The pressure is on as Team Maranello Concessionaires qualify their two Ferrari 360 N/GT race cars in fifth and eighth positions in class on the grid for the final round of the FIA GT Championship in Monza, Italy.
Ahead of tomorrow's critical final round of the FIA GT Championship at the Autodromo Nationale di Monza circuit close to Milan, TMC has qualified its two Ferrari 360 N/GT race cars in fifth (car 88) and eighth (car 89) positions in class on the grid. The team is aiming for a one-two victory to have the best possible chance of securing both the Drivers' and Teams' Championships - TMC's Jamie Davies is nine and a half points behind the leading pair of drivers with 10 points available for a win and the team is 14 points behind with eighteen points available for a one-two result.
Davies' driving partner, Darren Turner, set the quickest time for the team today by completing a lap in 1.51.407, a second and a half behind pole position, to secure fifth place in class on the grid for tomorrow's race. Tim Mullen, driving car 89, achieved a time of 1.51.980 to qualify himself and Kelvin Burt in eighth position in class. These times were achieved this afternoon as both cars were thwarted in their efforts to qualify during this morning's session due to a deposit of oil from another car at the entrance of turn eight. Turner span and could not recover his car from the gravel trap; Mullen also span and flat-spotted his tyres. 89's crew decided to withdraw the car from the session in order to preserve their second set of tyres which are needed for the start of tomorrow's race.
Yesterday's practice sessions saw the team taking the time to create a set- up for both cars that suits the 5.7 Km-long Monza track. A combination of long straights and low, medium and high speed corners means that the correct aerodynamic balance can make a significant difference to the cars' performance over such a long distance. Although the team's four drivers all have experience of the circuit, this weekend represents their first chance to drive their Ferraris in anger.
Monza also represents the climax of Team Maranello Concessionaires' collaboration with Universal Pictures International (UPI). Both parties have worked together to promote the international launch of the DVD and video of the hit movie, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Since the eighth round of the Championship in Oschersleben, Germany, TMC's two race cars and transporters have been carrying 2 Fast 2 Furious branding and the team will be entertaining more than 30 UPI guests tomorrow, several of whom will have the opportunity to be driven around the Monza circuit by Jamie Davies in his Ferrari immediately after the race.
Tim Mullen: "This morning's bad luck speaks for itself. This afternoon, I had some difficulties with traffic and could only achieve one clear lap. As I was running on our race tyres, I didn't want to push too hard. The car was also suffering from a sticky gearbox which is the last thing you need here. Braking into tight corners from high speeds means that you need the 'box to help you lose momentum. The team will rectify this tonight and I'm sure we will be in good health for tomorrow's race. Having witnessed how the guys rise to a challenge like this, I'm confident that we will be fighting for a great finish."
Darren Turner: "Not the best start to our most important race meeting! It was sheer bad luck to be running behind the car that dropped a lot of oil going into turn eight this morning and there was nothing I could do to catch my car. Once in the gravel, my session was over. This afternoon proved to be different - the car is in really great shape. We were able to progress with our set-up work and Jamie and I will be back in the fight tomorrow."