Alpine Wins Epic Monza Battle; Corvette Take Last Gasp LMGTE Pro Triumph
Full report at the culmination of the 6 Hours of Monza, round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship...
Alpine Team ELF took a memorable victory at the 6 Hours of Monza today to seal its second victory of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship season.
In challenging hot and sunny conditions Andre Negrao, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Nicolas Lapierre duelled with the pair of Toyota Gazoo Racing Hypercars in the second phase of the race to emerge victorious.
The hard-earned victory, which was clinched by just 2.782s over the No.8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar, included some thrilling wheel-to-wheel battles that had the large crowd on its feet.
One of the crucial moments of the race came in the fifth hour when Matthieu Vaxiviere and Kamui Kobayashi were duelling for the lead on the main straight at 300 kph. A touch between the two saw the Toyota suffer a puncture and damaged bodywork a limp back to the pits. That disappointment was compounded by a 90-second stop/go penalty for the incident, which ensured it slipped back to a third placed finish.
It gave the Alpine a relatively clear run to the chequered flag although Vaxiviere had to watch his mirrors carefully as Ryo Hirakawa mounted a late charge for the lead.
But the Japanese racer was unable to launch a full challenge and the Alpine trio were able to stretch their championship points lead to 10-points.
The Glickenhaus Racing squad took a famous pole position ahead of the race and looked to have put themselves in with a strong chance of a victory charge when the 007LMH Hypercar lead for the first half of the race.
Their chances though ended in the fourth hour when after serving a penalty for a full course yellow violation, Olivier Pla suffered a rare turbo problem and was forced to park the distinctive Hypercar.
Peugeot TotalEnergies took a fourth placed finish with Loic Duval, James Rossiter and Gustavo Menezes in the sensational Peugeot 9X8 designs world debut.
The sister No.93 9X8 driven by Jean-Eric Vergne, Mikkel Jensen and Paul di Resta stopped in the first hour but after being worked on returned to action but was eventually retired.
There was drama throughout the categories with Corvette Racing pulling off a superb fuel saving strategy to beat Ferrari on their home soil.
Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner drove faultless races in the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R but appeared to be heading for a close second place after the AF Corse entered Ferrari 488 GTE Evos controlled the LMGTE Pro class for all bar the final few laps.
The No.52 Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco crewed entry led until the penultimate lap before it has to make a splash and dash fuel stop.
Corvette though had played a strategic masterstroke as Tandy completed a fuel saving masterclass to manage his pace and surprise everyone with a finely judged last stint economy run. It ensured that Corvette took its first non-Le Mans WEC and the first for the C8.R outside of the US.
AF Corse Ferrari completed the podium with the No.52 car heading home the No.51 James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi entry, which was involved in a spectacular battle with the No.92 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR-19 driven by Kevin Estre in the closing stages.
The multiple contacts between the two resulted in Estre receiving a drive-through penalty for several incidents, including one with the No.28 JOTA LMP2 entry.
Realteam by WRT celebrated its first ever LMP2 victory as Ferdinand Habsburg, Rui Andrade and Norman Nato jumped the No.38 JOTA car of Will Stevens, Antonio Felix da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez at the final scheduled stop.
With fresher tyres Habsburg was able to open up a decisive gap to ensure a popular victory for the Swiss entered squad.
The Vector Sport team clinched the final step of the podium as the 2022 WEC rookie entry had its most competitive showing so far. Nico Mueller brought the car home after prior strong stints at the wheel from Ryan Cullen and Sebastien Bourdais.
Dempsey Proton Porsche took the LMGTE Am honours as Harry Tincknell converted a late ‘splash and dash’ strategy to defeat the pole winning Iron Dames Ferrari trio of Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey.
The Iron Dames were among the stars of Monza as they lead the LMGTE Am category for a large chunk of the race but ultimately had to settle for second. It was though their best ever WEC finish and the first time ever that an all-female crewed entry stood on a WEC podium.
Henrique Chaves emerged unhurt from a spectacular accident halfway through the race when his LMGTE Am TF Sport Aston Martin rolled after hitting a kerb at the Variante Roggia chicane.
The fifth round of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship will take place at Fuji Speedway on Sunday September 11.
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