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Stormy Weather Provides Dramatic End to Monza Race

LMC - 11/05/2019 - Jeff CARTER

It was a frantic final 15 minutes of the second race of the 2019 Michelin Le Mans Cup at Monza after storm clouds gathered over the track. Thunder and Lightning, heavy rain and strong winds were the hallmark of the final laps, with drivers heading to the pits to swap to Michelin wets to complete the race.

The no25 Lanan Racing Norma of Duncan Tappy was the first car to take the chequered flag after the British team’s mechanics got his Norma out ahead of Colin Noble’s Nielsen Racing Norma M30-Nissan which had been leading the race before the storm.  With the track awash with rain water, the no3 DKR Engineering Norma of Laurent Hörrs overtook Noble to finish second, with the Nielsen Racing Norma coming home to claim the final podium position.

The GT3 class was won by the no71 Luzich Racing Ferrari with Mikkel Mac securing the win from the no8 Kessel Racing 488 GT3 of Giacomo Piccini.  Piccini had been chasing down the lead car but a drive through penalty for causing a collision with the no11 Norma earlier in the race put the Italian 60 seconds down the road, but still well ahead of the third placed car the no51 Spirit of Race Ferrari. 

Sunshine to Thunder Storms in 100 minutes of Racing
The race started under sunny skies, with an air temperature of 18 degrees.  The 30 strong grid were led by the no43 KEO Racing Ligier of Michael Markkussen into the first corner with the no3 DKR Engineering Norma of Francois Kirmann right behind the lead car, who in turn was followed closely by Tony Wells in the no2 Nielsen racing Norma and Eric Trouillet in the no9 Graff Norma M30.  

Adrien Chila in the no39 Graff Norma and Trouillet’s M30 collided, causing some damage to the front of Chila’s car, the French driver struggling with the ill handling car until the mandatory pitstop at the halfway point of the race.  There was further trouble for Chila when he was judged to have jumped the start and had to serve a drive through penalty.

Further back the no71 Luzich Racing Ferrari of Fabien Lavergne took the lead from the pole sitting no8 Kessel Racing 488 of Sergio Pianezzola.  

The no7 Scuderia Villorba Corse Mercedes of Mauro Calamia also got ahead of Pianezzola but the start was judged to have been too good and Calamia had to serve a drive through for jump start.

The battle for the lead of the race saw the no43 Ligier and no3 Norma M30 running in close formation with Markkussen keeping the DKR Engineering run car at bay with the no2 Norma of Tony Wells, the no9 Graff Norma of Eric Trouillet and the no25 Lanan Racing Norma of Michael Benham keeping in close contention.

After the mandatory pitstops there was a short Full Course Yellow period to recover the no11 Racing Experience Norma-Nissan of David Hauser which had gone off the track at T7 after contact with the no8 Ferrari.  

When the race went green again the no2 Nielsen Racing Norma of Colin Noble closing the gap on the lead car, now with Joakim Frid at the wheel.  On lap 40 Noble got a better run across the line and took the lead on inside into Turn 1.  Frid was then passed by the no25 Lanan Racing Norma of Duncan Tappy two laps later when the Swede ran wide into the first corner and had to take to the escape road.

In GT3 the no71 Luzich Racing Ferrari of Mikkel Mac had a six second lead over Giacomo Piccini but the Italian received a drive through penalty for an earlier collision for the contact with the no11 Norma.

With just 30 minutes of the race remaining all eyes were looking upwards as dark clouds gathered overhead, with teams making their wet tyres ready in the pitlane in case they were needed before the chequered flag. With less than 20 minutes remaining the rain came down and the drivers headed to the pits to change tyres.  With 11 minutes remaining on the clock a Full Course Yellow period was declared as some drivers struggled in the worsening conditions.

At the pitstop the no2 Nielsen Racing Norma was longer in the pits than the Lanan Racing Norma and Duncan Tappy took the lead.  The race returned to green flag conditions with just six minutes remaining.  Tappy brought the car home 17.8 seconds ahead of Laurent Horrs DKR Engineering Norma, with Colin Noble a further 30.8 seconds back in third place.

The no71 Luzich Racing Ferrari took the chequered flag 44 seconds ahead of the no8 Kessel Racing Ferrari, who in turn was 60.8 seconds ahead of the no51 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

Round 3 of the 2019 Michelin Le Mans Cup will be the Road to Le Mans with two 55-minute races on the full La Sarthe circuit.  The first race is on Thursday 13 June, with the second race on Saturday morning as a curtain raiser for the world’s greatest motor sport event, the 87th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
CLICK HERE for the results from Round 2 at Monza

CLICK HERE for the championship positions after Round 2

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