Season Finale at the Temple of Speed

Posted by Trevor Sanna March 4, 2022 in LeagueRoad

On March 1st, 2022, at 9:30pm EST two LunatiK road drivers Luke Davis and Collin McKenzie looked to finish their season in the Precision Racing League GT3 Amateur Championship. Both drivers came to the final race with special liveries dedicated to amazing people of Ukraine during these challenging times. Both cars were draped in Ukraine’s yellow and blue and a Ukrainian flag on the rear of the car where an American one once stood. Just north of Milan, Italy is one of the most historic racing tracks in the world the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. A favorite on the calendar each year for its long fast straights and slow chicanes makes this track one of a kind. 

Davis enters the last race of the season in 4th place in the driver’s championship, with a strong performance here and some luck on his side a 3rd place is viable. McKenzie comes in tied for 7th and 8th position and looked to finish the season with a strong result for the team. LunatiK is currently sitting in 4th place with a chance to move into 3rd with some strong performances and also a bit of luck would help. Qualifying came and championship leader Jonathon Wager took pole position once again with a 1:47.213. Quoc Ninh who was battling Davis for 3rd position overall took 2nd position with a 1:47.799. McKenzie was finally able to get something going in qualifying and put down a solid 1:48.049 which was good enough for 5th position. Davis struggled to get everything to line up but was still able to put in a 1:48.184 which put him in 7th position. 

#15 McKenzie running in 5th place on lap 3.

The field lined up on the grid with Wager having control of the field as the pace car started to lead them to the start of the race. The pace car dove into the pit entry and Wager held his pace for a decent period of time before slamming on the accelerator taking off. The field barreled down into the notorious turn 1 chicane of Monza. A clean start for the top 10 as McKenzie and Davis both held their respective positions through the first turn. With a relatively easy lap 1 without the top 10 changing positions the cars came down the main straight at full speed heading into the hard braking zone that lies ahead. McKenzie was about a second off of p4 but was still able to hold in the draft as his tires started to warm up. His goal as the 4 other cars ahead of him were all within a second of each other was to just stay within the pack and save fuel. Davis was following Tzanidakis who was in 6th position but started falling off of McKenzie in front falling out of draft which started to separate the pack he was in for a little bit. Nick McLaughlin was able to pass Davis after having a bad exit on a turn but was still right with him and Tzanidakis who started to battle with each other. Heading down the main straight into turn 1 they were both side by side in front of Davis who was making sure there wasn’t going to be an accident in front of him missed his braking zone by a margin and decided to take the escape road through the first chicane which gave him close to a 5 second slow down penalty. 

#72 Davis uses escape road on the first chicane.

This lead to Davis having to give up time to deal with the slowdown but he was still able to hold onto the top 10. With the race almost half over Pabellano who was running in 4th in front of McKenzie started to fight with Horvath in 3rd which let Ninh start to walk away out of draft. This led to the two of them and McKenzie in a group battling each other while the leaders started to create a larger gap. Positions traded back and forth between the three as McKenzie was content with just staying in draft until the opportunity came for him to break free of the two of them. 

#15 McKenzie fighting with #32 Devan Horvath. 

McKenzie took the lead of the pack and started to pull away a little but ended up having a tough exit after the first chicane which slowed him up and saw Horvath resume the lead with Pabellano behind. The impatient Pabellano tried to make a dive on the inside of McKenzie in Lesmo 2 which made contact and took both drivers out of the draft of Horvath as they headed down the straight towards Ascari. Pabellano behind McKenzie once again made contact with him twice in two corners which saw McKenzie have to miss the chicane and drive across the gravel as he was not going to make the corner with the contact. This gave McKenzie a slowdown penalty which let Horvath run even further away from the two of them. McKenzie ended up pitting and missed his pit box being frustrated with the last couple of corners which costed him more time. Luckily, he was able to come out of the pit stop in fresh air without any lap traffic. This moved Davis into 6th place as he was working his way back through the pack. 

#72 Davis in 6th place before his pit stop. 

Davis continued to run in the pack he was with changing positions here and there, but all grouped together until about 12 minutes left in the race when the group of them came in for pit stops. McKenzie who was running in p14 at the time started to make up some ground to see where he could finish. McKenzie came around the last corner headed down the straight as Pabellano and Tzanidakis were coming out of the pits. Horvath has too much of a lead to and was long gone. McKenzie fell behind Pabellano and Tzanidakis with Davis coming out just a couple cars behind. McKenzie knew that the two of them would start fighting each other at some point as  he just stayed slightly behind them and capitalized on their mistakes. He did not have to wait long as two laps later the two of them started going at it with McKenzie able to make the pass on Pabellano and trailing Tzanidakis. Coming out of the Ascari chicane Pabellano clipped the grass which sent him across the track headfirst into the barrier effectively ending his changes in a top 5 finish. This left McKenzie to hunt down Tzanidakis with Davis just two positions behind him. 

#72 Davis following #15 McKenzie trying to stay in draft. 

With 5 minutes left in the race McKenzie got a good exit out of the Ascari Chicane which let him go side by side with Tzanidakis heading into the Parobolica turn. McKenzie on the outside and Tzanidakis on the inside made contact as it looked like Tzanidakis over cooked the brakes and did not turn in when McKenzie thought he would. McKenzie was able to keep the car on track but lost a position to Fonseca as Tzanidakis spun out.  This put Davis right behind McKenzie. With 5 minutes left to go in the race McKenzie was on the hunt for 5th position trying to take on Fonseca in his Mclaren. On the white flag lap he made the pass into the first chicane and was able to hold on for the remainder of the race to take home 5th position. Davis who needed a 5th position or better to secure 3rd place in the drivers championship just fell short of McKenzie and Fonseca with a couple laps left in the race and was not able to hold on and finished in 7th place. 

#15 McKenzie holding onto 5th with a charging #13 Fonseca.

With the 5th and 7th place finish both drivers had a solid result for the final race of the season. Both feel as if they could have done better but with what happened during the race were happy with their results. With the 7th place finish this kept Davis in the 4th position for the drivers’ championship with Ninh just edging him out. With 5th place McKenzie took sole control of the 6th spot in the championship which he was happy with after some of the results this past season. LunatiK unfortunately held onto the 4th position in the team championship, which both drivers weren’t that happy with knowing they could have done more. 

This concludes the Precision Racing League’s GT3 Amateur Championship that saw LunatiK makes its debut in this season. Both drivers Davis and McKenzie will be back for the next season of PRL’s GT3 league that starts towards the end of March. They will be joined by more LunatiK drivers hopefully fielding two teams this coming season. Davis had this to say about the season, “I’m very happy with the outcome of my first season in a competitive league. I learned a lot about race craft, race management, and I’ve identified a few areas of weakness that I hope to fix heading into Season 2 of the PRL.” McKenzie when also asked how he felt about the season had this to say. “I think that for where Luke and I first started this season to where we are now are totally different. This was Luke’s first real competitive league and his growth was absolutely amazing to watch. I have enjoyed running with him this season and hope he has learned as much from me as I have from him. I am excited for season 2 and continuing to grow.”  Thank you to all of our supporters and especially our partners Martin Sports and Indy Autosport for their continued support! This is the last article of this series but we will be back soon enough with a preview of what is to come.