SRWC: Baldi and Formato win in Monza

Pit stop strategy, tyre choice and the weather made for a fascinating second round of the 2000 Sports Racing World Championship at Monza today.

SRWC: Baldi and Formato win in Monza

Victory in the 500 km race went to R&M's Riley and Scott, driven by local hero Mauro Baldi and South Africa's Gary Formato. They emerged victorious from a tense 3-way battle between themselves and their nearest rivals, the JB Giesse Ferrari and the Den Bla Avis Panoz, with the DAMS Cadillac Northstar a lap down in fourth.

After pole setter and early race leader Tom Coronel, driving the Konrad Lola, fell by the wayside with engine trouble, Baldi took the lead. However John Nielsen, racing on an ambitious three stop strategy in the Panoz, moved into the front spot on lap 42 and looked like keeping it throughout the rest of the race.

The weather had other plans, and as the drizzle turned into a downpour, an extra pit-stop demoted Torquil Thyrring, in the Panoz, to second. David Terrien, at the wheel of the JB Giesse, kept the lead as long as possible, despite the Ferrari's slick tyres. He rejoined in third after a late stop for wets, and Formato inherited the lead.

With Terrien gaining on average five seconds a lap, he caught and overtook Thyrring four laps from the end of the race. But Gary Formato, in the R&M Riley & Scott, put in an impressive display in the slippery conditions, and the South African took the chequered flag, giving Mauro Baldi his first Monza win for ten years.

"I'm extremely satisfied for myself and Gary, and for the team," Baldi said afterwards. "It's a completely new team, so the satisfaction is absolutely at the top for everybody."

The JB Giesse duo were also pleased with their result, keeping them at the top of the points table, especially considering how little running they had before the race, due to a last-minute engine change. "Starting from eighth, and with no idea of the aerodynamical balance, was very hard, so to come in second is very good."

Nielsen was less happy with third, as, without the weather, their pit-stop strategy could have given them the win. "The rain played a game with us," John Nielsen said afterwards. "We have a lot of development still to do on wet tyres."

The SportsRacing Lights category was won by the Redman Bright team of Peter Owen and Mark Smithson, after a brilliant drive up from the back of the grid following an almost complete rebuild of the car overnight. "We had really bad problems yesterday, so they changed the engine and gearbox. Then in the warm-up the gear lever broke. And we had a new rear underfloor too," Peter Owen said. "I got us up to second, then handed over to Mark and he did a brilliant job !" They were followed home by Lucchini Engineering, with Ronca and Francioni in the SR2.

The fourth round of the SportsRacing World Cup will take place at the Belgian track of Spa Francorchamps on May 21st.

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