Round two of the Sports Car Open took the championship to Italy and the historic Autodromo Nationale Monza.
The Tifosi would be happy to see the veritable cornucopia of cars sporting the prancing horse in the GT and GTC classes, and through the free practice sessions, the Ferrari still clearly had the upper hand in the GT field. Whilst the gulf between the Ferraris and Fords was less marked at Monza, the 488 GTE did seem to remain the more competitive car. Another concern for the Ford GT driving Legends was that the GT3 class were even more difficult to pass than they had been in the season opener, their formidable straight line speed – particularly in the draft- necessitating late passes under braking or “cooperative capitulation” by the GT3s.
Once the dust had settled from qualifying (and there was a lot of dust!), the Legends sat 26th overall and 11th in class. Darren’s qualifying time made Legends Racing the 2nd placed Ford GT, with only Team Chimera’s Joshua Chin qualifying higher. Starting 11th, a points finish was definitely on the table for the team, and very much the main target for the race. Progress up the field would be difficult though as the Ferrari’s were dominant again with the GTE spec 488’s all but monopolizing the first 5 rows of the GT class.
The start of the race was clean, the Variante del Retifilio can often see incidents in the early laps, but all three classes avoided crippling their races at the first corner. NOMAD Racing were an early casualty on lap three, losing control through the Variante Ascari, the damage from the ensuing contact leading to the first retirement of the race. Ascari claimed another victim in the first quarter, Joshua Chin of Team Chimera spinning and getting hit by one of the following cars – the 12 minutes of required repairs ending their podium charge, though they would finish the race.
The Legends #56 machine held a narrow advantage over Racing Lions in the early laps, and through much of the first hour the Dutch outfit were within touching distance, the gap ebbing and flowing as the HPD traffic lapped them. The battle with the Lions Ford was cut short though, when they were involved in an incident with one of the protoypes.
Approaching the end of the first hour, the Legends sat 9th, having moved up two places from the start. The team gained a further two places through the first round of pit stops, double stinting the tyres to reduce the time the car was stationary. Darren’s second stint passed largely without incident with him running steady laps, the only scare being a near miss with a GTC class car. The recently lapped Mercedes missed their braking point and only avoided collecting the Legends Ford through a timely evasive manoeuvre by Darren.
At the half way point, Adam entered the car, exiting the pit lane in 6th, but the place gain would only be temporary as Scuderia Lento’s Joonas O Vastamäki overtook on lap 70. For the Legends to remain on a three stop strategy required a fair degree of fuel saving, and fighting the cars on different strategies was only going to hurt the overall result. The strategy meant that pace suffered, but saving time through double stinting the tyres and avoiding the additional stop meant that moving back into 6th place was a realistic possibility. Ultimately, the pace of Vastamäki in the Scuderia Lento Ferrari was such that when he reemerged from their final stop, they were ahead and with fresher tyres and more fuel, barring a mistake the positions were settled. The three stop strategy had paid dividends though, with Legends Racing finishing comfortably ahead of SRN Motorsports, Racing Lions, and Revolution Simracing who rounded out the points scoring positions.
Finishing 20th overall and 7th in class was a really pleasing result for the team, after the disappointment of missing a points finish at the Nurburgring by the narrowest of margins. Finishing well inside the points at Monza was a source of some celebration, and the duo of Seal and Parle felt they had extracted the most out of the car, the setup, and the race strategy.
The solid result will move Legends Racing up the championship standings, and leave the team looking forwards to the 4 hours of Spa-Francorchamps, which is the next race in the championship on 3rd December. Once again, coverage of the event will be provided by Racespot TV and iRacing Live. Spa is a popular venue for racers and racing fans alike, and we look forwards to seeing you there!