ELMS: Richard Mille Racing qualify P11, Iron Dames will start P5 in Monza 4H
The qualifying session for the upcoming Monza 4H saw the two all-female teams claiming P11 and P5 starting positions in their respective classes, as the ladies are confident to fight back tomorrow.
After a very promising Friday practice, the all-rookie Le Mans finishers ladies of Richard Mille Racing were sitting fifth in the timesheets, thanks to constant progression by all the three drivers - that are contesting this weekend in Monza their first ELMS race together after Le Mans.
“So far things are going good.” - told us Beitske Visser yesterday, after their solid performance in FP1. “In Le Mans we learned a lot and we made a big step now. We seem to have a very good pace so hopefully we can improve further and have a good result this weekend.”
On Thursday, the all-female LMP2 squad had already posted competitive laptimes, which gives high hopes to Floersch, Visser and Calderon for the remainder of the weekend:
“The car has been getting better and better.” - commented Tatiana Calderon, starting in Monza her fourth race in the #50 Oreca.
“It’s actually the first race after Le Mans that we race together, so it’s still a very young team and we’re still getting to know each other. But I think it was a really positive start and if we can be top-8 - from fifth to eighth - it would be a really nice race for us.”
The second all-female crew - competing in LMGTE category - had a similarly positive Friday at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Rahel Frey, Manuela Gostner and Michelle Gatting were fourth fastest in a very tight class classify.
On Saturday morning though, the second European Le Mans Series practice session was interrupted by two red flags that influenced their running schedules: at Richard Mille Racing, Sophia Floersch could not even get behind the wheel of the #50 prototype after the second red flag - brought out by the crash of the #34 InterEuropol LMP2 car - effectively ending the session prematurely.
With a 1:36.194, it was Colombian racer Tatiana Calderon to post their fastest lap, putting the team in 13th position.
Similar fate occurred to Danish Iron Lynx driver Michelle Gatting, who had to cut short her FP2 run. Nevertheless, Rahel Frey had a very competitive session and, after briefly leading the class standings, she finished again in fourth place.
When the lights went green for the 10-minute qualifying session for LMGTE, Rahel Frey had a challenging session as her first two flying laps were deleted for track limits but, after a very final attempt at the chequered flag, she could post a 1:46.773 that will gain the Iron Dames the fifth grid slot - just 0.660 behind the pole-sitter, fellow Iron Lynx driver Andrea Piccini in the sister #60 car.
In second in third places will be the two Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR cars of Richard Lietz and Alessio Picariello.
Six cars had at least one time cancelled.
“Qualifying was quite difficult because a lot of laps got deleted for track limits, which was a shame.” - said Rahel after qualifying. “For us, P3 would have been possible - in the end we made it to P5 which is okay, but also not perfect. But we’re going to fight back in the race, we feel confident, we feeld good.”
“Big congrats to the sister car because they got pole position.”
The LMP2 qualifying followed, with Tatiana Calderon getting behind the wheel of the #50 Richard Mille Racing Oreca.
In another frantic 10-minute session, Fjordbach in the #20 High Class Racing crashed at Ascari but managed to limp back to the pits. Calderon went sixth fatest but then, as several cars dived into the pits for a second set of tyres, the #50 team opted to stay out and ultimately finished in P11 with a best lap of 1:35.437.
“It was a bit trickier for us today to be honest.” - said Calderon.
“The track conditions changed a little bit from this morning to the afternoon, and we put only one set of tyres. Our spirit is more to have a good race.”
“I think I didn’t do a good enough job in qualifying, but I think we are in the mix and we can do a really good job in the race.” - she added.
The session was topped by the #22 United Autosport of Felipe Albuquerque, who claimed his sixth pole position in a row. He preceded the #26 G-Drive of Nyck De Vries, who had led up until the very final minute of the session.
But, surely, with 4 hours tomorrow to make up for today’s issues, both the all-women teams competing in the European Le Mans Series will show all their determination and ambition tomorrow in the 4 Hours of Monza, targeting top-5 results after a promising start of the penultimate ELMS round.
“All is going good so far! We have a strong pace for the race so looking forward to the fight tomorrow” - rounded out Visser.
The race will go live on Sunday 11 October at 11:00 CEST.