Solaris Motorsport restarts from the 7th place in Estoril

Estoril, Portugal – Solaris Motorsport’s 2017 season begins with the 7th place overall, 4th in PRO class, grabbed by Francesco Sini and Mauro Calamia at the end of Race 2 in the International GT Open season opener event at Estoril. Normally this is not a satisfying result for the Pescara-based team, but considering the difficulties faced at the beginning of the season – the huge crash during a winter test – can be taken as a good starting point.

The Portughese weekend of the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 began on Thursday when the Solaris Motorsport technicians used the collective test session as a first shake down of the rebuilt car, checking that everything was ok after the huge work they had to complete in April. The car didn’t reveal any technical or structural problem, but suffered on the setup side of a general lack of grip all weekend long.

After posting the tenth best time in Friday’s free practices, the Vantage grabbed the ninth row on the Race 1 starting grid with Calamia at the wheel. Thanks to a good start, the Swiss driver climbed back to P12, but after a contact he moved down to P15. At the driver’s change, Siri replaced Calamia at the wheel of the Aston Martin but after few laps he reported big driveability problems due to a consistent grip lack. The race quickly turned into a test session, with the #007 Aston Martin coming to the pits three times, testing different setup solutions without minding about the race result.

The rain and the cold temperature that came on Sunday seemed to favour the English coupè, which brought Sini the ninth position in the second qualifying session, after battling for the Top5. The race was very different from the previous race held 24 hours earlier. “Ringhio” was protagonist of the first part of the race thanks to a fast Aston that allowed the Italian to overtake many rivals and remain in the Top 10. At the driver’s change, Calamia took advantage of the new tires and climbed up to P7 with an aggressive but smart strategy, attacking when it was necessary and defending when the race conditions required it. Under the checkered flag, Sini-Calamia were 7th, 4th in the PRO class. A result that brought a little smile back for the Solaris Motorsport guys at the end of a difficult weekend.

It was a strange weekend, difficult, probably unexpected. We suffered a general lack of grip all weekend long and this brought us not exactly brilliant results. Sunday’s Race 2 performance was better than the Saturday’s one for sure, but it wasn’t enought. – commented Francesco SiniBut, if we consider where we were 20 days ago, well, the result here in Estoril is anyway positive. Now we have to understand what didn’t work here in order to come back fighting on top in Spa!

If we take a look to the entire weekend, the seventh place is a good result. We improved a lot both the car and its behaviour between Saturday and Sunday, but we need to improve again because we had some problem at the end of the race. – said Mauro CalamiaWe have a month to work before Spa, we have to understand what was wrong here and go to the Belgium able to be competitive from the Friday free practice!

We knew it wasn’t easy, the crash slowed our planning and we needed to make sure everything was fine. We were late in preparation and we suffered a continuous lack of grip, in an unexpected way. But, and I’m proud of that, we found the way to react and bring home a 7th place, Francesco could have entered the Top5 in qualifying, Mauro completed two great stints. These results showed we have the potential we need, but we have to find the way to…stabilize it. A lot of work awaits us at the workshop, we want to come back fighiting for the podium as we did in Barcelona last year.” commented Roberto Sini, Solaris Motorsport Team Principal.

International GT Open next round is scheduled for the end of May, on the 27-28th weekend, on the historical Belgian track of Spa-Francorchamps, one of the most beautiful F1 GP circuits.

Massimiliano Palumbo