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Green Hybrid Cup Poznan 2014 - gas on track!
The entire season of the Green Hybrid Cup, a series organised by BRC – a manufacturer of autogas systems, including those in the racing Kia Vengas – consists of only six weekends over a period of several months across spring and summer, although there are two races during each such weekend. That means there are twelve races althogether, however in every other race (each Sunday's second) the order on the starting grid is reversed, but only within the best eight – the winners of the first run are pushed back and the losers are pushed forward. The average ones, who finish 4th/5th in the first race, gain nothing, but also lose nothing. Anyhow, since the number of races across the season is rather limited, speed and consistency are valuable right from the start.
This year, after two good races in the season's opening weekend at Vallelunga, Italy, the pack had been led by Jacopo Lombardelli – a young, yet ambitious contender of the 2013 iteration of the cup – and Jimmy Ghione, an experienced driver who came in second overall in 2013 (after the unbeatable 18-year-old Alessandra Brena) and won in 2012, when the series was called the Green Scout Cup and the cars were not hybrids. And so the Poznan round was dominated by Lombardelli and Ghione, although the inconspicuous Paolo Palanti, eighth after round one, proved to be the weekend's dark horse. He took the pole position after winning the qualifications and made his first victory in the series out of it, even though he gave up the lead for one lap to Jimmy Ghione and Giuseppe Gulizia, who overtook Palanti on the initial straight, making good use of their EV "boosters”. Once Palanti reclaimed the lead, Ghione and Gulizia fought fervently for the second place, but then Jacopo Lombardelli took advantage of their slight collision and overtook them both. Gulizia had to retire early having suffered a gearbox malfunction on lap seven. He then managed to return for race two after a repair.
Palanti's consistency allowed him to remain in the lead for the rest of the run and take victory. Lombardelli and Ghione finished second and third, respectively, so the overall standings remain pretty much unchanged – Lombardelli still tops them, but now with a few more points ahead of Ghione (the former was only two points away from the latter after the Vallelunga season opener), who remains second. Paolo Palanti has gone up, but still poses no threat to the leaders. As it turned out, there was much more emotion coming in the day's second race. No wonder there was – the first run's winners, pushed back to mid-pack positions, are always eager to get back to the leading spots as fast as possible (the race only lasts for 20 minutes plus one lap, so time is limited), which is bound to make on-track battle hotter and raises the risk of collisions. And indeed, on lap two, after a „close encounter” with one of the rivals, racing veteran Arturo Merzario was out of the contest (he damaged his car's oil cooler and had to retire, with his machine "bleeding”). Once that happened, yellow flag appeared and slowed the race down. As there was fear of oil spills and debris on track, the safety car was launched to lead the pack and stewards came onto the track to inspect it. Overtaking was temporarily forbidden, but time kept running out – races end after 20 minutes plus one lap, irrespective of the circumstances.
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