October 22, 2023: The Youngtimer Cup celebrates the Italian Speed Festival with two tight and entertaining races, featuring both new and familiar faces. Compagnoni achieved a double victory at Misano, breaking the dominance of Panini’s Marcos Mantis, with Panini’s mechanics playing a prominent role between race 1 and race 2.
In the first qualifying session, it became evident that the competition would be intense down to the wire. Matteo Panini secured the pole position for his Marcos Mantis Challenge (Circolo della Biella) with a time of 1’49″030. However, Nazareno Compagnoni from Marche, driving the Alfa Romeo 147 (Sesa Racing), was closer than ever to the season’s dominator.
The second row of the grid was occupied by two familiar faces in the Youngtimer Cup, Arturo “Claudio” Pucciarelli, driving an Alfa Romeo 156 E1 FIA (Sesa Racing), and Giovanni Buganza, with his Alfa Romeo 156 Super Turismo FIA (Team Xmotor).
At the start of race-1, Compagnoni immediately launched an attack on the GT driven by the pole position holder. At the first corner, it was Compagnoni’s 147 from Marche that took the lead, followed by Panini, Buganza, and Pucciarelli.
While Compagnoni managed to pull a slight lead, the trio of pursuers remained very close, and in the second lap, there was a surprising turn of events. Buganza spun out and lost ground in the battle at the front. Around the same time, Panini also spun out. The gentleman driver from Modena was already experiencing issues with his differential, which would soon force him to retire from the race.
The race turned into a distant battle between the leader, Compagnoni, and his teammate, Pucciarelli. Throughout the race, the two drivers maintained similar lap times, never really engaging in a wheel-to-wheel duel.
Towards the end, Panini managed to close in on the second position, but he could not challenge Pucciarelli as his differential gave out, forcing the Mantis to a disappointing retirement. The third position was inherited by Buganza, who did well to recover after his initial spin.
At the end of the race, Pucciarelli expressed his happiness with the team’s result, saying, “It was a good second place for me, and I’m pleased that our team’s 147 took the victory. The 147 has a strong and powerful engine, and Compagnoni deservedly won. We had a good battle with Panini and Buganza at the start, and I hope they are close to me in race-2 so that I can have even more fun.”
Nazareno Compagnoni expressed his satisfaction after breaking the dominance of the UK-made GT, stating, “Keeping Puccio (Pucciarelli) behind me wasn’t easy, but I had an excellent engine with good power, and I managed to control it. At the start, I thought Panini would take the lead, but I had a good start, and my car was ready with the tires at the right temperature, allowing me to lead into the first corner.”
“Pucciarelli is always very strong, and I tend to be a bit anxious, feeling the pressure. Panini was gaining on me in the fast section, the Carro area, but my 147 was very agile in the mixed section, and I could pull away in the first part of the track.”
In the qualifications for race-2, the rivalry between Compagnoni and Panini continued, with the former securing the pole position by just one thousandth of a second ahead of the driver from Modena. Pucciarelli and Gaudenzi (Alfa Romeo 156 E1 FIA – Team DG Motorsport) took the second row, but they were somewhat further behind the leading duo.
On the grid, much to the delight of everyone, Panini‘s Marcos Mantis was able to take its place thanks to a lightning-fast differential replacement performed by his team.
At the start of race-2, the script repeated itself, with Compagnoni being the fastest and taking the lead. Panini and Pucciarelli were closely glued together, battling for the second position. As the laps went by, Compagnoni secured his second victory of the day, and the duel between the British Marcos Mantis and the Italian Alfa Romeo 156 became increasingly intense.
With one lap to go, Pucciarelli launched an attack at the Rio corner, but Panini didn’t yield and promptly responded to his rival, retaining the second place until the checkered flag.
Armando De Vuono, driving a BMW M3 E36, took a respectable fourth position, albeit somewhat off the pace due to performance reasons).
Matteo Panini, who finished 2nd in race-2 after his mechanics accomplished the remarkable feat of replacing the differential of the Marcos Mantis Challenge in just 2 hours, expressed his thoughts: “We did a job Formula 1 style, changing the differential in just two hours. Unfortunately, the part is not motorsport-specific, and that affected the performance. It is a differential for road cars, not designed for racing in the Youngtimer category at Misano. I am extremely happy to have finished the race this way, but I know the car has much more potential. I must say that the level of the competitors is rising, and the category is highly competitive. This is the kind of motorsport I enjoy.”