Karim Ojjeh shares with us how a rerun of the epic Italian Western film would have given an an epic Italian GT3 race with the difference that the adjectives would have related on how the events of the weekend unfolded.
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.
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 built our confidence, and towards the end of the second day, we knew we had a good racing car.
Rain poured early on Sunday morning. We had our first qualifying session at 9:40am 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. Then came my turn! After two laps, my rear left wheel came off at 150 km/h as I was accelerating. End of race. 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 have to wait for Silverstone in four weeks.
The race on Youtube: https://youtu.be/mTgffcWqwes (See in particular at 55:34 minutes)