Two controversial crashes made the Superstars season-finale at Pergusa a thriller down to the last minute of the championship. With Johan Kristoffersson six points ahead of Vitantonio Liuzzi, the Swede needed to place his Audi RS5 as high as possible to prevent the Italian from winning the title.
The STCC champion’s race was however cut short by an accident with Nico Caldarola, who crashed into the Audi at the Schumacher chicane after a mistake under braking.
With Liuzzi in third and only needing a fifth place to bring the title home, it was much like a matter of crossing the finish line. But a fight between the Italian, Andrea Larini and Simone Lacone resulted in a retirement for the two Mercedes drivers.
After the race Liuzzi made some comments through his column on Italian website omnicorse.it, stating that Larini shouldn’t have been allowed to race by the stewards.
“I lost a championship I had already won”, said the Italian. “I am really disappointed, not because I’m not the champion, but because of what happened in race two. I was intentionally collected by another Mercedes driven by someone who shouldn’t even have been allowed to race. In such a professional series as the Superstars, which has the potential to become an important international series, some people shouldn’t be allowed to race, because it takes a second to destroy a year’s efforts.”
Liuzzi said that Larini has been involved in several accidents and was never punished.
“Believe me, my career doesn’t change with a Superstars title [...]. It’s just disgraceful that the stewards have allowed a driver like Larini to race, someone who has been involved in contacts and accidents all year long and has never been punished for that,” said Liuzzi.
The former Grand Prix driver said that he is convinced the accident was intentional.
“I was in third [...] and I only needed a fifth to clinch the title. I was willing to let both Larini and Iacone through because there was a huge gap from the sixth and I could easily have managed the gap to stay in fifth. I couldn’t have imagined that someone wouldn’t have braked to collect my rear.
One has to be ‘unstable’ to behave like that: following a contact at Spa-Francorchamps he promised he’d throw me out of the track. Everybody knew what he wanted to do and that became apparent in Pergusa.
I don’t think anyone can doubt that the move was intentional. When I saw him in my rear-view mirrors I decided to let him through because I knew he wanted to spoil my race and the championship. There was another car between us but he didn’t brake to hit me and, once he cut the chicane, he didn’t follow a normal line to get back on track but steered to get in my way. There are no words to comment such a behaviour,” said Liuzzi.
Liuzzi also said that his C63 AMG was underdeveloped compared to the other Mercedes cars.
“My Mercedes wasn’t the most competitive, as we were not able to deliver all our developement plans, but we still managed to fight for the title with Kristoffersson until the end. We deserved to fight for it until the chequered flag. There have also been many chicane cuts during qualifying, which haven’t been punished, although everyone has seen those moves,” said Liuzzi.
Larini responded to the criticism on motorsportrants.com, accusing Liuzzi of having been involved in more incidents than him.
“He says I shouldn’t be allowed to race, but the championship’s success comes from drivers like me, who pay to be on the grid. Mr. Liuzzi has been involved in more race incidents compared to me, but he’s never been penalised. He had a contact with Morbidelli in Vallelunga and in Spa where, as the TV footage shows, I was thrown out of the track by him and damaged my steering. Doesn’t he remember that?”
“The stewards decided not to punish him, I was told that it was a normal race incident. He is the one who was over-protected and was allowed to do everything. I was always punished as soon as I made contact with anyone, like in Monza in the second race and Vallelunga race two,” said Larini.
Larini went on to comment on the accident at Pergusa.
“He claims there was a car between the two of us, which just isn’t true. I lost the car under braking and gave him the slightest of knocks, which didn’t do him any harm, as he could do the chicane with the normal line. I had to cut the corner and the tarmac was very dirty, I lost the car and spun on the track, and he collected me. This is a normal racing incident. He only needed to finish fifth at the end of the race, he could have let me through on the straight but he didn’t and elected to risk fighting with me. This is much like the accident between Caldarola and Kristoffersson, this is racing and it will always be like that.”
Larini called Liuzzi a “spoiled kid”, remembering that the Mercedes driver had complained about his broken exhaust at Mugello, where the Romeo Ferraris driver had won.
“He went to the stewards to complain about my broken exhaust, saying I should have been disqualified because I was dangerous. Is that a professional? This is just a spoiled kid, he thinks he can teach all of us how to drive in touring cars just because he raced in Formula One,” said Larini.
The championship was won by Johan Kristoffersson with a four point margin over Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Video of two incidents between Liuzzi and Larini, last weekend at Pergusa and then at Spa-Francorchamps back in July.