EU3: Monza: Michelin preview

REVENGE FOR MASERATI AND CORVETTE? Following their recent defeat by Wendlinger/Sharp's Aston Martin/Michelin at Silverstone, the Michelin-equipped Maseratis and Corvettes will be looking to gain the upper hand as the 2008 FIA GT ...

REVENGE FOR MASERATI AND CORVETTE?

Following their recent defeat by Wendlinger/Sharp's Aston Martin/Michelin at Silverstone, the Michelin-equipped Maseratis and Corvettes will be looking to gain the upper hand as the 2008 FIA GT Championship moves on to Monza, Italy, where Michelin tyres achieved a clean sweep (including in the GT1 and GT2 categories) at the Le Mans Series meeting three weeks ago.

Silverstone turned out to be happy hunting ground for the quintessentially British Aston Martin, so could Monza prove successful for the Italian GTs? Or could it be their American rivals who steal the limelight at the second round of the 2008 FIA GT Championship? Whichever way it goes, the racing promises to be particularly close as the top teams that were outdistanced by Wendlinger and Sharp in the British fog seek sweet revenge.

After a difficult qualifying session in England, the three-time championship-winning Vitaphone Racing team recovered to secure second place, while Bouchut/Masssen and their Corvette/Michelin came fourth. It was this car, though, which claimed the fastest time during the official FIA GT test which took place at Monza in April.

Despite carrying 30kg of success ballast at Monza, the Jetalliance-run Aston Martin/Michelin of the ebullient Scot Ryan Sharp and Austria's Karl Wendlinger, who took his FIA GT score to a record 13 wins at Silverstone, could well pick up a second consecutive success at Monza where the car was fastest in qualifying in 2007 before taking the spoils in the race.

"The top GT1s lap Monza at an average of around 200kph," says Gerard Bombled, the Manager of Michelin's Endurance and FIA GT Programmes . It's one of the fastest venues of the season, if not THE fastest, and that calls for tyres with a particularly strong construction. The track surface isn't that abrasive but the weather in the Milan region can be very hot at this time of the year, so will have two types of medium compound slicks, as well as three different rain tyres for our GT1 partners."

Ferrari on home ground?

The GT2 classification of the 2007 race at Monza was dominated by Michelin-shod Ferraris which claimed a one-two finish on home soil. Muller and Vilander came second w ith their F430/Michelin despite carrying 78kg of ballast and they even pulled off the feat of contesting the entire race on the same set of tyres, a strategy which Dirk Muller applied successfully once again at the recent American Le Mans Series race at Long Beach!

"Our GT2 partners will be able to choose between a hard and a medium compound slick," adds Gerard Bombled. "Following their performance at Silverstone, I think we can expect Porsche to stage a fight back this weekend. Its drivers were in top form with customer-competition tyres against those Ferraris running on rival tyres at the Le Mans Series race held at Monza at the end of April. This weekend, all our GT2 partners will be on 'evolution' tyres."

The FIA GT3 Championship

The first two FIA GT3 encounters of the season at Silverstone were won by Mutsch/Khan's Ford GT ahead of a field of more than 40 starters. "At Monza, our partners should be competitive on customer-competition tyres," says Gerard Bombled. Michelin customer -competition tyres won the Le Mans Series GT2 category here at Monza in April with Porsche."

Michelin is a partner of the FIA GT3 Championship and will award a prize in the form of tyres to the winner at the end of the season.

Monza Circuit: 5.770km

Gerard Bombled (Endur ance and FIA GT Programme Manager, Michelin) "Along with Le Mans and Spa, this is one of Europe's fastest circuits. There are a lot of turns - such as the Curva Parabolica - where the cars corner hard, while the other constraints faced by the tyres are the repeated heavy braking and traction. We use a medium compound here, especially since the weather can be hot at Monza at this time of the year."

Logistics Michelin will take 1,300 tyres to Monza, and six Michelin technicians will be in attendance to assist the firm's partner teams.

-credit: michelin

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Dirk Müller , Karl Wendlinger , Ryan Sharp