Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing is looking to make a comeback in Monza after a challenging two races at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit last weekend. With their recent struggles in qualifying, both the team and the trio of drivers are determined to find improvements that will ensure they are competing from the front of the grid in Monza. Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing are also intent on regaining their lead in the teams’ championship in Italy, and with none of the drivers carrying any ballast this weekend, the team is focused on reclaiming the nine points necessary to get back on top.
Pepe Oriola currently sits in sixth place in the drivers’ standings and needs a big weekend of points to help close in on the series’ leader. Thankfully, the young touring car driver knows the Italian circuit well, having scored a second place podium in his #74 SEAT Leon at Monza in 2015. Oriola will be chasing similar results this weekend but knows he has to make strides with the car and his qualifying performance. While Oriola may have been dissatisfied with the speed of his flying laps recently, he has always managed to find his pace during the race and bring home results. If the Spaniard can make the necessary changes for the Italian round, he could get his championship resurgence underway this weekend.
Hugo Valente will take to Monza for the very first time in his motorsport career and will need to do everything in his power to get himself prepared for Saturday’s qualifying session. Valente proved that he was able to adapt quickly to new circuits by taking two podium results in Bahrain; a feat that he is now looking to repeat at the famous Italian track. The Frenchman’s race pace has been on the mark all season and once Valente finds his qualifying form this weekend, he is sure to be a podium challenger and may be able to claim his first ever TCR International Series win.
James Nash returns to Monza for the first time since 2014 but it will be his first time running in the SEAT Leon. The #54 driver put in a solid performance at Spa to come away with some points but needs to deliver top results to make the jump from his ninth place spot in the drivers’ standings. With a more even playing field to contend with at Monza and the prior competitive experience gained from his time in a GT car, Nash should be able to get his championship campaign back on track in time for the season’s midpoint meeting at the Salzburgring in June.
Monza Schedule, GMT +2
Friday, 12 May 2017
11:20 - 11:50: FP1
13:55 - 14:25: FP2
Saturday, 13 May 2017
10:45 - 11:20: Qualifying
14:30 - 15:00: Race One
Sunday, 14 May 2017
10:50 - 11:20: Race Two
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“With the tough weekend at Spa last week, we need to come away with some strong results to put us back in the competition. Our qualifying performance is something that we need to work on, and the team has been focused on addressing this for the Monza round. We have had success here in the past and I am very confident that our drivers will be able to make good progress this weekend.”
Hugo Valente, #7
“Monza couldn't come any sooner! It's been a very tough weekend for us in Spa due to issues in qualifying, so I'm looking forward to showing that we've got the pace to be in front once again. Monza is one of the best circuits in the world, the motorsport culture, the speed and the history it has is very special. I have never driven there before so this is going to be a really exciting experience for me.”
James Nash, #54
“It will be my first time at Monza since racing in GTs there in 2014. The place hasn’t always been kind to me, but I hope that this weekend we will see that change. We need to bounce back after the disappointment of Spa and with a bit of luck to go along with the hard work that the whole team is putting in, I am sure that we will.”
Pepe Oriola, #74
“We need to find our problem in qualifying and work as a team together, because the performance in qualifying since Georgia has been a disaster. Monza won’t be our best track but let’s hope to get some good points anyway.”
- ENDS -
The pursuit of the 2017 TCR International Series title would not be possible without the support of LUKOIL, SEAT Sport, Gravity, P1 Autocare, Orangebus, Stand 21 and Team Dynamics.