Italian GT Championship – Monza - Saturday
It has been a day full of surprises at the second round of the Italian
GT series at Monza (which hosts lots of sportscar and GT races in
this first part of the year…).
22 cars will race tomorrow,
no withdrawals. First surprise the weather: it was predicted for
rain all day long… but not a drop of rain, but plenty of wind
and strong sun throughout the afternoon.
first two half hour free practices resulted in a “stay on
track” situation, thanks to last night’s rain and the
usually slippery morning Monza tarmac. All the times were well over
two minutes, apart from Luca Drudi who enjoys slippery conditions…
but at the Ascari the engine of the 360 GTC ‘went down’,
and with no spare V8, but a whole 360 Modena available, that’s
what he’ll race. Another well known international racer was
in trouble: Arturo Merzario, because his co-driver put the pair's
Maserati into the gravel twice.
and did the Lister fly! At Monza? Yes Lancellotti clocked 1’48.557.
Baso in the Viper was second 1’50.310, Casè third 1’51.263.
The other surprise was a Ferrari in front of Porsches (RSR)? Yes
the first three are very close - Chiesa (360 GTC) 1’52.525,
Francesconi (360) 1’52.546 and Riccitelli (RSR) 1’52.748.
and things turned to be more routine…Guagliardo (JMB 550 -
above) 1’49.562 (with a completely dry track and good conditions),
Zonca (Lister) 1’50.128, Perazzini Viper (current champion
- below) 1’50.899.
Now the interesting
part: pretty much all the GT cars probably can’t make the
one hour time of the race, and in the briefing they asked to reduce
it to 50 or 55 minutes …we’ll see.
Stefano Zonca and Angelo
Lancellotti, the Italians in the Lister, had a day at Mugello two
weeks ago, sharing the track with the Barron Connor 550 (Thomas
Biagi). Result? Lancellotti lowered last year’s Viper pole
by a massive four seconds! And left Biagi two seconds away from
his best time… here in Italy the Lister uses Pirelli tyres.
Spanish Corvette (left) was sounding very good but was very slow:
I spoke with one of the team members and he told me it is derived
from a road version, converted to GT2 configuration. And the chassis
is from 1999 season…
weather could do everything (sun, rain, wind, snow…) everything
could happen, to finish and win you have to go very slow, to save
fuel (is that not a nonsense in a racing car?). Last year we had
dramas, a puncture on the last lap, a suspension failure on the
same lap. Will the 2004 race be as exciting?
Drudi: “We broke the engine, thankfully we have another
car and entered it, but it is a 360 with an engine too much down
in power (20 km down to a Porsche in straight). We’ll try
everything but at Monza without power you can brake as late as you
can but nothing changes…I hope we will have pouring rain tomorrow!”
Chiesa (right): “We are very happy for the pole in
the first qualifying, we guess the set-up, and it worked. The free
practice didn’t help us, we ran too little in order to make
a big step, but we are very surprised at how the N-GT field is so
Angelo Lancellotti: “We lost the free practice,
a little problem with brakes and the clutch, but apart from this
we are very happy, the Lister has huge potential to develop, plenty
plenty more to come in the season… We are very marginal on
fuel, we have to find a solution! I have to say, saving fuel and
braking at 200m instead of 90-100m is not racing car action but…”
Luca Riccitelli (below): “We are absolutely
not satisfied: in both qualifying sessions we did the same time
as last year, and we planned to improve by at least one and half
seconds: we have problems in set-up I did a good time but with miracles,
we have no time to test and try solutions. I’m not very optimistic
for tomorrow, I hope it will rain.”
One car in trouble
was this Viper: into the gravel first of all, then into the barrier
at the second Lesmo.