International GT Open – Monza, Italy
Race One: Qualified 6th GTS/ 14th Overall Finished 4th GTS/ 13th Overall
Race Two: Qualified 2nd GTS/ 9th Overall Finished 2nd GTS/ 9th Overall
21 year old Archie Hamilton from Basingstoke had a challenging weekend from the start following a big crash at the start of the second practice session on Friday. The car was seriously damaged and the team built up a new car at its nearby workshop overnight in readiness for qualifying on Saturday.
Needing to take care, Archie’s qualifying was essentially an installation session but he still set a respectable time that was good enough to put him fifth in class for the first race. His team-mate Marco Mapelli qualified second for race two.
Saturday’s race one was held in mixed conditions with cars starting on wets but switching to slicks at the mid-point stops. With five minutes of the race remaining rain started again leading to challenging conditions for the teams. Archie and Marco had more to contend with; having worked their way through the pack to take the class lead, with just eight minutes remaining of the 70 minute race, Marco suffered a puncture following contact with a back-marker. A quick additional pit-stop cost time but Marco was still able to finish in the points in fourth position.
Race two today was conversely completely dry and a much more straightforward affair for the first half of the race. Marco drove the first stint, starting in second and taking the GTS lead on lap eight when he got a run on Gattuso’s Ferrari. With the race ‘success’ handicaps falling in Archie’s favour, Archie easily maintained the lead after the duo’s stop and was ahead of Michael Dalle Stelle. The gap was closing however, partly down to the car having issues as Archie left the pitlane; the power steering failed in addition to the dash lights including the gear indicators leaving Archie to judge when to change gear. Championship leader Bizzarri suffered a puncture with six minutes remaining while in third place which worked in the Autorlando team’s favour but with three laps to go it was Archie’s turn and a puncture to the front left tyre threatened to ruin the team’s immense efforts over the weekend. Archie held on and instead of pitting managed to nurse the car home, losing only one place.
Archie and Marco now lie in second place in the championship, having reduced the gap from eight to six points behind the leaders.
“This weekend has been incredible for all the wrong reasons. I had a bad crash when I hit oil on Friday and the team had to do a major job to get us ready for Saturday. I can’t thank them enough. It felt as though everything was lost including the championship so today’s second feels like a huge win. All the time I’ve spent in the gym has paid off – I’ve never had to work so hard. I’m confident of going to Barcelona and winning the title. I’m going to work hard to make sure we do. ”
1. Zampieri/Dalle Stelle 76, 3. Stefano Bizzarri 71, 3. Hamilton/Mapelli 70, 4. Rizzoli 53, 5. Puglisi/Beretta 43, 6. Bontempelli 25.
Archie’s final GT Open races are at Barcelona, Spain on 3/4th Nov.