Horse car, not the driver, as you might have guessed. As Hudspeth went back into the fray around mid-race the Singapore national moved up for the first time into the lead as the Huracan of Giammaria, Massimo Torre and Gino Moccia added to the lengthy mandatory pit stop unscheduled servicing to the Italian car. Hudspeth put in a good run, undeterred by a puncture that cut his edge in half from the closest pursuers, and as he handed back the wheel to Ferrari, the 18-year old Italian boy managed to keep a 10-second edge on the Lamborghini in spite of nagging tyre pressure problems.
It was then up to Agostini the task of defending tooth and nail the first position from the former Formula 3000 on the Huracan who tried them all before giving up for just 0.469-second. As Ferrari and Hudspeth raised silverware celebrating their maiden Audi win, an elated Agostini was still unable to tell if the Rome 6 Hours was either his third or fourth 2020 GT3 success: the Court of Guarantee of Italian Sporting Body CONI has to schedule an hearing to settle Italian GT Sprint round three at Mugello outcome, and the hearing will also clear the question marks on the Italian GT Sprint final standings. Most likely in 2021: Happy Holidays…
1. AGOSTINI/FERRARI/HUDSPETH (AUDI) 213laps 6h01’00.380s avg.sp.144.613kph
2. Moccia/Giammaria/Torre (Lamborghini) 0.469s
3. Alessandri/Antonelli/Giraudi/Linossi (Mercedes-Benz AMG) – 1 lap
4. De Marchi/Bottiroli/Mac/Schreiner (Fe.) – 16 laps
5. Rayneri/Donzelli/Montagnese/Fondi (Porsche) – 17 laps
6. D’Aste/Grimaldi/Utzieri (Lotus) – 19 laps
7. Di Amato/Quaresmini/Sartingen/Kinch (Ferrari) – 20 laps
8. Bertschinger/Fässler/Tosolini (Porsche) – 23 laps
9. Cordoni, Pindari, Miemois/Fratti (Porsche) – 87 laps
10.Malvestiti/Romagnoli/Canuti (Mitjet) – 91 laps
– End –