David Tonizza began the GT World Challenge Esports season in perfect fashion with an impressive run to victory in the opening Sprint Series race at Monza.
The #95 FDA Esports Team Ferrari driver triumphed from pole position at his home circuit, but it was by no means a simple affair. The Italian lost the lead at the start as both Kevin Siggy (#11 Team Redline McLaren) and Josh Rogers (#81 VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche) steamed past into turn 1, relegating the Ferrari man to third for the first phase of the race.
But there was more to come from Tonizza. Initially it was Rogers who looked most likely to knock Siggy off top spot, but the leading McLaren driver was inch-perfect in his defence. Then, on the 15-minute mark, the leaders went three-wide up the long start-finish straight. Tonizza managed to position himself on the inside for the opening chicane and braked just late enough to snatch the lead.
Determined to remain in the hunt, Rogers forced his way through to second a lap later. But the Porsche driver could do nothing about the Ferrari, which managed to maintain a gap of around three seconds until the pit window and, following a clean stop, all the way to the chequered flag.
The final spot on the podium went to Nils Naujoks (#62 BMW Motorsport SIM Racing G2 Esports). He was eighth with 15 minutes left on the clock, but came alive during the closing stages and passed Siggy for fourth less than 10 minutes later. This became third when leading privateer Amir Hosseini (#92 McLaren) was handed a penalty for track limits violations.
Giovanni De Salvo was fourth to complete an excellent day for the FDA Esports Team. James Baldwin (#28 Mclaren Shadow) was fifth after an eventful race that involved more than one trip into the gravel, though as ever his pace was plain to see.
Eamonn Murphy (#420 Was Heat McLaren) was sixth, while Siggy was seventh and may be disappointed after contending for the win early on. Martin Krönke (#5 VRS Coanda Simsport Porsche) was classified eighth, while Darren King (#38 Dalking Community Team Honda) and Lucas Müller (#23 Haupt Racing Team Schindler Mercedes-AMG) completed the top-10 and the points scorers.
The top-five finishers are also guaranteed a spot on the grid for the second round of the Sprint Series, which will be staged at Circuit Paul Ricard on 11 June. Many of them will be in action tomorrow when the Endurance Series launches with a three-hour race at Monza, which gets underway at 17:00 CEST and will be broadcast on the SRO YouTube and Twitch channels.