Monza: Horag-Lista race report

Horag-Lista Team Runs Well at Monza MONZA, Italy, July 13 - A brand-new edition of Lista's world-famous red and white No. 27 endurance sports car debuted here last weekend and was immediately impressive, as drivers Didier Theys and Fredy...

Horag-Lista Team Runs Well at Monza

MONZA, Italy, July 13 - A brand-new edition of Lista's world-famous red and white No. 27 endurance sports car debuted here last weekend and was immediately impressive, as drivers Didier Theys and Fredy Lienhard Sr. joined the Le Mans Endurance Series (LMES) circuit with the Horag-Lista Lola B05/40 Judd.

With only one short test session behind it in the Czech Republic, the car was unloaded from the Horag-Lista transporter at Monza and was immediately fast. Theys recorded the third-fastest time in one of the practice sessions on Friday. Unfortunately the entry ran into some bad luck during Sunday's race and it didn't finish the over-five-hour, 173-lap enduro, but it ran well enough in its initial competition to make everyone involved very optimistic going into the next race Aug. 12-13 at Silverstone, England.

"We were quite happy with the car," Theys said afterwards. "We were among the fastest in the practice sessions on Friday, which is a testament to both the package and the team's preparation."

The car developed a little bit of understeer in the free practice session Saturday morning before qualifying, and the understeer became worse during the afternoon qualifying session. "It was much warmer in the afternoon, and we haven't worked with this Lola chassis long enough to learn enough to make the correct adjustments to the set-up for the temperature change," Theys explained. "We qualified 14th overall and seventh in the LMP2 class, but we had run better in practice."

The entry's official qualifying time was 1:43.109 for 14th overall in the 42-car field and seventh in the LMP2 class.

In the warm-up session on Sunday before the race the car was better than it was on Saturday. "We reduced the downforce to get a better balance, and things went well in the race at first," Theys noted. "Our goal for our first race was simply to finish, so I drove very conservatively and kept my position for some time, trying to save the equipment and not get involved in an accident.

"My first stint went OK," he added, "but at the end of my second stint one of the sensors on the paddle shift wasn't working correctly and I had to revert to regular shifting. That was fine, but I wasn't quite as fast. Then we pitted and the crew replaced the sensor, and all of a sudden it was better. We got up to third in class and tenth overall."

The team was developing an interesting tire strategy, but unfortunately other problems then surfaced. "The Michelin tires are so good that we were trying to do a triple stint with them," Theys said. "Then when we finally did pit to change the tires, the crew had some problems with the wheels and we lost a lot of time. Fredy got onto the track but unfortunately then the left-rear wheel fell off. He spun in the grass and he was lucky not to have hit the wall. We were too far away from the pits for him to get back there, make repairs and continue, so we were done for the day. We made it almost to the half-way point."

Theys added that both he and Lienhard were pleased that the team had solved the electronic problems that had cropped up at its test, and both were very happy with the Lola Judd itself.

"It's the endurance sports car that is closest to a single-seater race car that I've ever driven, and it's very fun to drive," Theys said. "We were just one second off a similar car that had been delivered in December. We didn't even decide to enter this series until this spring, so we aren't that far behind. Our problems in qualifying were just our lack of experience with the car, and our problems during the race were just bad luck. The team and the car have great potential, so we'll forget our bad luck quickly and look forward to the next race with a lot of optimism."

"That's racing," Lienhard said. "I'm disappointed, but not too much because of the good impression we made here."

"The last few weeks have been very tough for my guys as we organized and built up the team, so it would have been very nice to have gotten a good finish here," noted team owner Markus Hotz. "I'm sure we'll get good results in the near future, as we did run quite well at Monza."

The entire team will hope for better luck at Silverstone next month, but the team, its drivers and the entire racing world are pleased that Theys and Lienhard are back in competition.

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Didier Theys , Fredy Lienhard