Monza WEC: Toyota survives major scare to beat Alpine

Toyota survived a major scare to claim a third FIA World Endurance Championship victory of the 2021 season 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 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 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 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 FCY to recover debris from 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 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.

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 a number of times 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 cede.

Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi eventually finished second in the #31 WRT Oreca, just under a minute behind the winning United car.

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 drive-through 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 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. 

GTE: Estre, Jani hand Porsche win over Ferrari

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 Gianmaria 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 Ferrari 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 Nielsen and Alessio Rovera crossing the line 45 seconds clear of the opposition.

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

Ben Keating led the race from pole position 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 on his car 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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Race results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Laps Gap
1 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 204
2 36 Brazil Andre Negrao
France Nicolas Lapierre
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
Alpine A480 HYPERCAR 204 1'00.908
3 22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Switzerland Fabio Scherer
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
Oreca 07 LMP2 200 4 Laps
4 709 France Romain Dumas
France Franck Mailleux
United Kingdom Richard Westbrook
Glickenhaus 007 LMH HYPERCAR 200 4 Laps
5 31 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 LMP2 200 4 Laps
6 29 Netherlands Frits van Eerd
France Paul-Loup Chatin
Netherlands Nyck de Vries
Oreca 07 LMP2 200 4 Laps
7 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
Netherlands Renger van der Zande
United Kingdom Alex Brundle
Oreca 07 LMP2 199 5 Laps
8 28 Indonesia Sean Gelael
Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne
United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist
Oreca 07 LMP2 199 5 Laps
9 21 Sweden Henrik Hedman
Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya
United Kingdom Ben Hanley
Oreca 07 LMP2 199 5 Laps
10 70 Switzerland Esteban Garcia
France Loic Duval
France Norman Nato
Oreca 07 LMP2 198 6 Laps
11 1 Colombia Tatiana Calderon
Germany Sophia Flörsch
Oreca 07 LMP2 198 6 Laps
12 20 Denmark Jan Magnussen
Denmark Anders Fjordbach
Denmark Dennis Andersen
Oreca 07 LMP2 197 7 Laps
13 82 Ireland Ryan Cullen
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
Brazil Felipe Nasr
Oreca 07 LMP2 196 8 Laps
14 44 Slovakia Miro Konopka
United Kingdom Oliver Webb
Slovakia Matej Konopka
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 191 13 Laps
15 92 France Kevin Estre
Switzerland Neel Jani
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 190 14 Laps
16 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 190 14 Laps
17 91 Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Austria Richard Lietz
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 190 14 Laps
18 52 Brazil Daniel Serra
Spain Miguel Molina
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 190 14 Laps
19 83 France François Perrodo
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Italy Alessio Rovera
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 187 17 Laps
20 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Brazil Augusto Farfus
Brazil Marcos Gomes
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 187 17 Laps
21 777 Japan Satoshi Hoshino
Japan Tomonobu Fujii
United Kingdom Andrew Watson
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 187 17 Laps
22 56 Norway Egidio Perfetti
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Italy Riccardo Pera
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 187 17 Laps
23 77 Germany Christian Ried
Australia Jaxon Evans
Australia Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 186 18 Laps
24 88 Indonesia Andrew Haryanto
Germany Marco Seefried
Belgium Alessio Picariello
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 186 18 Laps
25 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 186 18 Laps
26 85 Switzerland Rahel Frey
Denmark Michelle Gatting
Belgium Sarah Bovy
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 185 19 Laps
27 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
United Kingdom Tom Gamble
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 185 19 Laps
28 61 Switzerland Christoph Ulrich
France Simon Mann
Finland Toni Vilander
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 185 19 Laps
29 47 Italy Roberto Lacorte
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Italy Antonio Fuoco
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 184 20 Laps
30 388 Germany Pierre Ehret
Germany Christian Hook
Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 184 20 Laps
31 46 Norway Dennis Olsen
Norway Anders Buchardt
United States Maxwell Root
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 183 21 Laps
32 33 United States Ben Keating
Dylan Pereira
Brazil Felipe Fraga
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 175 29 Laps
33 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 161 43 Laps
38 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Oreca 07 LMP2 127 77 Laps
708 Brazil Pipo Derani
United States Gustavo Menezes
France Olivier Pla
Glickenhaus 007 LMH HYPERCAR 90 114 Laps
60 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Andrea Piccini
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 37 167 Laps
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