Aleksander Schjerpen got his 2020 season off to a superb start in Mugello, Italy last weekend, winning the AM class and finishing third overall in GT4 onboard the NOVA Race Mercedes AMG GT4 with co-driver Luca Magnoni.
Like most other series around the world, the ongoing impact of the current pandemic resulted in a delayed start to the Italian GT Championship and a revised calendar of events for the 2020 season. While Schjerpen had been confirmed to return to NOVA Race for 2020, his participation in last weekend’s event was cast with doubt until a very late update to the green list of travel routes from Norway was made to include Italy just late last week. This allowed the Norwegian GT Star to be able to fly down just in time for the event.
Having finished the 2019 season with a late change to the all-new Mercedes, 2020 would essentially mean a return to familiar machinery, but this time for the whole season. Both Aleksander and the team were feeling confident that this would allow them to mount a serious attack on winning this year’s championship, having come so close in 2019.
After being out of the car for so long, both drivers had hoped to maximise the three free practice sessions spread across Friday & Saturday morning. However a heavy downpour early on Friday morning upset their plans. With dry conditions expected for the remainder of the weekend, the team opted to sit out the session. As promised, track conditions cleared up on Friday afternoon allowing the team to begin re-familiarising themselves with the workings of a race weekend with plenty of valuable track time achieved.
Continuing their development work into Saturday’s final free practice session of the weekend, the team were feeling positive going into qualifying. Luca Magnoni was first out on track, followed by Aleksander and then back to Luca to close out the three-part qualifying session. With their three times combined the Italian/Norwegian duo would line up P3 in class for Sunday’s 180-minute encounter.
Getting underway just before 3pm local time, Sunday’s three hour race would be as much down to tyre management as outright speed, such was the now intense heat at the Italian circuit. Luca Magnoni would start the race for the #277 crew with Schjerpen taking over control just after the one hour mark. As the lights went out, it wasn’t long before Magnoni had moved the NOVA Race Mercedes up to P2 in class and was setting off on cementing that position during the remainder of his stint. As the pitstop window opened, the Italian team performed a superb stop to place Aleksander into the car to return to the track in P2 for the second hour. Enjoying a good balance on the Mercedes and focused on preserving the tyres, Aleksander’s strong clean stint allowed him to retain their runner up position as the race moved into the final hour. Diving into the pits, it was back over to Luca Magnoni who now found himself slipping to P3 in class when the pitstop shuffle completed. Nevertheless, the crew were leading the AM class and with a drama-free final stint, he was able to secure the class win and P3 in GT4 overall as a solid beginning to their 2020 championship title bid.
Aleksander Schjerpen – #277 NOVA Race Mercedes AMG GT4:
“This has been a really great weekend here at Mugello. It was so nice to finally get behind the wheel of a race car again after so long away. All in all we’ve had a really good weekend. The team did a really great job all weekend and the car has been so good. We were a little bit unlucky in the race not to finish in P2 overall in GT4, but it’s good to get points on the board nice and early in the season and hopefully now we can build on this going into the next round.”
Italian GT Endurance Championship Round 2, Imola, Italy – Friday 28th – Sunday 30th August 2020.