This afternoon saw the 2017 Official Test in Monza wrap up after two interesting and exciting days on track at the ‘home of Italian Motorsport’.
Through seven sessions we got the first view of this season’e new teams, drivers and most importantly, the new cars with all classes showing off new and updated machinery. In the top LMP2 category this was the first chance in Europe to see how the new Gibson powered Global LMP2 chassis’ performed and the answer is, fast!
While there are still wrinkles and niggles for all the teams to iron out the speed of the 2017 machinery is impressive with the cars setting lap times comparable to the LMP1 cars when the LMS last raced at Monza in 2008.
James Allen in the #40 Graff Racing Oreca 07 Gibson set the fastest speed of the event during the day one night session with a speed of 314.9 kp/h (195.7 mph), the only LMP1 to beat that speed in 2008 being the #1 Audi Sport Team Joest R10 TDI which topped out at 320 km/h.
The new Dallara P217 Gibson was the next fastest LMP2 manufacturer with Dutch legend Jan Lammers clocking up a 311.2 kp/h top seep on lap 11 of the Night Session, enough to give the yellow machine joint third fastest speed of the event. The fastest Ligier JSP217 Gibson was the #32 United Autosports car which clocked up a speed of 305.9 kp/h in the hands of William Owen during the morning session of Day Two.
In the LMP3 class we saw the Norma M30 on track for the first time, it’s distinctive cockpit shape and nose easily distinguishing it from the slew of Ligier JS-P3s and it’s fast as well – Dario Capitanio setting a 279.1 kp/h lap in the #10 Oregon Team car, nearly 2 kp/h faster than the fastest Ligier (Giorgio Mondini – 11 EUROINTERNATIONAL 277.6 kp/h).
In the GTE class this year sees the technology drip down from the 2016 GTE Pro class and the turbocharged Ferrari F488 GTE and high-aero Aston Martin V8 Vantage join the ELMS circus. The event’s honours went to Aston Martin with debutants Salih Yoluc and TF Sport setting a laptime of 1:48.720 (191.8 kp/h) during the Morning Session of day one with Beechdean AMR’s Ross Gunn and Darren Turner 2nd and 3rd setting a 1:49.237 (AM Day 1) and 1:49.885 (Night Day 1) respectively.
The fastest Ferrari was the F488 GTE of AF Corse run Spirit of Race which Matt Griffin peddled to a 1:50.041 during the morning session on day two. The older JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia was only half a second behind clocking in at 1:50.560 in the hands of Jody Fannin in the same session.
The events saw its fair share of incidents as well with every session seeing red flags, waved yellows and FCY as many new LMP3 drivers struggled to get to grips with aero cars and the speeds of the Monza circuit. The two heaviest accidents were suffered by the Yvan Muller Racing Norma M30 and #26 United Autosports Ligier JSP3. The YMR Norma M30 appeared virtually destroyed after Bronze driver Gwenaël Delomier rolled the car at the high-speed Ascari chicane, leaving the team in a race against time to get the car to the season opener at Silverstone.
The United Autosports Gulf-liveried JSP3 of Richard Meins and Shaun Lynn was withdrawn on day one as well after Meins significantly damaged the front-end of the the car and damaged the tub. Both drivers are reported OK following medical checks.
although they were the two worst incidents, the yellows kept coming as prototypes were rescued from gravel traps and in one occasion, the #5 Ligier blew it’s gearbox leaving it stranded at the second chicane.
Salih Yoluc, who, while setting the fasted time in the GTE class, is still getting to grips with the GTE Vantage collided with an LMP3 at Turn 1 during the morning session of Day Two, damaging the front of the car, putting an end to the test for the British debutant team.