TCR Series Live From Monza
The fourth race meeting of the 2017 TCR International Series takes place this weekend on Monza’s super-fast Autodromo, known worldwide as the ‘Temple of Speed.
The TCR International Series runs within the frame of the European Le Mans Series 4 Hours with qualifying Saturday morning, 6:44 Australian Eastern Time) followed by the first Race in the early afternoon. Race 2 will start on Sunday morning.
After the first three events of the season, Leopard Racing’s Jean-Karl Vernay has been able to build a cushion of points between himself and his rivals. The Frenchman has scored in all of the six races held so far, finishing on the podium three times, including his first victory of the year in the second race at Spa.
Vernay’s margin amounts to 25 points ahead of Stefano Comini, while Attila Tassi, Dušan Borkovi? and Roberto Colciago rank from third to fifth with gaps of 38, 40 and 41 points respectively.
The six races held so far have produced six different winners at the wheel of five different models of cars: Alfa Romeo, SEAT, Honda, Audi and Volkswagen.
Only the Opel Astra has not won a race yet, but has already shown its potential with the 1-2 in Bahrain Qualifying and the victory claimed by Mat’o Homola in TCR Benelux a couple of weeks ago. In fact, Homola and his DG Sport Compétition teammate Pierre-Yves Corthals have frequently been handicapped by bad luck .
Along the straights of Monza, outright speed will be a factor, which could be an advantage for the Honda and the SEAT cars, while Comini and Vernay will have to cope with the extra weight of the Success Ballast.
With such a close field, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Monza produces a seventh different race winner, or even an eighth…
Colciago, Morbidelli and Alfa Romeo; the Italian Factor
The Autodromo is one of the favourite places for Italian motorsport fans, especially when they can cheer representatives of the national colours, either drivers or cars.
Roberto Colciago in the M1RA Honda Civic Type-R will be one of the men to watch. Monza is his – and JAS Motorsport’s – home racetrack and the reigning TCR Italy champion is eager to make up for a disappointing Belgian weekend, when the Success Ballast greatly affected the performance of his Civic on the steep slopes of Spa.
Gianni Morbidelli too has a special feeling with the Autodromo, where he won both races on the occasion of the TCR’s first visit in 2015. And on top of this, the former F1 racer is eager to make up for a disappointing start of the season that saw him struggling to set up the WestCoast Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI.
However, quite possibly the Tifosi’s strongest support will go to the Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta cars driven by Davit Kajaia and Dusan Borkovi?. Both the Georgian and the Serbian have already savoured the sweet taste of victory in the previous rounds, but success in Monza would have a very different meaning.
In fact, the last time an Alfa Romeo won a Touring Car race at the Autodromo dates back to 2006…too long a wait!
Success Ballast for Comini and Vernay
In the Monza event, Success Ballast will only be carried by Stefano Comini and Jean-Karl Vernay, the r ace winners of the previous event at Spa-Francorchamps.
Comini was the best scorer in Belgium, with pole position, victory in Race 1 and third in Race 2 that brought him 45 points, but also 30 kilos of Success Ballast. Vernay, the current points leader, scored 39 points in Spa and so will be given 20 extra kilos.
The 10-kilo Success Ballast for the third best scorer will not be allocated, as Benjamin Lessennes (who pocketed 31 points in his home race meeting) will not race at Monza.
As a result, Comini’s Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS will weigh 1360kg (1285kg minimum weight + 30kg Success Ballast + 45kg B alance of Performance adjustment), while the running weight of Vernay’s Leopard Racing WRT Volkswagen Golf GTI will be 1315kg (1285kg + 20kg SB + 10kg BoP).
Jaap van Lagen replaces Rob Huff at Monza
Jaap van Lagen will replace Rob Huff at the wheel of the Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI for this weekend’s race meeting at Monza.
Huff, who joined the team last week at Spa, is forced to skip Monza because of a previous commitment and will be back from the following event at the Salzburgring.
With Jean-Karl Vernay currently leading the TCR International Series standings, the team did not want to miss the opportunity of fielding its second car and picked van Lagen who is both experienced and fast enough to provide good support to the Frenchman.
“I’m very much looking forward to my first TCR event ever at Monza! Especially because I’m joining a top team and I will be driving a competitive car. For me it’s a good opportunity to come back to Touring Car racing after a few years with LADA Sport. I hope I will be able do a good job and score important points for the team!”