Gabriele Minì made it five points finishes from a possible five with P6 in the Sprint Race at Imola that wasn’t without its challenges.

The PREMA Racing driver battled back after losing ground in the early laps and fought with ART Grand Prix’s Laurens van Hoepen for the majority of proceedings.

A brave overtaking manoeuvre on the Dutchman moved him up the order, and he was quick to profit from a late-race Virtual Safety Car too. It earned the Italian enough points to move him level with Hitech Pulse-Eight’s Luke Browning and Trident driver Leonardo Fornaroli at the top of the Drivers’ Championship on 37 points.

“It was a pretty nice race,” Minì said afterwards. “We didn’t get that many laps where we could push so it was quite eventful. I had a pretty decent start, got on the inside then tried to defend. There was some contact in front of me, so I had to slow down, and I lost a place there.

“Then I had van Hoepen go wide in front of me, so it wasn’t the greatest of starts, two laps, two places lost. I just tried to manage my tyres from there, but because there weren’t so many racing laps it didn’t pay off as much.

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“In the end, I just waited for the others’ mistakes and think I did a pretty nice overtake at Turn 5. We worked pretty well, and I gained a few spots. So, it was pretty good.”

The aforementioned overtake on van Hoepen saw Minì weigh up plenty of risk for a sweet reward. Going late on the brakes at Turn 5, he earned himself enough racing room into the second portion of the chicane and positioned his car to claim seventh position on Lap 12 on corner exit.

The Italian driver said afterwards that he had been sizing up a move into one of the chicanes for a number of laps in the wake of the ART ahead.

Minì says the lessons from his 2023 rookie campaign have helped his approach and scoring streak in 2024
Minì says the lessons from his 2023 rookie campaign have helped his approach and scoring streak in 2024

“I was really close already in T1, following him closely for so many laps, I knew that I had a good opportunity and needed to get the move done and that this was it. Basically, I put everything into Turn 1, he braked really late to not let me get to his outside.

“It was a clean move and battle, I then tried to go outside of T5, and it was really tight, he didn’t leave me a lot of space, just enough for me to stay there and it was pretty good. It was risky, I knew that it was a risk I was taking, but from experience I knew it would work because I’ve done similar moves at that corner in the past. But it was nice clean racing.”

With five valuable points, Minì lifted himself to become a joint-Championship leader heading into Sunday’s Feature Race with rivals Browning and Fornaroli failing to score in the Sprint.

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After a rookie campaign in 2023 that he admits was blighted by inconsistency, penalties and other issues, the Alpine Academy prospect says his approach is to maximise all of his possibilities, rather than lose out in the pursuit of a result that would be out of reach.

“Last year, that was my issue – not having many points finishes in a row. After the first three rounds or five races between Sprint and Features, I had around 60 points. By the end of the Championship, I only had 90 because of crashes or penalties.

“This year is another way of doing things, I’m trying to be careful but still be aggressive. In the overtakes, last year I would have sent it a bit too hard, or I would’ve made a big mistake on a Qualifying lap trying to do 110% all the time.

“This year I’m trying to show that for the moment, gaining points all the time will work. It has worked so far, but we know that some DNFs are completely out of a drivers’ hands. We just have to keep working on being quick.”