After a very closely contested Elite Club round at Franciacorta where the top 5 was separated by less than one-tenths of a second in both sessions, 25-year old Italian Giovanni Trione in the No. 31 CAAL Toyota came out home as the winners after he scored the most overall points out of the 8 drivers that took part in yesterday’s Elite Club round. It was his first Elite Club victory and fittingly, he scored his first win on his home track at Franciacorta.
Trione set the best lap time during the first Elite Club session after he set a lap time of 1:26.006, just 0.006 seconds shy of the Target Time of 1:26.000. Alina Loibnegger (#66 Dexwet DF1 Camaro) was second with a lap time of 1:26.008, just 0.002 seconds behind Trione’s time, while her Dexwet DF1 teammate Alain Mosqueron in the No. 99 Camaro completes the podium with a best lap time of 1:26.037.
Callum Cripps in the No. 27 Alex Caffi Mustang just misses out on the podium after he set a best lap time of 1:26.072. Racing Engineering team owner Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón in the No. 88 Mustang was fifth with a best lap time of 1:26.093, while Alessio Bacci (#9 Racers Mustang) and Andreas Küchelbacher (#64 Speedhouse SS) finished 6th and 7th respectively. The returning Deo Alves (#19 Racers Mustang) was classified 8th and last with a best lap time of 1:29.282, the only driver whose best lap time was more than one second above the Target Time.
In the second session, it was Küchelbacher that set the best lap time. The 2017 Elite Club champion set a best lap time of 1:26.017, just 0.017 seconds slower the Target Time. Trione came home second with a best lap time of 1:26.021, while Cripps completes the podium with a best lap time of 1:26.029.
Mosqueron was fourth with a best lap time of 1:26.043, while de Orléans-Borbón was fifth again with a best lap time of 1:26.075. Bacci also finished sixth again in the second session with a best lap time of 1:26.119, while Loibnegger was the last classified driver in the second session with a best lap time of 1:26.156. Deo Alves did not take part in the second session, presumably due to a mechanical issue with the No. 19 Racers Mustang.
When the points are totalled, it was Trione who took the victory with 75 points scored. Küchelbacher was second with 70 points, while Cripps completes the overall podium in a tie-breaker with Mosqueron. The Brit’s best lap time of 1:26.029 in the second session was faster than Mosqueron’s best lap time of 1:26.037 set in the first session.
Myatt Snider, who was originally announced to take part in Elite Club for Franciacorta as a late-entry in the No. 48 Racing Engineering Mustang, ultimately did not take part in this round.
“Well, this is a great feeling. It’s my first time winning, first time racing in this Franciacorta circuit, it’s a great feeling, it’s a unique feeling,” said Trione in the Victory Lane interview. “This year will be hard, now with the rule of only one lap (counting for the classification), it will be harder, so hope I can get points in Hockenheim as well, but I hope to win (the Elite Club title) this time. The team deserves it, I deserve it, so let’s try to win,” added the Italian.
With Robert Schönau not competing in Franciacorta, Trione’s victory would send him to the top of the Elite Club Championship where currently sits on the top with 141 points. Küchelbacher is in second with 139 points, while Mosqueron is now third in the championship with 132 points. Bacci and de Orléans-Borbón are now fourth and fifth respectively. Both drivers are currently tied on 128 points, but Bacci had the advantage of scoring more points in one round than de Orléans-Borbón – 66-62 for Bacci compared to de Orléans-Borbón’s 64-64.
After an exciting round at Franciacorta for Elite Club, there will be a four-month long wait for the Elite Club drivers before they return to competition at Hockenheim later this September.
For both the full Results and current Elite Club Championship standings, you can check it out via the link here.
Photos are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Michael Großgarten.