Brand-new duo formed by Shinyo Sano and Teruaki Kato stages comeback winding up 19th
Monza's Michelin Le Mans Cup leg had in store a steep learning curve for Nova Race drivers. At the lone Italian venue where the ACO-sanctioned sportscars series makes a stop, doing well was a matter of pride for the Italian outfit that runs the Ginetta LMP3 entered by Japan's TKS team. However, a puncture and a shunt blighted free practices, and the Correggio, Italy-based team worked head-down to put drivers Shinyo Sano and Teruaki Kato back into the cockpit of the yellow sportscar.
The Ginetta of the two Japanese was back on track in time for qualifying, albeit little time left to work on set-up only yielded a spot on the last row for the N. 96 Ginetta. However, things did change yesterday as the 2-hour race went underway: Sano quickly moved past a pair of GT3 Ferraris as well as two LMP3 Ligiers, showing poise and pace. Unfortunately, the misadventures occuring across free practice had forced the team to buy an additional set of tires besides the usual three, and according to sporting regulations a 1-minute stop-and-go to be served in the first half of the race ensued.
After stopping in the pit-lane, Sano resumed the race continuing to post good lap times. Kato then managed to make a good impersonation of his fellow Japanese mate, who's way more experienced than him in the LMP3 Ginetta: the touring car regular had the chance to prove on his Michelin Le Mans Cup debut that his shunt at the Ascari curve on Friday had been put on the back of his mind. He too soon set good lap times, although struggling in the final laps with some visibility problems due to oil spilled on his windscreen. In the end the two Japanese were happy with their performances: without the penalty served their 19th place overall could have easily translate into a 15th or 16th place. In a nutshell, Monza has given team and drivers confidence for the most important stage of the season ahead: the Road to Le Mans scheduled at the historic Sarthe track on June 16th.