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ONE HOT LAP' with Ulf Granberg in a 240 Turbo Group A
Written by Angus MacKenzie - Editor, Wheels magazine, Australia.
Reprint permission granted. Contributed by Anthony Hyde


MONZA Race Circuit - Italy 1986

We flashed past Monza's pit lane. The tacho's showing 7,000 rpm, the turbo boost gauge is reading 1.4 bar (20.5 psi). That means over 250 km/h and we've just shot past the 200 metre braking marker at the first chicane. Not 10 minutes earlier European Touring Car Champion Thomas Lindstrom had driven slowly around the fast 5.8 km Monza circuit and carefully explained the breaking and gearchange points. "Keep right and brake at 200 metres," he said as we dawdled into Monza's first chicane in Volvo 740 Turbo Estate. So even as team-mate Ulf Granberg, now chauffeuring me in the works Volvo 240T Group A race car, finally mashed the brake pedal at the 150 metre mark, I knew he was having a big go.

The full harness bites into my shoulders as the Volvo squirms under brakes. Bam! Bam! Bam! Granberg heels and toes back to second gear with machine gun rapidity, swinging the suede covered Momo steering wheel hard left into the first part of the chicane.

Even as we bounce off the kerbing, Granberg dabs at the throttle and throws the Volvo to the right, up and over the kerb. Suddenly the 240T spits sideways - simultaneously Granberg grabs an armful of opposite lock and boots the accelerator. He brings the car back onto line by the scruff of its neck.

We jumped the kerbs again on the second left-right kink of the chicane then on the gas hard - third, fourth, fifth - into the Curva Grande. He feathers the throttle through the long sweeping right hander, the Volvo's inside wheels lifting as we delicately walk the tight-rope between under and oversteer.

Past the clipping point and hard on the throttle again as we scream down toward the second chicane. Granberg stands on the brakes as we flash under the Campari bridge, rapid fire again back to second gear as he steadies the Volvo for the single left-right flick ahead.

We bounce the kerbs again and it's full-bore into the double apex Curve di Lesmo. We charge through the first Lesmo flat in third, then Granberg grabs fourth as we slide up onto the kerbing in readiness for the second Lesmo.

Again the Volvo corkscrews as the outside tyres bite and the inside wheels lift clear of the tarmac. We run wide up onto the kerbing again - "You must use all the track" as Granberg grabs fifth through the gentle left hand kink on the run down to the Variante Ascari.

We're flat in fifth as the track dips under Monza's huge banked oval. The Variante Ascari, named after the great Italian World Champion killed there while testing in 1955, is the fastest of Monza's three chicanes. Granberg hauls the Volvo back from just on 250 km/h and downshifts twice. We're over the kerb on the first left hander but the left hand wheels are in the air so there's no shock through the suspension. A stab on the throttle and then through the next right-left wiggle, Granberg sawing at the wheel as the car drifts from kerb to kerb.

Full bore, full boost and 340 bhp hurls us down the short straight towards the Parabolica. It's tight, deceptively tight - at first we seem to be travelling way too quickly - but Granberg clips the inside kerb clearly and lets the Volvo run wide for the run onto the main straight. Get the Parabolica right and you'll be quick all the way down the main straight. Get it wrong... The brilliant Austrian Jochen Rindt died here in his Lotus in 1970. He was posthumously awarded the World Championship.

Granberg brings the Volvo into the pit lane at a brisk clip. The stop watches confirm we've lapped within a second or two of race pace. Full face helmets, the brap-brap of the exhaust and the howl of the drive train make conversation impossible, but Granberg, the Swedish train driver who led yesterday's first round of the European Touring Car Championship until a head gasket blew on the Volvo, turns and lifts his eyebrow quizzically. My thumbs up sign is returned with a nod. END.
 

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