24h Le Mans
FIA WEC – Toyota wins the 2021 6 Hours of Monza
For the third time this season, the Toyota GR010 Hybrid has claimed the top step on overall podium, despite a complicated race, heavy opposition from Alpine and an excellent pace for the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus.
At noon on Sunday, the temple of speed at Monza (hallowed ground in motorsport) hosted the FIA World Endurance Championship. At the head of the starting grid were the two Toyotas, with the #7 GR010 Hybrid as pole-sitter. The first turns went smoothly as drivers knew the first few seconds at Monza can be brutal.
Toyota did not enjoy total domination, however. The #8 GR010 Hybrid of Brendon Hartley, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima endured several instances of loss of power throughout the race. Having slowed on the track and returned to the pits, the car finished in last place in the Hypercar class. The #7 fared better, winning the round thanks to Mike Conway, José María López and Kamui Kobayashi, their first of the season. But even their hybrid experienced problems. Two hours from the checkered flag, Kobayashi stopped on the track and had to execute a complete restart.
Alpine took advantage of Toyota's setbacks and several safety car deployments or race neutralisations to slip into second place. This rehearsal before the 24 Hours of Le Mans shows the Japanese manufacturer will need to be on top of its game to pull off a fourth consecutive win.
The SCG 007 LMH proved remarkably fast, with American team Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus even taking the lead for a brief period at Monza. After qualifying successfully and a good race start, the red and white cars did encounter several problems: it was necessary to change the #709's tires and the #708 was forced to retire with transmission troubles.
The safety car allowed United Autosports to take the lead in LMP2, with the team claiming the top step on the class podium, and third place overall, finishing a full second ahead of Team WRT's #31 ORECA 07-Gibson. Racing Team Nederland finished third thanks to stellar trio Frits van Eerd, Nyck de Vries and Paul-Loup Chatin.
In LMGTE Pro, victory was up for grabs until the final moments and the face-off between Porsche and Ferrari did not disappoint. The Italian marque even took a gamble not pitting the #51 488 GTE Evo during a Full Course Yellow. The decision gave Alessandro Pier Guidi the opportunity to chase down Kévin Estre in the Porsche 911 RSR-19 in the last laps. The risk failed to pay off though and the Italian car was forced to refuel two minutes from the finish line, leaving the win to Porsche.
The #83 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo triumphed in the LMGTE Am class as it had at Spa-Francorchamps. François Perrodo, Alessio Rovera and Nicklas Nielsen pulled off the win despite starting from the back of the field following a technical regulations violation. Two Aston Martin Vantage AMRs rounded out the podium, the #98 of NorthWest AMR ahead of the #777 of D’station Racing. Ben Keating, who had led part of the race in an Aston Martin entered by TF Sport, suffered a high speed flat tire, depriving him of victory.