Tom Sharp was one of a number of drivers to succumb to dramatic late punctures as he cruelly saw a positive showing in the penultimate round of the 2018 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup go unrewarded at Monza this past weekend (01/02 September).
The annual visit to the Italian venue provided Sharp and his family IDL Racing team with the chance to race in front of the ‘tifosi’, some of the most passionate fans in motorsport, and Sharp was eager to put on a show as he bounced back from an incident at Spa-Francorchamps a week prior.
The Surrey racer got reacquainted with the high-speed Monza circuit in wet conditions during official practice on Friday, before making a huge stride forward in pace during a dry qualifying session the next day as a best effort of 1m 51.115s secured him twentieth on the grid.
Sharp carried that momentum into the start of the race, with a strong early run seeing him battle his way up the order to seventeenth place, which put him firmly in position to challenge for the top fifteen and a potential return to the Supercup points.
The Camberley based racer would see his charge come to a sudden conclusion with three laps to go though, as his left rear tyre dramatically punctured as he braked for the first chicane from over 110mph at the end of the long, flat-out main straight.
The Dome Group, Anord Mardix, Lloret, GBE Services and Aapex Wealth Management backed driver was fortunately able to maintain control of his vehicle and bring it to a safe halt, before watching on as at least four other drivers also suffered high-speed tyre failures in the final laps.
Following a cruel end to a hugely promising race, Sharp and the IDL Racing team will now regroup and prepare for the double-header season finale in eight weeks’ time at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico (26-28 October).
Tom Sharp: “Unfortunately it’s now been back-to-back weekends in which we’ve seen potentially strong results taken away by issues outside of our control, which is hugely frustrating with the positive steps we’ve made with the car recently.
“Friday practice is always tricky with limited track time to get to grips with the circuit again and get the set-up perfected for the car, but some hard work from the team put us in a good position for qualifying and we over halved our deficit to the leaders in that session.
“Twentieth was still lower than we’d have liked to have qualified, but I was able to get stuck in during the race and make some good overtaking moves as I gained some ground. The car was feeling fast and I was really enjoying the race.
“To then suffer a tyre blowout at such a heavy braking zone was pretty scary and we were incredibly lucky to come away with no major damage to the car, as I could have easily been pitched into the barriers at high speed.
“Our focus now is on making sure we can bring the 2018 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup season to an end on a high in Mexico. We had some great pace there last season and hopefully I can build on that and enjoy a strong pair of races.”
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo. Porsche