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Monza Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s paddock notebook from scrutineering day at Monza…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***SRO Motorsports Group made full use of the long pit straight at Monza to assemble a group photograph of the cars competing in this weekend’s GTWC, GT2 and GT4 races. The shot also included two simulator rigs from SRO series title sponsor Fanatec.

***Friday’s only track action for Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS was a 60-minute Bronze driver test in the evening. Lorenzo Bontempelli topped the charts with a time of 1:48.513 in the No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.

***Most of the GTWC Europe track activity took place virtually on Assetto Corsa Competitizone, as drivers nominated for Saturday’s Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series filed some practice laps on a drop-in basis. The Fanatec Arena has turned plenty of heads in the center of the paddock with its fleet of state-of-the-art sim rigs.

***Three teams have introduced replacement cars following accidents in private testing on Thursday.

***Kessel Racing has fixed up a new Ferrari for its Pro-Am entry after the original was heavily damaged in an accident, while Haupt Racing Team received a new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo this morning to replace its damaged No. 5 Silver Cup chassis.

***Another testing casualty was the Rinaldi Racing Silver Cup Ferrari. Team principal Michele Rinaldi told Sportscar365: “We can take another car as it was not an official test, so it was no problem to change the car. So we will fix this with the engine and gearbox and run with this car.” Kessel and HRT’s car changes also went without sanction.

***A blown engine at the start of paid testing resulted in Team WRT swapping in a new power unit for its No. 30 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo. The Silver Cup machine underwent a ‘hardship lap’ early this afternoon, following scrutineering checks.

***A key regulatory change for the 2021 Endurance Cup concerns pit stops, notably a minimum refueling time of 40 seconds for all cars at the two ‘mandatory’ full-board services. Tire changes will take place during refueling, whereas last season they were carried out separately. Separate refueling and tire changes have been banned in an attempt to curb spending on resources designed to speed up tire changes.

***A car will receive a stop-go penalty at the first instance of undercutting the ‘mandatory’ pit stop minimum refueling time. The second offense will be met with a 30-second stop and hold penalty.

***Walkenhorst Motorsport only received its container full of GTWC Europe equipment back from the UAE-based Asian Le Mans Series on Monday, following delays caused by the Suez Canal cargo ship blockage. The team is using its old Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli setup from last season for its return to the Endurance Cup Pro class with two BMW M6 GT3s.

***Describing the shipping delays, team manager Niclas Koenigbauer told Sportscar365: “Our ship was not in the Suez Canal. But the problem was that so many ships were blocked so the harbors were completely full. It took much longer to get the containers off the ship. At the end, we had a few weeks of delays. But it worked out, so all good.”

***There is a connection between GTWC Europe debutant Jack Aitken and the race engineer of his Emil Frey Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo. Both Aitken and Mario Cambiaghi were at Campos Racing in FIA Formula 2 last year. Cambiaghi worked on the car driven by Aitken’s former teammate Guilherme Samaia.

***Aitken explained the background: “It wasn’t until the second test that the team realized we were both from Campos! He’s the race engineer on our car now. That wasn’t the case at the first test, but they’ve now made that connection. He’s also new to GTs so we’re all learning together as a team.”

***Hella Pagid-Racing One has stepped in to operate the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 that was originally due to be run by R-Motorsport in the GT4 European Series, before the Swiss team postponed all of its race programs to 2022.

***Anders Fjordbach claimed the first-ever Fanatec GT2 European Series pole with a time of 1:50.153 aboard High Class Racing’s Audi R8 LMS GT2. Pole for race two went to Patrick Zamparini in an SVC Sport Management Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo GT2. This came after post-session penalties for the top two cars in the times. Results here and here.

***Lamborghini is set to present a second evolution version of its Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo EVO “very soon”, according to the manufacturer’s Head of Motorsport Giorgio Sanna. “As usual, it will be possible to upgrade the existing cars with a dedicated kit,” he told Sportscar365.

*** Saturday’s Endurance Cup track action begins with Free Practice at 9 a.m. local time (3 a.m. EST). This 90-minute session will then be followed by a Pre-Qualifying practice of equal length starting at 2:05 p.m. (8:05 a.m. EST).

***Saturday will mark the 10-year anniversary of the first Endurance Cup race, which was also held at Monza. Gilles Vannelet and Louis Machiels are the only two drivers from that inaugural 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series round competing in the 2021 opener.

***More of the drivers from the Monza race a decade ago are now in team management positions, such as Pierre-Brice Mena (GPX Martini Racing), Bas Leinders (Optimum Motorsport), Lorenz Frey-Hilti (Emil Frey Racing) and Jerome Policand (AKKA-ASP).

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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