Matty Graham AVF


Matty gets his 2014 season under way this weekend when he heads to the Autodromo Internazionale di Monza, in Northern Italy, for the first round of this year’s Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup.

Lining up alongside 31 other competitors, Matty and his AVF team will be looking to build on the impressive form they demonstrated at the final pre-season test at the end of March and deliver a strong opening result around the home of the Formula One Italian Grand Prix.

A fearsomely fast track located some 13 miles to the north of Milan, Monza was built in the 1920s with the current configuration introduced in 2000 and is a lap made up of long fast straights and 11 corners of varying styles.

After crossing the start finish line, cars charge towards the left/right of the Variante Rettifilo at full speed before breaking heavily to make the turn.

A clean exit is required in order to accelerate cleanly through the long sweeping Curva Grande which brings the cars to the second, heavy breaking chicane, Variante della Roggia, widely regarded as one of the best overtaking opportunities of the lap.

Powering away, from the left/right flick, the two Lesmo corners are the next challenge. Both quick right handers, Lesmo 1 is slightly banked and has a blind entry before feeding the drivers into the slightly faster Lesmo 2.

The Lesmo corners are critical in a race as mistakes often result in a spin, or being passed on the run down to the Ascari Chicane.

After another long straight, the tricky Variante Ascari is where fast lap times can be made or ruined. Bumpy on the approach, the sweeping left right left sequence is a flowing part of the track that should play to the strengths of Matty’s driving style.

From here the lap is almost complete with only the long Curva Parabollica remaining to be faced.  A long 180 degree corner, bravery through it can set a driver up for an effective slipstream down the pit straight and an overtaking opportunity on the next pass through Rettifilo.

While it is a track Matty has never raced on, the unique nature of the challenge it presents is something he is looking forward to.

Matty said: ““I’ve never been there before, but I’m well aware of what the circuit is about.  It is supremely fast with long straights followed by slow corners with heavy breaking areas before them, which is something I’m usually good at.”

“There are also some corners, like the fast Ascari chicane, where if you commit to them you can steal some vital time and I can’t wait to give that ago.  We have all been fairly close in pre-season, so we have the promise of some really competitive and entertaining racing this weekend.”

The action gets under way on Friday with two 45 minute practice sessions and two 20 minute qualifying sessions.

On Saturday, Matty’s first race of 2014 gets under way at 13:05 UK time (14:05 local) before the final race of the race takes place on Sunday morning at 08:55 UK time (09:55 local).  Both of these races can be watched via the NEC’s YouTube channel which can be found at www.formularenault.tv