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LMES – Monza 1000 Kms – Preview
Half The Le Mans Entry – Plus
(Into The Unknown, Or Predictable Winners?)

A few stats. to start the LMES ball rolling:
55 cars originally entered this, the first ever LMES event.
41 cars look as though they will take to the track on Friday morning.
26 of the 41 were present at the Le Mans Test Day.
2 significant LMP1s for Monza weren’t at the Le Mans Test Day – the Creation Autosportif DBA and the Team Jota Zytek.
14 LMP1s will line up at Monza.
4 LMP2s will line up at Monza.
6 GTSs will line up at Monza.
17 GTs will line up at Monza.

For comparison, Sebring numbers for each class were:
12 LMP1s (5 one-off entries from Europe).
7 LMP2s.
6 GTSs (2).
19 GTs (5).
44 Total.

So Monza numbers are less than Sebring (although more than will be expected at Mid-Ohio, of course).

41is still a very good total, for the first round of the new series. Reasons for withdrawals are as diverse as you would expect, but the core of competitive entries in each class remains. This is going to be very good from the outset, and get better and better.

Correction: Having been led to believe that a Konrad Motorsport Saleen wouldn't be at Monza (effectively it isn't) we now have it confirmed that the Vitaphone Racing (FIA GT) chassis will be present this weekend, for Alzen / Bartels / Konrad. That changes the look of the GTS Class completely.

Into the unknown, or predictable winners? Much more the former than the latter, we reckon. Let’s look at the GT Class first.

If you had to pick a winner, the logical choice would be the Freisinger Porsche (Ortelli / Dumas), but if you had to pick the other podium places…? This class is reminiscent of the Le Mans 1000 Kms last November: there will be some very good GT racing, and any two of several other cars could fill the other two top spots – or take the win. JMB, Autorlando, Perspective, Racers Group, Seikel, Chamberlain-Synergy, T2M and Cirtek’s Porsche all look as though they could have what it takes.

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Recent driver additions see Peter Kox in the Ian Khan, ex-EMKA 911, Piers Masarati in the Sebah car, Sascha Maassen in the Cirtek RSR and Wolfgang Kaufmann driving for T2M.

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GTS has a clear favourite – the Larbre Ferrari 550, for Pedro Lamy / Christophe Bouchut / Steve Zacchia. Barron Connor’s 575s weren’t quite in the same league as Larbre’s Prodrive-built car at the Le Mans Test Day, but have the advantage of a race under their belt (Sebring). Force One is bringing a Viper, we understand, rather than the Pagani, and the GNM Saleen (Beppe Gabbiani’s son driving) and MAC Racing Viper complete the class. It can only get bigger. A shame that the Corvettes weren’t tempted by a race in May.

(see the addendum above regarding the Vitaphone Saleen)

LMP2 numbers just four starters: Belmondo’s C65 AER, PiR’s Pilbeam JPX, Randaccio’s Tampolli ‘Ford’and Intersport’s B2K / 40 Judd. We’ll call this a Judd vs. AER head to head, but both cars have a certain newness about them, so anything could happen: a re-run of Sebring… last one still standing?

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LMP1: a slight pause needed to assess very recent entry changes. The most recent entry list issued by the organisers doesn’t include the Intersport Lola B160 Judd (reason unknown, although Duncan Dayton is in the B2K / 40), while the Lister is also deleted (the inexperienced Jens Moller prefers to test rather than race, in preparation for Le Mans), and the Durango gets the chop – but the Taurus Lolas are included now.

Staying with Ian Dawson’s cars, it looks as though Calum Lockie will race the diesel-powered car on its (race) debut, with Le Mans partner Phil Andrews. Benjamin Leuenberger and Alex Muller are in the Judd-powered B2K / 10, as planned.

This is the most interesting class – although the one hardest hit by withdrawals. 19 were on the original list.

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The question becomes – can one or more of Creation’s DBA, Rollcentre’s Dallara, Advan’s Dome, Pescarolo’s Pescarolo or the two Zyteks get on terms with the three Audis? It’s as simple as that.

Monza won’t suit the lighter cars as much as the other three LMES circuits, and the Audis have to start as favourites. Both Team Goh and Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx won last time out (Goh at Le Mans in November, Veloqx at Sebring), so which team will remain victorious – or will one of the above harry them all the way to the flag?

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It’s a tall order, but the DBA and Jota cars on Dunlops and the factory Zytek on Michelins will be going for it, Pescarolo’s 5 litre Judd might be perfect for Monza, the Dome will probably be fastest of all on the straights and the Rollcentre Dallara has a great result at Sebring behind it already.

Tommy Erdos will be a contender in qualifying, the form (and economy) of the Nasamax will be interesting, the Spinnaker Dallara has a lot of ground to make up – this is going to be a fascinating event.

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Allan McNish sums up what you need in a prototype at Monza: “Ideally, you want a car that has good straight-line speed and also enough downforce for the slow corners but you cannot have both and so a compromise must be achieved.”

Each of the four events is of vital importance: “We’re not going to win the championship at Monza - but we can lose it there,” says the Scot. “With only four races making up the championship, it’s critical we bag a high score.”

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Coverage from Monza will begin here either late on Thursday or on Friday morning.

 

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