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Monza Pre-Race Notebook

Vincent Wouters’ pre race Blancpain GT notebook from Monza…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***The No. 2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS and No. 66 Attempto Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 will not take part in the race following their collision in qualifying this morning. Both cars sustained chassis damage. The stewards gave Luca Filippi two Behavior Warning Points (BWP) and a ten-place grid drop for the next race for causing the collision. 

***Two Mercedes-AMG GT3s will receive factory backing in the regular Endurance Cup rounds. Both the No. 4 Black Falcon entry of Adam Christodoulou, Yelmer Buurman and Luca Stolz and the No. 84 HTP Motorsport entry of Maxi Buhk, Franck Perera and Jimmy Eriksson are running under the “Mercedes-AMG Team” banner this season.

***All Pro cars are allowed to use five new sets of tires this weekend, instead of just four plus two used sets from Misano. The decision was taken on the grounds of safety and sporting equality. “Due to the Misano track layout, curbing and running conditions, the tires used by the teams during the Sprint Cup opener were exposed to a high level of mechanical stress,” read an SRO sporting note.

***In an effort to conserve as many fresh sets of tires as possible for the race, teams have been using just one or two sets of Pirelli tires during the practice sessions. In some cases teams covered more than 300km on a single set of tires, with an average race stint being around half that mileage.  

***Gulf 12 Hours promotor Andrea Ficarelli is present in the Blancpain GT paddock at Monza this weekend. The Italian is confident about the next edition of the 12 Hours race in Abu Dhabi, which is open to GT3, GTX and LMP3 cars. The latter class will no longer have to stop more often.

***Ficarelli also confirmed he is still planning to organize a 500-mile race at Monza in March of next year. Teams will also be able to only participate in the two days of tests before the race.

***The minimum pitstop time for Monza has effectively been set at 90 seconds (from pit in to pit out), although SRO uses a 25-second time range where the total length of a pit stop may not fall within. With the range set from 65 to 90 seconds, cars are still allowed to make a pitstop under 65 seconds under certain circumstances.

***Several teams are pulling a double duty between Monza and the qualifying race for the Nürburgring 24. Black Falcon, WRT, HTP and Walkenhorst are all running cars in both events, while ROWE Racing has decided to skip Monza and focus entirely on the Nordschleife event.

***The massive first lap pile up at the start of the Misano Qualifying Race turned out to be very costly one. The No. 8 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 (nicknamed Roxanne), No. 19 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini, No. 55 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 and No. 2 WRT Audi R8 LMS all sustained considerable chassis damage.

***Only three cars are opting for a two-driver lineup this weekend. Ahmad Al Harthy and Jonny Adam team up in the sole Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 on the grid (Oman Racing Team), with Pierre Ehret and Rino Mastronardi in the No. 488 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 and Gilles Vannelet and Bernard Delhez in HB Racing’s Lamborghini Huracán GT3.

***The No. 42 Strakka Racing McLaren 650S GT3 will also revert to running just two drivers,  following Nick Leventis’ crash yesterday. Lewis Williamson and Craig Fleming will share driving duties, the latter set to drive two stints as the Bronze-rated driver. The Strakka crew managed to get the car repaired by the early morning hours.

***Leventis has a grade two tear of his medial collateral ligament and is currently in a full length cast. The Brit is expected to be sidelined for around eight weeks according to the team, which could line him up for a return at Paul Ricard at the end of June.

***The second Lamborghini Super Trofeo race of the weekend saw a variation on the podium of the first. Rik Breukers and Jefferies Axcil Ramarin, yesterday’s winners, had to settle for second in the No. 7 GDL Racing entry, while Loris Spinelli and Mikael Grenier (Antonelli Motorsport) won the race with a 2.682-second margin. The VS Racing Lamborghini of Raphael Abbate and Yuki Nemoto finished third once again.

***Belgian drivers Pierre-Yves Paque and Grégory Paisse have announced they will return to the Total 24 Hours of Spa with a Porsche 991 Cup. Local team Speedlover will run the car in the National Group class. If they manage to gather additional budget, Paque and Paisse might switch to an Audi R8 LMS.

***Following the example of Phoenix Racing, WRT has also expanded into the Asian racing scene. Besides an entry in the Blancpain GT Series Asia, the Belgian team will also field two cars in the Audi R8 LMS Cup this year.

***Be sure to download the official SRO Spotter Guide, which features all 52 starters for today’s three-hour race, including all the new liveries and lineups. Click here to download the Spotter Guide and click here to download the starting grid. 

Vincent Wouters (@VinceWouters) is a Belgium-based sports car racing reporter, providing coverage primarily of the Blancpain GT Series.

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