Karim Ojjeh : my weekend race at Monza !
Wikipedia describes the Good, the Bad and the Ugly as “the 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone and staring Client Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach”. If you have not seen it, it’s worth watching this classic on a rainy day after a good yoga session!
A rerun of the same movie would have given, the Bad, the Good and the Ugly, as a 2019 Italian (Monza is in Italy) GT3 race directed by SRO (Stephan Ratel Organization). But rather than relating to actors, as in the movie, the adjectives would have related on how the events of the weekend unfolded.
The Bad: we came earlier for the race weekend to run in the first free paid practice, a novelty this year giving teams more practice time before the actual weekend starts. None of us could feel the car! It was simply not responding to our driving. The front was disconnected with the rear in terms of driving. The car kept washing out, meaning huge understeer from mid to exit corners. We debriefed and made changes to the car.
The Good: when the official weekend started, we finally had a car that responded to the driver input. The understeer was gone! The rear was following the car. We build our confidence, and towards the end of the second day, we knew we had a good racing car!
The Ugly: rain poured early on Sunday morning. We had our first qualifying session at 9:40 and it was messy. Within 15 minutes, and 2 red flags, 7 cars, out of 49, had crashed! The qualifying sessions are three, fifteen minute sessions. Each driver of each team has to take part. An average of the three drivers is taken to determine the grid position. When my turn came, I spun due to aquaplaning. I quickly went into the pits to reboot the system. When I went back on the circuit, the session was red flagged before I could complete a timed lap. This put us at the end of the grid for the race. The race started under the safety car due to heavy rain. The safety car came in after 2 laps and the race started. My co-driver Marc was having an awful time. He was unable to build temperature in the tires and drove his entire stint as if on ice. My next co-driver, Philipp, did a great job posting the best time of the car and being very competitive. Then came my turn! After two laps, my rear left wheel came off at 150 km/h as I was accelerating. End of race.
Look at the countdown of the race and go to 55:34 minutes. Watch the replay! We don’t know what caused the entire wheel to come off, but the wheel-hub after the brakes had a clean cut. The team is investigating the cause.
We have a good team, car and driver lineup. Monza simply did not show our true competitiveness. We will simply have to wait for Silverstone in already 4 weeks! Wishing you all a great 4 weeks ahead before the next report!
Last picture… Unhappy driver !