An impressive win in round two of the European Le Mans Series at Imola (Sunday 17th May), was exactly what the AT Racing team was looking for to kick start its chase for the 2015 championship title. A great all-round effort witnessed outstanding performances from all three drivers: Alexander Talkanitsa sr., Alexander Talkanitsa jr. and Alessandro Pier Guidi, who collectively delivered the team’s first win of the season and took the lead of the championship!
Following the disappointment of a 7th place at Silverstone, the team was determined to come back with a vengeance for the four-hour race at Imola, especially as the circuit’s layout of long straights, technical corners and elevations was expected to suit its three experienced drivers and Ferrari 458GTE. Consequently, the team used Saturday’s two 90-minute Free Practice sessions in changeable weather conditions to evaluate set-ups.
It was very important for us to get some time on a dry track on Saturday. The pace was really good and we were really confident for the race.
Sunday – race day – dawned dry and bright and the team’s work following round one were clearly revealed when Pier Guidi qualified P1 in class, which meant a front-row start for Talkanitsa jr. who was nominated as the first driver. He had a safe start and did a decent stint before the safety car was deployed. After a perfect tyre change and refueling the AT Racing Ferrari was leading with a one minute margin to the second position. However, an avoidable contact by a LMP3 dropped Alexander sr. to 6th position. The bronze rated driver did not give up and showed an impressive pace being the fastest bronze driver of the race. The second safety car emerged in a lucky moment for the Austrian team and put the #56 back in the game. After another solid stint by Alexander jr., despite having to carefully manage fuel, Alessandro jumped into the car in P6 with 14 seconds gap to the leading Ferrari. For the final hour, it was Pier Guidi’s opportunity to augment his two team mate’s efforts and he proceeded to show why he is one of the leading drivers in the ELMS and other international championship’s by setting consistently fastest times throughout his stint. After a fierce battle with the second placed Porsche and a perfect overtaking for the first position, Alessandro crossed the finishing line with a 4 second gap from his closest rival.
AT Racing’s next outing is when Talkanitsa jr. & sr. plus Alessandro Pier Guidi take part in the home race in Austria at Red Bull Ring on 12 July.