EUROPEAN Le Mans Series – 4 July 2022

Difficult weekend in monza

It was a challenging weekend for Sam De Haan and his Oman Racing with TF Sport teammates in the heat of the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, where a severe lack of overall pace hindered the team. With time being lost over a single lap, the #69 Vantage GTE battled hard to climb up the order over the four-hour endurance race, but P10 was the best result possible against a strong field.

Outright pace would be the overriding factor of the weekend, and it was clear from the opening sessions that there was stark contrast to the last event where Sam and teammates Marco Sorenson and Ahmad Al Harthy claimed victory. Sam and the team worked through the test and set up programme, looking to make improvements, but the #69 Zenith-backed Vantage GTE and the sister #95 entry struggled for ultimate pace around the notoriously high-speed Monza circuit. Qualifying then delivered a top-6 result as the Oman Racing with TF Sport looked to minimise the gap to the front-runners. 

Holding position from the start, the #69 was immediately engaged in battles for position and forced to defend. Avoiding action was needed as the race reached 20 minutes when a fellow GTE runner was involved in a heavy incident which brought out the Safety Car, and Ahmad had recovered to his starting position when the race got back underway. Further incidents followed in quick succession which saw the Safety Car scrambled again, and with the pace of the race reduced, the team was able to extend the opening stint and look at strategy to bring them back into contention as the race progressed.

As the race was brought under a further caution just before middle distance, the pitstop cycles were well underway, and Sam took to the track to be immediately engaged in the battle for the final top-10 positions. He battled hard to defend, and continued to fight throughout the stint as the laptime differences continued to be highlighted before a further incident brought the action under Safety Car caution just before the conclusion of Sam’s stint. He managed the restart well, maintaining position, and then pitted for the run to the line by Marco. The final hour ran without further cautions, and Marco held position, unable to make further inroads to the cars ahead, crossing the line P10 after a hard-fought four-hours in extreme heat.

Sam explained:

“It was a really difficult weekend for the whole team, and we struggled with the pace against the whole field in each of the sessions, even with the pro drivers. We had some changes made since last time out, and we lacked overall performance, but the team did a great job to keep us in the fight, pushing to the end. It has hit our championship chances slightly, but we are still in the hunt, and we are at the mid-point of the season, so there are plenty more points to fight for and we will keep working hard to make sure we are back at the front next time out, in Barcelona.”

Sam now prepares for his next challenge, the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa at the end of the month.


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