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Lopez Narrowly Beats Toyota Teammate Hartley to Monza Pole

Lopez beats Hartley to pole as Toyota claims front-row lockout for 6H Monza…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Jose Maria Lopez beat his Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Brendon Hartley to pole position for the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Monza.

After topping all three practice sessions, Lopez narrowly undercut Hartley’s provisional pole time by 0.062 seconds to lead Saturday evening’s 10-minute qualifying session.

The Argentine driver, who shares the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway, abandoned his first flying lap when he locked up at the Turn 1 braking zone before taking to the emergency run-off.

This meant that Lopez only entered the frame during the second half of the session, while Pipo Derani took an early lead in the No. 708 Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH.

Hartley’s second lap saw the No. 8 Toyota hit the front, while the New Zealander’s 1:35.961 effort stood as the benchmark until Lopez came through on a 1:35.899 with three minutes to go, separating the Toyotas less than a tenth.

The prototype session, which included both Hypercar and LMP2 machinery, was then red-flagged with just under three minutes remaining when Stoffel Vandoorne crashed the No. 28 JOTA Oreca 07 Gibson after losing control at the exit of the second Lesmo.

At the time of the stoppage, Lopez led from Hartley and Nicolas Lapierre who had moved the Alpine A480 Gibson LMP1 above the two Glickenhaus LMHs with a time of 1:36.121.

When qualifying resumed with just over two minutes to go, Toyota elected not to return to the track as a tire-saving measure for Sunday’s race and watched Lapierre as the Frenchman went in search of a better time.

Lapierre ultimately failed to improve, leaving Alpine Endurance Team in third and two-tenths off the pole as Toyota clinched its second front-row lockout of the year.

Derani used the post-red flag period to improve to a 1:36.686, bringing the No. 708 Glickenhaus to within a second of Lopez’s Toyota.

Richard Westbrook completed the Hypercar order in the No. 709 Glickenhaus with a 1:38.323.

LMP2 pole honors went to Team WRT’s Charles Milesi, who set the fastest lap in the class despite being Silver-rated and coming up against Gold or Platinum rivals.

Milesi returned a 1:38.527 in the No. 41 car that he co-drives with Robin Frijns and Ferdinand Habsburg to hand WRT its first pole in the LMP2 division and the WEC.

Filipe Albuquerque was the only driver to post his fastest lap after the red flag, jumping from fourth to second as he did. The No. 22 United Autosports Oreca will start alongside WRT on the LMP2 front-row after the Portuguese driver submitted a 1:38.557.

Ben Hanley was third for DragonSpeed, which took the LMP2 Pro-Am pole, while Nyck de Vries was fourth for Racing Team Nederland.

Felipe Nasr secured a top-five start for LMP2 newcomer Risi Competizione, beating JOTA’s Anthony Davidson and Realteam Racing’s Loic Duval.

Estre Bags Third Straight GTE-Pro Pole

Kevin Estre earned his third pole in as many WEC rounds this season driving the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19.

After taking to the Rettifilio chicane run-off on his first flying lap, the Frenchman bounced back to post the fastest lap of the GTE qualifying session in the Porsche that he shares with Neel Jani.

Estre posted a time of 1:45.412 to overcome Ferrari 488 GTE Evo driver Alessandro Pier Guidi’s provisional pole time by 0.065 seconds.

Gianmaria Bruni qualified third in the No. 91 Porsche, four-tenths off the pole effort, while Miguel Miguel Molina was a further four-tenths back in the No. 52 Ferrari.

In GTE-Am, Ben Keating claimed his second pole of the season in the No. 33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

The American driver made a late improvement to edge past Francois Perrodo’s No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari at the top of the leaderboard by 0.269 seconds.

Roberto Lacorte qualified third in Cetilar Racing’s Ferrari which, at 1305 kg, is the heaviest of the GTE-Am cars due to its success ballast for this weekend’s event.

RESULTS: Qualifying

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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