Jacobson and Kozar Defiant in Shock Monza Victory

Commonwealth drivers Markus Jacobson and Valeri Kozar took a upset victory at the 2018 GT Super Series Round of Italy at Monza.

They were among the group of five cars that elected to stay out when the rest of the field scrambled for intermediate tires when the rain started to fall. They were rewarded in kind, waiting a few laps later to pit for full wets. The ploy played off for the group, as everyone else then had to pit again for the full wet compound tires. Leading the group would be James James Davies and Valeri Kozar, while separated by fifteen seconds at the front, had a gap of twenty seconds over Giulio Mari in the Pagani Zonda. The gap would remain mostly stable, bar putting cars one lap down, for the full stint they had on the wet tires.

After their second round, third for the rest of the field, of pit stops cycled out the gap had closed to five seconds, Jacobson retaking the reigns of his Commonwealth Corvette with Davies staying behind the wheel of the pole-sitting Ferrari.  Jacobson would start to close the gap with the rain starting to lighten up. The gap would close from the five seconds to nothing in a span of ten minutes before the Finn would pass for the lead at the Rettifilio and try to break away. Everyone would then pit for the final time for dry tires which would see the gap between the two, Restov taking over for Davies in the stop, climb to ten seconds once the cycle resolved. The pair would then be trapped with a group of cars on the end of the lead lap, struggling to lap them and keep them one lap down. With five minutes remaining Restov would catch Jacobson but it would be as close as the factory Ferrari driver would get at his team’s home race; Jacobson would put Antonio Reyna-Sanchez one lap down putting a car between him and Restov. With the Russian failing to get past the Saleen, Jacobson would be able to break away and take the overall victory at Monza. This is the first overall victory for a Independent Class car since the RAC Tourist Trophy last year and gives Valeri Kozar a 25 point lead over Gia Van Dycke in the Independents Trophy with the 15 point score.

The highest finishing car that pitted for the intermediates was championship contenders Chris Winter and Einar Armansson in third place, leaving the gap between them and championship leaders Restov and Davies at four points as they head to North America. After jumping Redur Jaffer, one of the cars that didn’t pit for intermediates,  in the scheduled round of pit stops for wets, the Icelandic driver would start to track down the then leader of the early pitters in Joel Melrose in the Tom Douglas Saleen. While Einar would start to close on Melrose, Melrose himself would start to close Giulio Mari in the factory Pagani. Melrose would pass Mari at Variante Ascari before the pit stops for dry tires and Winter, taking over for Armansson, would jump the Pagani in the pit stops. The gap would close with twenty minutes remaining but Winter would only manage to make the pass happen on Joel Melrose with five minutes remaining for the final spot on the podium. The pair of James Douglas and Joel Melrose would score eleven points for the Independent’s Trophy bid with the fourth place finish overall.

Behind the top five would be a tight battle for the bottom half of the points paying positions once the track dried out. Eight cars would be in the pack, then being led by the lone Best In The World Lamborghini in the field. The first driver to clear Simon Mestach would be Gia Van Dycke on her way to a eighth place finish after Joey Alliot and Denis van Walwijk would clear Mestach and then Van Dycke. The pair of Mestach and Jaffer would end up finishing in tenth place, scoring the final point.

Finishing between them was early contender for the final step on the podium in the Independent Class in the 09 Chris Short Ferrari driven by Russian Pair Alexy Melvanov and Vitaly Kabirov. Kabirov in particular took advantage of the wet conditions to make a trio of bold overtakes on Jacob Tucker, Andrea Constantini in the second Factory Ferrari and Jacques Malenfant in a Carson Corvette as a part of a charge that brought his Dunlop-shod Ferrari into the top ten. After the track dried out, the factory cars would retake the positions, leaving then Melvanov in tenth on the road. The Russian would then get a last lap gain of position after Matteo Rossi suffered a Engine failure on the last lap on the run to Lesmo 1. The Italian at his home race had to come back from seventeenth after being blocked in his pit stall earlier in the race and would have finished seventh if his and Roland Davidson’s Engine held out for that last lap.

Race Results – After 63 Laps

228MRestov/DaviesScuderia Italia+11.157
455IDouglas/MelroseTom Douglas+35.163
727Mvan Walwijk/ConstantiniScuderia Italia+46.982
821IVan Dycke/CaseBelgio+58.627
909IMelvanov/KabirovChris Short+1:04.542
1011IMestach/JafferBest In The World+1:05.575
1114MRei/WongGerald Pereria+1:06.798
1241MTravesen/SparksGerald Pereria+1:06.934
13007MMagnus/GeiszlerFalken Tire+1:10.774
1403MLe Fay/FazioSolvalou+1.11.625
173IBourne/TuckerBoutsen Ginion+1:20.328
1830IJenkins/PellerinGlobex Scorpio+1:35.454
196MRossi/DavidsonGulf+1 Lap*
20555IA.+V. Reyna-SanchezTom Douglas+1 Lap
2108IWhiting/de LangeChris Short+1 Lap
2244IVercuisse/CharpantierEuromotor+1 Lap
2331IWinton/YanameWinton+1 Lap
2470ITime/ManciniAstana+4 Laps
252IKikkawa/GauthierBoutsen Ginion+6 Laps*
2664MQi/JonesCarsonSpun Off
2757IShidehara/FitzgeraldCommonwealthSpun Off
3089IPescatore/RodriguezLynxeSpun Off

Fastest Lap – Car 27 (Scuderia Italia Ferrari – van Walwijk/Constantini) – 1:43.891

Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race – Jacobson and Kozar: Hanged tough with the favorite in the race and then found their moment and took it.

Reject of The Race – Rossi and Davidson’s Engine: A recovery drive that wasn’t meant to be, a bitter pill to swallow for hometown hero Rossi.