Team Identity / Monza
Suddenly it’s May 13, and this month’s editorial is
almost two weeks late. In fairness (excuse no. 104 coming up). It
has been a frantic three weeks here – for ourselves and for
teams involved in the Le Mans Test Day, Magny-Cours, Mondello and
Monza – and now it’s Hockenheim.
We did have a mid-April
editorial lined up, on the subject of teams having their own identity,
but that was consigned to the recycle bin, as just a touch too controversial.
Let’s just make the point now though that characters such
as Leo Hindery and Martin Short (add Sam Li to the list after Monza)
are vital ingredients in this crazy world of sportscar racing. Hindery
and Short for getting out there and doing it themselves, Li for
allowing his superstars to get out there and do it in such a thrilling
So that brings us to
Monza. John Macdonald did have the core of a fantastic series with
the ELMS: the sense of frustration was widespread when that series
didn’t continue for a second year. But patience is a virtue,
and the ‘Le Mans’ name helped kick the LMES into vibrant
life on May 7-9. Sam Li added one extra special ingredient, but
every one of the entries (well, almost every one) played a part
in creating a platform for future success.
It’s a mystery
why the Italian fans didn’t flock to the track in numbers:
those who did, saw a memorable event. Following it in the press
room, the five hours went by in a flash. It was one of those races
where you couldn’t take your eyes off the screen for a moment,
fear of missing something significant.
It began with first chicane
dramas, had a first stint featuring the Wallace-driven Zytek all
over the Audis like a rash, then marched onwards for lap after lap
of furious racing – usually between McNish and Herbert. Some
had read the rule book carefully: there was no rule to stipulate
a maximum of three hours in a car at a stretch, so McNish passed
that landmark. Then he got back in for the last 48 minutes. Racing
luck seemed to favour the Herbert / Davies car almost throughout
the race, but perhaps it was as simple as the fact that Herbert
was in the 88 car throughout the last (almost) three-quarters of
the race, and had track position from the moment he passed Pierre
Kaffer with that sensational move on the grass out of Ascari, on
You could hardly have
faulted Sam Li if he’d given the command to hold track position
– at any time during the second half of the race. To his immense
credit, he didn’t. And as predicted by Audi’s Martyn
Pass, the first thing Allan McNish did after crossing the line was
to offer his congratulations to the winner, over the radio.
The two purple and silver
cars are going to be very tough to beat on this form.
MotorsTV is a tough act
to follow too. Those stuck at home had the chance to enjoy hours
of outstanding coverage of this epic: one can only wonder at the
frustration felt as the scene switched back to the BTCC, but perhaps
that series has an appeal to viewers too.
channel then followed the live coverage with a two hour highlights
programme. Mrs. Ed. even deigned to watch it, so it must have been
a good race. We know it was an outstanding race.
Now all we need is some
very careful managing of the regulations, to allow new cars, whenever
they appear, to slip in without upsetting those who made the investment
and commitment to be at Monza.
At last, in Europe, we
have a Le Mans-rules series to match the format that has worked
so well in North America.