Misano pole-sitters Team Italy lost out on victory due to minor errors in their first race, but the brand-new team know the pace is there after setting the fastest lap on race day, and are hoping for more luck at Brno next month.
Ermanno Dionisio started the Audi RS 3 from pole position, but dropped behind the fast-starting Volkswagen of Alfredo De Matteo at the start.
The 60-year-old motor racing veteran held second place for six laps, until he lost ground following an incident with the NOS Racing Volkswagen of Gabriele Giorgi. Team Italy then followed the same pit stop strategy as eventual race winner Gabriele Volpato, by pitting early behind the safety car when Giorgi crashed out on lap seven.
Unfortunately, Dionisio then lost time during his second stint due to a problem with the front-left wheel, which was resolved when the team pitted just after one hour to hand the car over to Giacomo Barri.
While Barri was fast as soon as he hit the track, a mistake by the team, putting the tyres out in the pit lane too early, meant they also had to serve a drive-through penalty, meaning the best possible result on Sunday was third.
“The team is new, and we know we can improve,” said Barri. “We just had two problems. First, the issue we had with the front-left, and then the drive-through.
“But it’s just the first race for Team Italy, so we’re happy because we’ve got the podium – and we’re also very happy with the tyres. They managed 45-50 minutes easily, and we still set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap.”
“Those problems cost us one minute and 30 seconds because of the wheel problem, and then another minute because of the drive-through, so without these problems, we’d have won by 1m 30,” added Dionisio.
“It’s our first race with my own team, and I’m very happy, because the car is perfect. I’m not too fast, but I’m consistent, and Giacomo is very fast, and our strategy was perfect.
“I think the next race in Brno will be fine with just a little more luck.”