Despite some setbacks, CAAL Racing’s Max Lanza and Roberto Benedetti were able to grab their first Trophy podiums of the year in the 2023 EuroNASCAR season opening round at Valencia.
Max Lanza and Roberto Benedetti completed their first race weekend as teammates onboard CAAL Racing‘s No. 88 Avangarde Group Camaro in last week’s Valencia NASCAR Fest, held at EuroNASCAR’s traditional season opening venue Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
The weekend at Valencia was a tale of two halves for the Italian duo. Both Lanza and Benedetti were able to secure their first podiums of the year in their first race, but they had a first lap incident in the second race that hampered their chances for a strong finish.
Lanza, who is embarking on his second full-time campaign in EuroNASCAR PRO, ran a quiet but solid race in the Saturday race. Taking the start of the race from seventeenth on the grid, Lanza would finish the race in fifteenth position to claim second place in the Challenger Trophy podium.
Lanza very nearly won the sub-classification trophy had he was just a fraction ahead of the eventual winner Fabrizio Armetta. Armetta finished 5.010 seconds ahead of Lanza, but he received a 5-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with his teammate Riccardo Romagnoli.
Once the penalty was applied and the results were finalized, it meant that Lanza narrowly missed out on the Challenger Trophy victory by 0.010 seconds.
“For one half, I’m satisfied with our weekend, for the other half not so much,” said Lanza on his performance in Valencia. “We had some issues at the beginning, but thanks to the CAAL Racing technicians we found a way to improve our performance and we saw the result in Race 1. We could win, but contact slowed us. That was a pity, but the solid pace remains.”
Lanza then started the Sunday race from eighteenth on the grid. Lanza’s lack of one-lap race pace that left him down on the running order would ultimately hurt him, as he and Romagnoli made contact at the start that instantly eliminated the 42-year old driver out of the race.
“We must work on our performance on the flying lap,” admits Lanza. “The goal for Brands Hatch is to enter the Top 10 in qualifying. We could also do it here, but I found a bit of traffic on my lap.”
For Roberto Benedetti, his weekend started with a thirteenth and eleventh place finish in the two official Friday Practice sessions. On Saturday, he qualified the No. 88 Camaro in twelfth, nearly 2 seconds behind the top Legend Trophy driver Claudio Remigio Cappelli.
The first race that followed later that day went much better for Benedetti as he took advantage of numerous incidents that happened in the mid-pack to fight way up to eighth place. It was a position that he would keep at the checkered flag as he secured the runner-up spot in Legend Trophy, finishing just 2.463 seconds behind winner Riccardo Romagnoli.
“We started the season from the top-10!” exclaimed Benedetti after the weekend. “It’s a very good start for us! I’m very happy about what we did this weekend and how we reacted to having a good performance in Race 1.”
Sadly, the second race did not go so well for the 49-year old driver. Starting the race from twelfth place, Benedetti was involved in a first-lap incident with Paolo Valeri that left him several laps down after he made an unscheduled visit to the pit stop for repairs. He would ultimately finish in 22nd place, three laps down from race winner Vladimiros Tziortzis.
“On Saturday I preferred a secure P2 without taking any risk, which is a good decision seeing how Race 2 went…” admits Benedetti.
Lanza will a lot of work to do for the next round at Brands Hatch as he finds himself in 26th position in the EuroNASCAR PRO standings after the season opening round. Benedetti, on the other hand, is currently thirteenth in the standings, 9 points behind top Legend driver Romagnoli.
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