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.

dailysportscar.comThe 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.

First qualifying 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.

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Second qualifying 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.

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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.

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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.

dailysportscar.comThe 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…

Tomorrow the 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?

Luca 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!”

dailysportscar.comAndrea 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 tight.”

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.”

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One car in trouble was this Viper: into the gravel first of all, then into the barrier at the second Lesmo.
Gabriele Tosi

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