Monza WEC: Toyota survives scare to claim third 2021 win

Toyota survived a major scare to claim a third World Endurance Championship victory of 2021 at Monza ahead of Signatech Alpine, as United Autosports finished on the overall podium.

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez led from pole position in the #7 GR010 Hybrid and were untroubled for most of the race, as neither Alpine nor Glickenhaus were able to challenge the two Toyotas on race pace.

But there was drama at the beginning of the penultimate hour when Kobayashi crawled to a halt on the long straight following the second Lesmo corner with a suspected technical problem, allowing the #709 Glickenhaus 007 LMH-Pipo of Romain Dumas to come through and take the lead.

Kobayashi eventually managed to restart the car and get going again, but rejoined the track 40s behind the Glickenhaus.

There was a reprieve for Toyota when the American boutique manufacturer elected to bring the car into the garage for a precautionary brake change, but the Alpine - which had dropped to third after making an earlier stop - remained in contention for victory.

The race was set to go down to the wire as Conway needed to make a late splash and dash to ensure the #7 GR010 could make it to the finish line.

But a late full course yellow to recover debris from the track put paid to the chances of a late scrap for victory between Toyota and Alpine, Conway essentially earning a free stop and emerging from the pits with the best part of a minute ahead of Matthieu Vaxiviere.

An investigation into Toyota’s final pitstop had the potential to throw a spanner in the works, but the manufacturer was able to get away with a warning, ensuring it continued its unbeaten run in the Hypercar era as the #7 crew claimed its first win of 2021.

Vaxiviere, Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao finished second in the #36 Alpine, earning the French manufacturer its joint-best result since it stepped up to the top class of the WEC with the grandfathered A480-Gibson that was previously campaigned by the Rebellion LMP1 team.

#22 United Autosports USA Oreca 07 - Gibson: Philip Hanson, Fabio Scherer, Filipe Albuquerque

#22 United Autosports USA Oreca 07 - Gibson: Philip Hanson, Fabio Scherer, Filipe Albuquerque

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The #709 Glickenhaus of Dumas, Richard Westbrook and Franck Mailleux eventually finished third in class and fourth overall after losing a number of laps in the pits due to a brake change.

The sister #708 entry driven by Pipo Derani, Gustavo Menezes and Olivier Pla was running on seven cylinders and had to pit for a change of spark plug before eventually retiring from the race.

The #8 Toyota of Brendon Hartley, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi was classified 43 laps down in fourth in the Hypercar class after having to make four trips to the garage with multiple technical gremlins, including for a fuel pressure issue.

Technical issues or retirements for all but the Alpine meant an LMP2 car finished on the overall podium for the first time since last year’s season finale in Bahrain, where only two cars were entered in the top class.

It was United Autosports that seized the opportunity, beating the WRT team that started on pole position.

The lead changed hands on a number of occasions but an ill-timed pitstop before a FCY by WRT proved to be decisive, granting the #22 crew of Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Fabio Scherer an advantage they wouldn’t concede.

Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi eventually finished second in the #31 WRT ORECA, just under a minute behind the class-winning machine.

Nyck de Vries, Frits van Eerd and Paul Loup Chatin finished third in the #29 Racing Team Nederland ORECA, claiming the Pro-Am honours in the process. The Dutch team ran with a heavily-revised line-up at Monza after both Giedo van der Garde and Job van Uitert tested positive for COVID-19.

Inter Europol Competition finished fourth in the #34 ORECA driven by Alex Brundle, Renger van der Zande and Jakub Smiechowski despite a drivethrough penalty for causing a collision with the #70 RealTeam ORECA in the opening 30 minutes of the race.

The #28 JOTA trio of Stoffel Vandoorne, Sean Gelael and Tom Blomqvist recovered from a crash in qualifying to finish fifth.

Risi Competizione’s preparatory appearance for the Le Mans 24 Hours ended in disappointment as Oliver Jarvis, Felipe Nasr and Ryan Cullen finished 10th in the #82 ORECA after running inside the top five early on in the race.

#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR - 19: Kevin Estre, Neel Jani,

#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR - 19: Kevin Estre, Neel Jani,

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Porsche denied Ferrari a GTE Pro victory on the Italian marque’s home turf, with Kevin Estre and Neel Jani scoring their second win of the season in the #92 911 RSR-19.

Porsche lost the lead during the third hour when Jani was overtaken by James Calado in the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo at the exit of the first chicane, but a faster pitstop allowed it to return to the front and then cruise to a comfortable win.

Estre and Jani eventually crossed the line 32s clear of Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, who had to pit with five minutes to run for a fuel-only stop.

Richard Lietz and Gianmarina Bruni took the final spot on the podium in the #91 Porsche ahead of #52 Ferrari duo Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra, after Lietz passed Molina under braking into Turn 1 in the penultimate hour.

That was despite Bruni picking up visible damage on to the front-left side of his car when he hit the #47 Cetilar ORECA LMP2 car of Roberto Lacorte, who spun in front of him at the exit of the second Lesmo in a repeat of Vandoorne’s crash that brought qualifying to a halt on Saturday.

Despite their disappointment in the GTE Pro class, AF Corse and Ferrari did claim victory in the GTE Am category, with Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Jensen and Alessio Rovera crossing the line 45s clear of the opposition in the #83 488 EVO.

The battle for second was decided on the final lap, as the #98 Aston Martin trio of Augusto Farfus, Paul Dalla Lana and Marcos Gomes beat the customer #777 D’station Vantage of Tomonobu Fujii, Satoshi Hoshino and Andrew Watson.

Ben Keating led the race from pole in the #33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage but paid the price of extending his second stint beyond the expected tyre life, the front-left Michelin spectacularly exploding at high-speed and shredding bodywork on his car. The debris thrown on track prompted the only safety car appearance of the race.

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Result

Cla Drivers Laps Time Gap Points
1 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
204 -    
2 Brazil Andre Negrao
France Nicolas Lapierre
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
204 1'00.908 1'00.908  
3 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Switzerland Fabio Scherer
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
200 4 laps    
4 France Romain Dumas
France Franck Mailleux
United Kingdom Richard Westbrook
200 28.310 4 Laps  
5 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Charles Milesi
200 57.696 4 Laps  
6 Netherlands Frits van Eerd
France Paul-Loup Chatin
Netherlands Nyck de Vries
200 1'22.909 4 Laps  
7 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
Netherlands Renger van der Zande
United Kingdom Alex Brundle
199 5 laps    
8 Indonesia Sean Gelael
Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne
United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist
199 12.482 5 Laps  
9 Sweden Henrik Hedman
Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya
United Kingdom Ben Hanley
199 36.459 5 Laps  
10 Switzerland Esteban Garcia
France Loic Duval
France Norman Nato
198 6 laps    
11 Colombia Tatiana Calderon
Germany Sophia Flörsch
198 1'02.189 6 Laps  
12 Denmark Jan Magnussen
Denmark Anders Fjordbach
Denmark Dennis Andersen
197 7 laps    
13 Ireland Ryan Cullen
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
Brazil Felipe Nasr
196 8 laps    
14 Slovakia Miro Konopka
United Kingdom Oliver Webb
Slovakia Matej Konopka
191 13 laps    
15 France Kevin Estre
Switzerland Neel Jani
190 14 laps    
16 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
190 32.103 14 Laps  
17 Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Austria Richard Lietz
190 51.146 14 Laps  
18 Brazil Daniel Serra
Spain Miguel Molina
190 54.571 14 Laps  
19 France François Perrodo
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Italy Alessio Rovera
187 17 laps    
20 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Brazil Augusto Farfus
Brazil Marcos Gomes
187 44.047 17 Laps  
21 Japan Satoshi Hoshino
Japan Tomonobu Fujii
United Kingdom Andrew Watson
187 44.846 17 Laps  
22 Norway Egidio Perfetti
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Italy Riccardo Pera
187 1'02.596 17 Laps  
23 Germany Christian Ried
Australia Jaxon Evans
Australia Matt Campbell
186 18 laps    
24 Indonesia Andrew Haryanto
Germany Marco Seefried
Belgium Alessio Picariello
186 26.445 18 Laps  
25 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
186 31.349 18 Laps  
26 Switzerland Rahel Frey
Denmark Michelle Gatting
Belgium Sarah Bovy
185 19 laps    
27 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
United Kingdom Tom Gamble
185 15.172 19 Laps  
28 Switzerland Christoph Ulrich
France Simon Mann
Finland Toni Vilander
185 1'09.125 19 Laps  
29 Italy Roberto Lacorte
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Italy Antonio Fuoco
184 20 laps    
30 Germany Pierre Ehret
Germany Christian Hook
Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen
184 38.942 20 Laps  
31 Norway Dennis Olsen
Norway Anders Buchardt
United States Maxwell Root
183 21 laps    
32 United States Ben Keating
Dylan Pereira
Brazil Felipe Fraga
175 29 laps    
33 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
161 43 laps    
34 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
127 77 laps    
35 Brazil Pipo Derani
United States Gustavo Menezes
France Olivier Pla
90 113 laps    
36 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Andrea Piccini
Italy Matteo Cressoni
37 166 laps    
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