BVM Racing’s Francesco Simonazzi warmed up for his Euroformula campaign with two wins in the Austrian Formula 3 Cup and F2000 Italian Trophy’s joint opening round at Mugello.
Simonazzi topped qualifying by 1.059 seconds, but due to his experience was a guest driver and so second-fastest driver Juju Noda was officially awarded pole ahead of Paolo Brajnik.
The trio were among seven drivers in the Dallara 320 cars used in Euroformula, although Simonazzi is the only one confirmed to race there.
Noda’s father Hideki, who runs the Noda Racing team Juju drives for, has talked with Euroformula organiser GT Sport, indicated interest in racing there and entered pre-season testing, but is undecided on joining. Euroformula remains a consideration “depending on the results” in Italy.
Last year Noda raced a FRegional car in the centrally-run W Series and part-time in the Austrian F3 Cup, and for 2023 will do the seven-round F2000 Italian Trophy season and the Austrian F3 Cup’s Hockenheim round.
Brajnik failed to start race one at Mugello, with his grid spot left empty, so Marco Falci was in third when the cars lined up to race.
Simonazzi made a great start and sprinted away, while Noda bogged down. She dropped to fourth, lost another place at turn one, then was passed by Alessandro Bracalente later around the lap to end it in seventh place.
A gap of 2.269s had already been opened up between Simonazzi and second-placed Benjamin Berta by lap three, while Noda applied pressure to Bracalente but could not find a way past.
She finally gained a place on lap eight when Francesco Galli spun out of third, potentially after some light contact from Falci as they lapped cars from the lower classes, but there were no further gains as the safety car then appeared.
Simonazzi’s huge lead was reduced to nothing and he sat behind the safety car until the end of lap 12 as Edoardo Bonanomi came to a stop on track after Galli’s car had been retrieved.
The safety car returned to the pits after the race clock hit zero, with the ‘plus one lap’ board being shown as drivers reached the start/finish line. In the one lap of green flag action, Simonazzi pulled away again and Noda passed Bracalente for fifth. Falci held on to third by 0.011s ahead of Sandro Zeller.
Noda made a far better start to race two, keeping second place but having no answer to poleman Simonazzi. He was 3.923s ahead after three laps, with the gap then stabilising until lap seven when Noda closed in by 1.988s. The gap decreased by another 1.583s on the lap after as Simonazzi tackled lapped traffic.
Noda was just 0.121s behind when Simonazzi was handed a three-second penalty for track limits abuse, after which he started to pull away and managed to create enough of a lead to negate his penalty and win.
Falci spent many laps being attacked by Bracalente for third until the race’s second half when they came across lapped traffic. Bernardo Pellegrini profited from Bracalente’s struggles in traffic to pass him for fourth, then the latter had a crash with Savatore Marinaro that earned him a 10s penalty and dropped him from fifth to eighth.
Race 1 (13 laps)
1 Francesco Simonazzi BVM Racing 28m10.411s
2 Benjamin Berta Franz Woss Racing +2.677s
3 Marco Falci Nannini Racing +4.183s
4 Sandro Zeller Jo Zeller Racing +4.194s
5 Juju Noda Noda Racing +4.699s
6 Alessandro Bracalente One Sport Performance +5.491s
7 Riccardo Perego Team Perego +14.301s
8 Dino Rasero Puresport +15.147s
9 Andrea Benalli Puresport +16.796s
10 Enzo Stentella Tvs Motorsport +16.953s
Pole: Simonazzi, 1m39.192s
Fastest lap: Simonazzi
Race 2 (16 laps)
1 Simonazzi 27m15.968s
2 Noda +0.443s
3 Falci +20.461s
4 Bernardo Pellegrini Ht Powertrain +28.668s
5 Zeller +33.974s
6 Francesco Galli G Motorsport +34.253s
7 Berta +40.036s
8 Bracalente +40.977s
9 Rasero +51.937s
10 Perego +1m19.148s
FL: Simonazzi, 1m39.254s