Eleven months after the Sports Prototype Cup’s debut Formula 1 support race in Portugal, the Cup descended on the legendary Autodromo Nazionale Monza this weekend to host a pair of 35-minute support races to the Formula 1 Heineken Gran Premio d’Italia 2021. The quality grid included both the Revolution Trophy and the Radical SR3 Trophy. Both races were won by Swiss driver Michel Frey with his Revolution A-One.
In the brilliant sunshine of a late summer Monza afternoon, it was polesitter Michel Frey who led into the first chicane. Behind, there was action as fellow front row starter Jesse Menczer was inadvertently squeezed by the fast starting Chris Hoy. Menczer showed a masterly piece of car control to avoid hitting anyone but was delayed by a trip through the gravel.
The concertina effect from this incident shook up the order with Dominik Dierkes gaining eight places to move into a heady fourth. Menczer and Marcello Marateotto were shuffled to the back of the pack, but both began mighty fightbacks.
Into lap two, Frey led Hoy and James Abbott, with Chris Short and Dierkes making it five Revolution A-One prototypes in the top five overall. Martin Verity headed the Radical SR3 Trophy battle with a clean first lap to climb to sixth.
One of the expected Revolution front runners was Richard Wells, but he was suffering from drag from a damaged rear wheel arch caused in the first corner melee. This was the start of a bad day for the Breakell Racing driver.
On the following lap, Dierkes undid his good work with an off in turn one. With the order stable at the front, the eyes of the tifosi were on a brilliant battle for the lead in the SR3 class. Jacek Zielonka passed both Short and Verity on a stellar fourth lap and were joined by the leading Radical Romania Team driver Minhea Stefan, who was the man on the move in the early stages.
Equally entertaining was the Menczer fightback. From 14th, he was in the top ten after ten minutes of racing, with the recovering Marateotto shadowing every move.
Then on lap five, there was a dramatic collision at Lesmo. Schroeder lost control after getting two wheels on the grass on entry, Menczer braked to avoid him but Wells was launched airborne, riding over the top of Wells’ car. The resulting impact was heavy, but underlined the safety of the carbon fibre tub and double halo on the Revolution A-Ones of both drivers. Sadly, all three were out of the race. Dierkes had an off of his own, pitting for repairs under the safety car but losing a lap.
As the field bunched under the safety car, it was a Revolution top three with Frey leading Hoy and Abbott. The leading Radical was Zielonka in P4 from Verity and Stefan. Further back, Matt Brookes had avoided all the dramas and was having a great battle with Razvan Galan and Charles Graham.
The safety car came in on lap eight, and Zielonka overshot the chicane, handing the Radical lead to Verity. Brookes ran wide out of Lesmo 2, spearing across track into the inside barrier. There was impressive avoiding action from Marateotto and Zielonka, but Brookes suffered rear quarter damage in the impact.
Chris Short passed Verity for fourth on lap eight, at the same time as Frey posted the first lap in the 1m 53s bracket. Marateotto ran wide and lost a couple of places, but soon dispatched Zielonka and Stefan at T1 on lap 13 with Stefan making a brilliantly opportunistic manoeuvre to follow Marateotto through. Zielonka fought back with a brilliant demonstration of clean wheel to wheel racing, the Polish driver sitting it out with Stefan, side by side, for half a lap.
After 35 minutes of intense racing, Frey won by 18 seconds from Hoy and Abbott. Verity joined them on the podium as SR3 class winner. The BRM Speed Award for fastest lap in each class went to Frey and Verity.