– Monza – Round Up
Intensity And Reliability
It was a very
good beginning, wasn’t it? For that we need to appreciate
that Sam Li was happy for his ‘old boys’ to go at it
hammer and tongs for five hours – or more precisely for Allan
McNish (229 minutes) and Johnny Herbert (226 minutes) to be unleashed
for so long.
In Europe at
least, we have never had the pleasure of seeing such an inter-Audi
confrontation before. The way these guys handle traffic is utterly
ruthless, but that’s the way it is and the way they are. It
was a five hour sprint, simple as that.
McNish have tried to take the lead on the last lap, had he been
close enough? Certainly he would. Did Johnny Herbert time it to
perfection, to keep McNish those few tenths back? Most definitely.
The changing conditions had both men eager to find out the times
of the other (over the radio): this was endurance sprinting at its
At Zytek Engineering,
it was a case of what might have been. All three drivers showed
the potential of the 04S, Andy Wallace expressing his regret that
he can’t race this car in the LMES again, thanks to other
racing commitments. It’s not yet clear whether Johansson joins
Wallace and Brabham at Le Mans, but if he does, and with any straight
line speed issue resolved now, this car will be right in contention
everywhere, and will be a good bet for pole, wherever it races this
year – but especially at the Nurburgring, Silverstone and
Spa. If only they’d strengthened that master cylinder bracket.
put on a stunning display too, but suffered their niggles, the wishbone
breakage almost certainly caused by lap one contact – with
the Advan Dome, which suffered a front suspension failure much earlier
in the event.
Other than the
above, the LMP1s were amazingly reliable, the only other problem
being the Jota Zytek jamming in reverse, after a spin. We didn’t
get to see Sam Hignett show this car’s pace, but it will be
a contender. Jota climbed its mountain in the week before the event.
/ Rollcentre race – for best of the non-Audis – was
a race long affair. Martin Short was a little disappointed afterwards,
but look what his young (prototype) team has achieved already this
year: two fifth places, in two very tough endurance races. John
McNeil was bristling with pride at the performance of the Nasamax
(“A blow out and a spin into the gravel, that’s all
we had throughout the race”), while Ray Mallock was quietly
pleased with the RML Lola’s run, getting it home trouble-free,
apart from a slight reluctance to fire up at a late pit stop.
There have to
be disappointments, and two of them were at Taurus Sports. Mid Saturday
evening and contradicting messages arrived at the press room, regarding
the likelihood of the Judd-powered car starting. The first said
it would but the second, unfortunately correct, said it wouldn’t.
“There was just too much gearbox damage after the failure
in second qualifying,” commented Ian Dawson on Sunday morning.
And then the
diesel didn’t start either. It wouldn’t fire up on the
grid, and when it did (in the garage?), it leaked oil, and the wise
decision was taken not to start. Testing resumes this week, and
Taurus badly needs some private time, away from the glare of interested
observers. It’s been a difficult birth, but there is a brief
pause now, before everyone assembles at Le Mans.
Dallara? Well, even with Gabriele Rafanelli’s mechanics, the
lack of a spare gearbox was insurmountable, and all we heard (second
hand) from Beppe Gabbiani was of frustrations mounting.
Three of the
LMP2s met the expected mechanical ailments, while poor Bill Binnie
was smashed out of the race by the Autorlando Porsche. The images
are those of Hansgerd Bramann – in the right place
at the right time. Binnie was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Jon Field at least started to show the potential of the B2K / 40
Judd in Qualifying, but it’s been a frustrating three ‘events’
for Intersport so far.
would have taken the class, but for an engine ailment with the Tampolli:
it’s an interesting entry, but a genuine class winner? Someone
will win the ‘Ring LMP2 race with a quick, steady, trouble-free
run, and that should be with a Judd-powered car, shouldn’t
to devote sufficient human resources to the GT classes at Monza
(with the bulk of the dsc crew at Mondello Park), but let’s
try to make up for that now.
a lot of work to do before Le Mans and we will do it,” commented
John Bosch, of his Barron-Connor Ferraris. Huge strides have been
made since the difficult Sebring debut (equipment stranded at sea),
and early on both cars were almost in touch with the two leaders.
Can you imagine a tougher pair than Alzen and Bouchut though? Lap
after lap they circulated together, and only earlier pit stops for
the Saleen split them up – although typically the cars were
still together (Lamy and Bartels driving – but a lap apart)
when the stops were out of synchronisation. What a shame that the
Saleen’s diff. failed. Zacchia against Konrad himself might
have seen the scrap go all the way to the flag.
The Vipers were
just plain disappointing, the Force One car not running on ten in
either second qualifying or the race.
The best GT
tale was that of Manfred Freisinger’s team. The baby alternator
– very small, very light – failed on the Cirtek RSR,
so that a similar failure on the class leader was spotted much more
quickly, and fixed in time to have this car out in time to catch
the JMB and Choroq entries. In many respects it was the same kind
of GT race as the November 1000 kms: open and interesting. The Japanese
Porsche slip-slided out of contention in the rain, and Ortelli and
Dumas were too good for JMB, who had suffered a couple of slow stops
with a difficult wheel nut.
like crazy to come back,” said Ortelli. “It was the
biggest fight. It was really good training for Le Mans. It was my
closest race since last October, where we won here (in FIA GTs)
with Dunlop too.”
The Racers Group
and Sebah weren’t in the same race as the top three, but nevertheless
managed fine finishes in fourth and fifth, Piers Masarati, and Bart
and Hugh Hayden just thrilled with fifth, first (and only one) of
the non-RSRs home, apart from the delayed Seikel car.
believe we got fifth,” said Masarati. “No way did we
think we’d get a top six in this level of competition. I was
maybe a little bit more careful in the wet than I could have been,
but I really didn’t want to damage Hugh’s car.”
“I’m very pleased, the whole team gelled very well.”
Hugh had some of the former EMKA crew with him, and we know what
they’ve achieved over the years.
Sixth and seventh
for Cirtek wasn’t what Rob Schirle would have wished for,
having seen his entry take the class at Le Mans last November, but
Frank Mountain enjoyed himself, apart from a spin at the Lesmos
in the wet.
team had a more disappointing day, the potentially class-winning
Riccitelli / Caffi / Rosa car running at the front but then suffering
a broken gearbox. The sister car got involved with the early exit
of the T2M Porsche, Wolfgang Kaufmann having a wheel break, after
suffering with a lack of straight line speed.
/ Peninsula / DeWalt team had had the same problem (on Friday and
Saturday), but by race day, the yellow and black TVR was on the
pace of the purple Chamberlain-Synergy one. Michael Caine was extremely
positive about the prospects for the Chamberlain-developed TVR,
content that he could have set a high 1:54 in qualifying, but for
the fact that he had to move out of the way to allow an Audi to
go through. While this T400R needed a replacement clutch slave cylinder,
and then stopped with engine troubles, the narrower, more original
T400R kept on running – but suffered from an unusual oil problem.
A stone through
the oil radiator (which was replaced) saw all three drivers suffering
from a mist of oil being blown onto the screen at speed, and it
was only before the rain came that the oil had finally all been
blown away. Multiple pit stops were made to try and clear away the
oily residue, but it was stuck between the water and oil radiators,
and was a complete menace to remove. But Hartshorne / Stanton /
Mundy did get to the finish of the team’s first international
The GNM Saleen
was still running too, but also made repeated pit stops, and was
in clutch bothers towards the end: it was lurching along as the
driver tried to fire it up on the starter, in gear – and deserved
a classified finish (which it failed to get by a lap or two).
isn’t all about the guys at the very front of the race –
but to a large degree, this one was. But in track manners (perhaps)
and in the schedule for the event (definitely) attention does need
to be drawn to those who may be less familiar with the track.
“I’m pushing for two one and a half hour sessions on
Friday, with maybe 45 minutes on Saturday morning, and then two
short qualifying sessions to set the grid time. Gentlemen drivers
don’t want to be learning the track still on Saturday, with
the prototypes setting their qualifying times.”
wait and see if an ALMS-type Friday / Saturday format is introduced
at the Nurburgring.
An overall view
of the first LMES race? This, we at dsc believe, is the start of
something significant. As Scott Atherton pointed out on Saturday,
a strong European series will be good for prototype racing on both
sides of the Atlantic, while the GT classes did on the whole support
the 1000 km race format, and added much to the flavour of this one
– even if it was dominated by the pros at the front. In its
way, it was a fantastic race, and a fine start to the LMES.