Jun 1, 2024

Lirim Zendeli (Ombra Racing – Centro Porsche Bergamo) saw a fair amount of action in the third round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Italia at the Autodromo di Imola and he really had to work hard for an eventual fifth place finish. Up at the front, another dominant win in the 30-lap race went to Larry ten Voorde (Fulgenzi Racing) ahead of Lirim’s Ombra Racing team-mate, Keagan Masters and Marvin Klein (Target Competition).

After losing almost all Free Practice on Friday due to a heavy downpour, which meant that Lirim did not set a valid lap time, this morning’s Qualifying session was the first opportunity for the 33-car field to get to grips with the Imola track. Showing a rapid adaptation to his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machine, the Monaco Increase contracted driver qualified in P5 for the first race today, which was held in perfect weather conditions, and in P7 for the second encounter tomorrow.

At the start, the German-Albanian driver powered away into P4 on the opening lap, despite being forced to take to the grass not even 500 metres into the race. Lirim did extremely well to survive that hairy moment but from then onwards he felt that something wasn’t right with his 911 GT3 machine and he immediately lost out to his fellow Rookies trophy challenger, the Italian Francesco Braschi (Dinamic Motorsport) on the second lap.

Two periods behind the Safety Car for incidents bunched up the field twice and, on the restarts, Lirim found himself again embroiled in the battle for fifth place against Diego Bertonelli (Driving Experiences) and, in the final stages, Janne Stiak (Target Competition). After another couple of contacts and wheels-on-the-grass moments, Zendeli was unable to hold off his Italian rival on the final lap and he took the chequered flag in sixth place, but the officials penalized Bertonelli for the move with a five-second penalty and Lirim was promoted to fifth place.

“There were so many incidents at the start, but I got a good one and was almost able to catch P3, I would have if I hadn’t been pushed onto the grass,” declared Lirim. “Then I had a fight with Braschi, we touched as well, and then with Bertonelli; he pushed me wide in Tosa and passed me. And then I went out on my own, the car felt like there was something wrong, right from the first moment I felt my right rear had a puncture and I had a lot of understeer. I couldn’t push hard in the corners because the car was moving around, and then half-way through it got worse and at some point, I was only sliding. So that was basically my race.”