Formula X Championship – Monza

Race 1 – Yamazaki Wins The First One
Sixteen drivers entered the first round of the 2004 Formula X Sport Series – supporting the LMES at Monza. Most of the drivers had already tested the cars at one of the test sessions at Paul Ricard or Spa, but for some of them it was a discovery of both car and track. All drivers finished the free practice sessions without incidents, bar a few technical gremlins, which were quickly solved by the Formula X technical team. Manuele Gatto from Italy was quickest in both free practice sessions (1:58.825, average speed: 175.515kph). Reigning Japanese GC-21 Champion, Shinsuke Yamazaki, was second fastest, just 38/1000th of a second behind.

For the first qualifying session, which defined the starting grid Saturday’s first race, the drivers had to deal with pouring rain as well as still coming to grips with their cars and the track. Proving the talent they all have, none of them went off, although some had an engine cooling problem related to the extreme weather conditions. Yamazaki was quickest (2:13.321) ahead of Benjamin Poron (2:14.495) and Manuele Gatto (2:15.893). Vanina Ickx proved to have the same “Rainmeister” genes as her legendary father, Jacky Ickx, and posted the fourth quickest time (2:16.321).

Qualifying Times Round 1
1. Yamazaki (J) 2m13s321;
2. Poron (F) 2m14s4995
3. Gatto (I) 2m15s893
4. Ickx (B) 2m16s321
5. Casoni (I) 2m17s048
6. Gerbi (F) 2m18s158
7. Hubert (A) 2m19s109
8. Ballabio (MC) 2m20s497
9. Sommereau (F) 2m26s189
10. Pappolla (F) 2m27s148
11. Mallat (USA) 2m27s801
12. Nichizawa (J) 2m30s867
13. Panzaviota (I) 2m31s996
14. Blaton (B) 2m38s383
15. Lemeret (B) No time
16. Khan (GB) No time

Fortunately the weather turned bright and sunny for the start of the first 18-lap race. Yamazaki made a perfect start and never looked back, while Vanina Ickx came through third at the first chicane. Japanese driver Kasuyuki Nishizawa, who had started from 12th place, tried to make up some ground at the second chicane, but his manoeuvre proved to be a bit too optimistic and he took himself, Fulvio Ballabio and Enea Casoni off. While Casoni managed to recover to fourth at the finish, the race was over for Ballabio and Nishizawa.

While Yamazaki disappeared in the distance, Benjamin Poron and Ickx had a long battle for second. Vanina Ickx: “I had a very good start and managed to tuck in behind Poron, while at the same time I kept an eye on Gatto right behind me. When Gatto disappeared I could concentrate on Poron, but while being faster in some of the technical parts, I couldn’t pass him on the straights.”

Poron held off Ickx until the finish and was more than happy with the result: “This morning, when the engine blew in qualifying, I didn’t even think I would make the start. But the Formula X mechanics did a fantastic job and got the car ready just in time. It didn’t feel the same as it did in practice and qualifying, but, finishing second after nearly not making it, I won’t complain.”

dailysportscar.comRace winner Shinsuke Yamazaki was very pleased with his first win in the Formula X Sport series. “I’m very happy to have won. I went off this morning, but the mechanics did a great job getting the car back in shape. I made a clean start and once I saw I had a bit of a lead I could control it. The Dunlop tyres were very consistent throughout the 18 laps, with just a hint of understeer in the middle of the race. Needless to say I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Series organiser Claude Chantala was naturally a happy man afterwards. “I would like to thank all those who have helped us these last months in turning Formula X from an idea into reality, especially the investors who visited us today. Apart from a few gremlins, which are typical for any new series, we have had an excellent start to the season and I look forward to the rest of the year, when more cars and drivers are expected to join.”

Result Round 1
1. Shinsuke Yamazaki (J) 18 laps in 35m53s173 (Average speed: 174.341kph)
2. Benjamin Poron (F) + 0m22s224
3. Vanina Ickx (B) + 0m33s499
4. Enea Casoni (I) + 0m36s467
5. Dieter Huber (A) + 1m09s901
6. Marco Panzavuota (I) + 1m11s142
7. Jean-Michel Pappolla (F) + 1m45s734
8. Jean-Yves Mallat (USA) + 1 lap
9. Didier Sommereau (F) + 1 lap
10. Julien Gerbi (F) + 5 laps
DNF Kasuyuki Nishizawa (J) Accident damage
DNF Manuele Gatto (I) Engine misfire
DNF Fulvio Ballabio (I) Accident damage
DNS Stéphane Lemeret (B) Accident in qualifying
DNS Marc Blaton (B) Gearbox
DNS Ian Khan (GB) Engine

Race 2 – Poron From Ickx & Gerbi

Round 2 of the new Formula X Sport Series saw Benjamin Poron confirm the promise he showed in Race 1. The young Frenchman, who finished second in yesterday’s race after a late engine change, won the second race after early leader Shinsuke Yamazaki’s car developed an engine problem, while Vanina Ickx proved her talent yet again by clinching second place.

Yamazaki qualified on pole for race two, just as he had done for Race 1. Sharing the first row on the grid was Italian Manuele Gatto, with fellow countryman Enea Casoni and Vanina Ickx on row two. Belgian Stéphane Lemeret, last year’s European Clio Cup vice-champion, had a big off when he found himself without brakes entering the daunting Parabolica corner, but the Van Diemen-built car proved its strength and Lemeret walked away from the wreck.

Qualifying times Round 2
1. Yamazaki (J) 2m00s032
2. Gatto (I) 2m00s243
3. Casoni (I) 2m02s232
4. Ickx (B) 2m03s384
5. Gerbi (F) 2m04s186
6. Huber (A) 2m04s737
7. Ballabio (MC) 2m04s985
8. Poron (F) 2m05s944
9. Pappolla (F) 2m06s017
10. Lemeret (B) 2m06s648
11. Mallat (USA) 2m07s720
12. Blaton (B) 2m08s287
13 Sommereau (F) 2m16s182
14. Nichizawa (J) 2m18s347
15. Panzavuota (I) No time
16. Khan (GB) No time

At the start of the 18-lap race, Yamazaki made his usual early getaway, while Ickx and Gatto followed closely behind.

Kasuyuki Nishizawa, who had started last after an engine problem in qualifying, tried yet another first lap, second chicane manoeuvre which could best be described as “brave but not bright”. The net result was three cars off the track, those behind scrambling to avoid the incident and those in front having an easier life in the lead.

Just before the halfway mark of the race Yamazaki’s engine developed a problem and his lead started to disappear. Poron (above) passed him without too much trouble, and three laps later Ickx did the same. Frenchman Julien Gerbi followed suit and clinched the last podium spot, while Austrian driver Dieter Huber finished fourth. Yamazaki still managed to hold on to fifth at the finish, enough to give him second place in the championship standings. Benjamin Poron leads by seven points, while Vanina Ickx is third, one point behind Yamazaki.

dailysportscar.comFormula X President Quirin Bovy: “It’s a pity so many competitors had engine troubles, but we have detected what it is and I can guarantee that they will be solved by the next race in Germany. Other than that, I think we have shown that Formula X Sport is a very competitive formula. The cars are very fast and the drivers are all talented, as I could see for myself when they went three abreast through the Parabolica without incidents. The fastest lap time in the race (Gatto in 1:58.935, just 15/1000th quicker than Poron) would have been enough for a Formula X Sport car to qualify for the LMES 1000kms of Monza! I think we have proved this weekend that Formula X has a bright future, and would like to invite any sceptics to come and watch us race at the Nürburgring in July.”

Result Round 2
1. Benjamin Poron (F) 18 laps in 35m59s670 (Average speed: 173.816kph)
2. Vanina Ickx (B) + 0m07s022
3. Julien Gerbi (F) + 0m33s728
4. Dieter Huber (A) + 1m02s333
5. Shinsuke Yamazaki (J) + 1m06s157
6. Jean-Yves Mallat (USA) + 1m32s727
7. Didier Sommereau (F) + 5 laps
8. Fulvio Ballabio (MC) + 9 laps
DNF Kasuyuki Nishizawa (J) Accident damage
DNF Manuele Gatto (I) Accident damage
DNF Enea Casoni (I) Accident damage
DNF Jean-Michel Pappolla (F) Engine misfire
DNF Marco Panzavuota (I) Engine misfire
DNF Fulvio Ballabio (I) Accident damage
DNS Stéphane Lemeret (B) Accident in qualifying
DNS Marc Blaton (B) Gearbox
DNS Ian Khan (GB) Engine.


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