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LMES – Monza – Saturday Morning Qualifying Report
That Man Johansson Again

A session that began ‘quietly’ ended with Stefan Johansson setting provisional pole in the Zytek Engineering Zytek, nearly a second faster than everyone else. And Nicolas Minassian was second quickest, having had to change down a gear on one of the straights on his best lap in the Creation DBA. The Audis were third, fourth and fifth fastest… because of, what? Not being able to use qualifiers? Andrew Cotton saw all three being driven very hard, Rinaldo Capello in particular using plenty of kerb.

The Belmondo Courage was fastest in LMP2, Vitaphone and Freisinger in the GT classes, and the Nasamax was comfortably the fastest car on the straights – this a 2004 spec. car of course. It is very stable though, and changing the rake doesn’t apparently make it unstable (in a soft rear springs, less drag kind of 2003-regs cars way).

There was a hint of dampness as the session started at 11.15, but it was a hint of oil that meant that significant times were by and large not set, until after a red flag appeared to clear away the Italian Viper. This entry had a fairly big moment after snapping left into the Roggia, and although the chassis looks to be OK, there was radiator damage. With the Taurus Lola Judd still awaiting gearbox parts, we were also missing the Spinnaker Dallara. Have two of the the drivers packed up and gone home? Not sure yet. Ah, no spare gearbox, car withdrawn.

Two cars that did go quickly early on were the Belmondo Courage and the faster Seikel Porsche, both close to, or quicker than, their best Friday morning times. Then the oil appeared.

dailysportscar.comThe Taurus Lola Caterpillar didn’t run after an opening stint from Phil Andrews (just a couple of timed laps), and a nevertheless cheerful Calum Lockie still hasn’t got in this car at Monza. “I don’t think we’ll be out in the second session,” said the Scot, “but the guys are working on it like crazy.”

The Belmondo crew were removing damaged parts from the back of the C65, after an incident with one of the Ferrari 575s, and with the oil down, it was almost as if we had a red flag, as almost everyone pitted after 15 minutes – the Zytek fastest at this point, with a 1:43.5.

Once the 51 Viper had been removed, it was effectively a 20 minute session – and great fun it was too.

The Goh Audi and the Creation DBA were the first two under 1:40, the Frenchman – Minassian – quickest. Traffic was a problem, the DBA setting a better lap, a 1:39.542, “but I had to brake on the straight and change down a gear on that lap. I’m sure we could have managed the pole. OK, everyone had traffic, but there is a hell of a lot left in the car.”

Stefan Johansson was inclined to feel the same way about the Zytek. “It’s so good, I didn’t feel as though I should have been quickest” – his provisional pole a 1:38.617. “If we can keep this going for at least one more day it will be nice.”

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What might Brabham have achieved – or Wallace? The latter had a good night’s sleep last night, and will go out this afternoon.

The straightline speeds were interesting:
Zytek 302 (sorry, that should read 310, DBA at 302)
Audis 310
Pescarolo 310
Nasamax 318.

John McNeil was rightly pleased with what the green and black eco-fuelled car has achieved so far, “but if we added together the best segments we would have done a 1:39.8. It’s the same for everyone – traffic. But we’re disappointed with the time, but happy with our straight line speed.” Werner Lupberger actually set a 1:42.721.

The Audis were third, fourth and fifth.

Sixth was the Advan Dome, then the Rollcentre Dallara and the Pescarolo. Rob Barff set the time in the Dallara, but without times on the dash, “he thought he was running at about 1:43,” said Martin Short. “There’s a lot more to come.” Barbosa only got in one lap at the end, delayed by.. traffic, of course.

The Jota and RML cars were just outside the top ten, one getting down to it on a dry track for the first time, the other yet to show its form.

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GTS saw the Vitaphone Saleen fastest again, a 1:47.307, while the repaired Freisinger Porsche was best of the GTs, less than a tenth quicker than Caffi in the 83 Seikel RS. Have we even added the Italian to the entry list yet? Maassen and Jones were only half a second slower in the Cirtek RSR, just ahead of JMB’s 360 and Perspective’s Vic Lee-run 911 R.

Peter Kox was confident of more time to come in the former EMKA car, but had been happy to see Nigel Smith running round at the end of the session. Ian Khan will start the afternoon session, then Kox will see “how near to the front we can get. We’re still learning the car: the races at Donington last month in the changing weather didn’t help us to learn much about the car, it was just a matter of going as fast as possible with what we had.”

The Chamberlain-Synergy TVR was next up, an impressive 1:55.688, from Michael Caine.

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The GNM Saleen was 20th fastest, Ettore Bonaldi setting the time, Graham Nash comfortable with the pace of the car, and “no problems apart from a slight flat spot.” But the Vitaphone car was 3.7 seconds quicker, and a second and more clear of the three Ferraris (Larbre the best of them) and then Force One Viper another second back. Who's this having fun in 61?

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This was great fun – and not a complete surprise to see the front row occupied by non-Audis. How will the DBA / Zyteks go at the ‘Ring?

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A little later, just before the afternoon session, we add the following....

Audi Sport UK's David Ingram explains that "we've got some softer tyres to try this afternoon. We were really put off our plan by the oil and the red flag. There's more to come, and the drivers suffered with traffic, as i think everyone did. But in a way it's a good thing that we (the Audis as a group) are not fastest all the time."

Dindo Capello: "We had a massive understeer proble yesterday and this morning. I wasn't very lucky because i went out just after the oil went down, and then after the session started again. We tried a hard compound of tyre, and the car was very difficut to drive."

Werner Lupberger: "It's one of the most repsonsive cars I've ever driven. We make a change and we go faster, smple as that. I love driving the Nasamax, the paddle shift is excellent and you can really throw it arond." Michael Cotton confirms that the South African was doing just that.

Franz Konrad: "With the smaller wing and the other changes, the car is still very good. Pirelli has given us some excellent tyres and we are looking to win again here."

 

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