Tom Sharp produced a strong display in front of a passionate Italian crowd this past weekend (01-03 September) as he fought to a third consecutive points finish in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup during the penultimate meeting of the season at Monza.
Sharp and his family IDL Racing team headed to the iconic circuit off the back of a promising double points finish at Spa-Francorchamps a week prior, with their preparations for their first race outing at Monza aided by an official two-day championship test at the circuit last month.
Friday’s 45 minute practice session allowed Sharp to get reacquainted with the track and crucially work on the car’s set-up ahead of qualifying, and whilst the final practice timesheets don’t usually hold much importance heading into the race weekend, that wouldn’t be the case this time out.
A dramatic change in weather conditions would see torrential rainfall across the circuit on Saturday, with the conditions ultimately deemed unsafe for the drivers in their 485hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, leading to the cancellation of the session before a wheel was turned in anger.
That meant the unusual situation arose of the practice times setting the grid for Sunday’s race, meaning Sharp therefore lined up 22nd on the grid for the fourteen lap encounter, which would take place in front of a huge tifosi crowd under glorious Italian sunshine.
A dramatic start to the race would see cars spun sideways ahead of Sharp at the first chicane, with the Camberley racer ending up almost stationary as he worked his way around the stricken cars before continuing in the same position at which he started.
Following a short safety car period, the IDL, Dome Group, Mardix Group, Lloret, GBE, Aapex Wealth Management and Fireclad Limited supported driver would immediately start to make forwards progress, climbing into the top twenty on the first lap after the restart.
The 26 year old would remain in the thick of the action throughout the rest of an action-packed encounter, with some intelligent driving seeing him keep his nose clean and work his way through to a strong sixteenth place at the finish.
The championship now heads into an eight week break ahead of the final meeting of the season, which will see Sharp compete in South America for the first time as he races in support of the Mexican F1 Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City.
Tom Sharp: “It was a real shame to miss the qualifying session, especially as in the rain it would have been a big opportunity for us to get ourselves up the order, but it was definitely unsafe to go out and the right decision was made to cancel the session.
“Starting back in P23 meant it was another tough race for us, but as was the case at Spa last week it was quite an eventful race, so we managed to pick up a few spots along the way and I’m pleased to have come away with another points finish.
“We have a break now before we head to the final round in Mexico, which is a really exciting opportunity for us, so we will be making every effort to maximise our time before then and ensure we’re at peak performance so we can end the season on a high.”
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo. Porsche AG/Hoch Zwei