The 3.600 mi 11 turn circuit that is the Autodromo Nazionale Monza was the venue for the second round of the Sports Car Open 2018-19 Season. With the low aerodynamic profile needed to succeed comes low downforce, low grip, and more prevalent understeer … and a liberal sprinkling of opposite lock through the multiple chicanes. Generations of racers will attest to Monza being easy to learn but tricky to master.
Overall pole posisition was Tomasso Carla of the #3 Thrustmaster Mivano outfit, the Prototype Challenge pole was CoRe SimRacing’s Santeri Kallunki with a 1:37.940. Qualifying in the PC field was very tight, Darren Seal placing 10th in the #37 Legends Racing White HPD with a laptime of 1:38.434, and Nick Rowland gridded the #36 sister car 13th with a lap of 1:38.919.
Darren Seal made way for Darrell Taylor in the #37, with Nick Rowland starting the race in the #36. The two Legends entries swapped places on lap 1, both falling into a train of HPDs in a clean start to the race. There was a sharp intake of breath on the third lap as chaos erupted in the Ascari chicane, but fortunately both Legends machines made it through unscathed.
In the Prototype field there was some misfortune suffered by the leading cars, the Thrustmaster Mivano LMP1 entry collided with the SRN HPD (who received a hefty stop and hold penalty as the fault was deemed to be theirs), and indeed bother Mivano LMP1 entries retired relatively early on. The VRS Coanda Simsport outfit fell foul of the anti-cut curbs, the required repairs causing them to fall out of contention though they would rejoin the race multiple laps down.
The Legends Racing #36 had a relatively processional race thereafter – traffic related complications not withstanding. The trio of drivers managing fuel use to go a lap further than the majority of the field in 6 of the 7 stints, paying dividends with places gained and no compromises needing to be taken as the end of the race came into sharp focus.
The Thrustmaster Mivano HPD wasn’t able to eke out enough laps from their fuel load, and had to pit with just two remaining. The InSim entry were in similar difficulty, their engine coughing and spluttering as they exited the Parabolica for the last time.
With Paul Searle behind the wheel, the Legends #36 had caught up significantly in the closing laps of the race, but ultimately missed out on 6th place by a couple of car lengths, the InSim HPD all but rolling to a standstill as they crossed the finishing line.
The #37 Legends Racing White entry had another day to forget unfortunately – dogged by damage for much of the race. Darren Seal was able to demonstrate good pace, before an uncharacteristic mistake cost them further time in the final third of the race. Ultimately the #37 car finished in the position the #36 started -13th. Although points were scored – something that wasn’t possible in the season opener – it was not the result the team wanted. The trio in the #37 will need to regroup before the next round to move out of 14th place in the championship.
Whilst the #36 had a solid result, leaving them placed 4th in the championship, lessons were learnt again. The strategy limited opportunities for progressing further up the field, though the six place gain from their qualifying position underlines that consistency is king when endurance racing is concerned.
At the head of the Prototype Challenge a three horse race has emerged – AVA Vervatic #39, CoRe SimRacing PC #44 and the NoName #40 all looking strong. With 8 points covering positions 4-10 the midfield battle is wide open.
The third round of the championship takes place on 2nd December. The Nurburgring GP circuit is a very different beast to Monza, and should make for another very interesting event. Coverage of the event again provided by Racespot TV.
We’ll see you there.