Team Mulsanne believes it is making steady progress towards the top ten positions with its pair of Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCRs and is targeting grabbing its first points of the season when the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) resumes at Vila Real in Portugal in three weeks’ time.
Running the Giulietta TCR developed by the Romeo Ferraris organisation, Team Mulsanne’s drivers, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Gianni Morbidelli, were in the thick of the action during the last round, held a fortnight ago at Zandvoort, where they weren’t too far off a top ten position.
Michela Cerruti, Operations Manager at Romeo Ferraris, explained: “The qualifying results proved that our Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris are now battling for midfield positions, and in the races, the top ten has been within reach.”
It was a bruising weekend for Giovanardi who suffered an accident in the second race and with only a short time period before the third and final race there was no time to fix the car and he was rendered a spectator, while Morbidelli also had little to take home from the weekend in terms of meaningful results.
“Fabrizio was involved in two contacts, with the second one barring him the possibility to compete in Race 3,” says Cerruti – who reckons that despite the results on paper the team enjoyed its best weekend of the year so far and clear progress has been made. “Gianni was touched and sent into a spin while very close to the points, which is almost a consolation with respect to the situation in Marrakech six weeks ago, as it means we have done great progress.”
Morbidelli left Zandvoort with a season best finishing position of thirteenth place, that came in Race 2, while Giovanardi scored a weekend high of sixteenth place, in Race 1, the only one of which he saw the chequered flag.
The Italian team’s attention is now on the fifth round of the year, which comes up in three weeks’ time. “We need to continue working hard and we are already focused on the next round, in June, at Vila Real, in Portugal,” Cerruti added.
The Portuguese round, held on the Circuito Internacional de Vila Real, 23-24 June, is a street track and thus poses a new challenge for the WTCR teams and drivers. Racing between the houses often changes the variables – as well as causing a high attrition rate – and the team will also be looking to the vast experience of Morbidelli and Giovanardi to help drive them forward in their quest for points.
It’s a circuit oozing history and intrigue and racing has been held on the hillside roads of Vila Real since 1931, when Gaspar Sameiro and Ercilio Barbosa conquered the original 7.150-kilometre course in a Ford Model A.
Safety and financial factors meant races were held on an irregular basis until the WTCC’s arrival in 2015 provided stability and Vila Real’s first world championship-level race meeting. The 4.785-kilometre layout now used is a challenging blend of turns, climbs and descents. While a handful of chicanes were installed for safety reasons, the spectacle remains unaltered with speeds nearing 230kph on the final downhill section.
Photos: Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup 2018