Connect with us


Monza Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday news and notes from the FIA WEC paddock at Monza…

Photo: MPS Agency

***Following his positive COVID-19 test, Porsche’s Richard Lietz is missing an FIA World Endurance Championship race for the first time since the 2014 Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of The Americas. It ends a remarkable run of 55 consecutive WEC events for Lietz.

***Furthermore, this weekend will mark Gianmaria Bruni’s first race without Lietz as his co-driver since the first round of the 2018-19 season, which was their maiden campaign together in GTE-Pro.

***Andrea Bertolini and Davide Rigon today tested the Ferrari LMH car at the manufacturer’s Fiorano facility. Ferrari’s sports car racing director Antonello Coletta told Sportscar365 that the first test at an external circuit will take place in around 15 days.

***Ferrari appears to be against signing external drivers for its Hypercar effort with two factory cars next year. Coletta instead wants to choose from Ferrari’s crop of GT drivers that have been central to the development process. “I think that Ferrari needs to have a big driver, not a big name,” he said, adding: “I prefer to stay in the family.”

***Toyota advisor Alex Wurz revealed that he and the manufacturer’s drivers keep a close eye on any announcements from other LMH and LMDh competitors in a joint group chat. “When we find pictures on the internet of the BMW or Peugeot or Porsche, we all share it and we analyze,” Wurz told Sportscar365. “That is so cool because I love this sport, I love the prototypes.”

***Peugeot WEC technical director Olivier Jansonnie described the team’s first day of official session running as “not too bad” after the No. 93 car finished third in FP1, while the sister car encountered an issue that limited its running. Jansonnie wouldn’t go into details on the latter’s extended garage visit but said it was powertrain-related.

***The No. 93 Peugeot driven by Jean-Eric Vergne stopped just after Ascari following the FP1 checkered flag, but this was to perform a standard extrication procedure that has also been demanded of the Toyota GR010 Hybrids at previous rounds this season.

***Vergne is making his first WEC appearance outside of Le Mans for the first time since Bahrain 2019. “A lot of faces I haven’t seen for a long time,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s good to be back and to come back with Peugeot in Hypercar is a great feeling.”

***The No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R competing at Monza is the same one that did the 1000 Miles of Sebring and the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa. The car that dramatically crashed out of the GTE-Pro battle at Le Mans has been returned to the team’s base in Detroit, as originally planned.

***Corvette’s Tommy Milner reported a constructive first practice session at Monza for the American GTE-Pro squad: “It seems like to get a good lap time here, the car balance needs to be a little bit free, which is a lot of fun to drive on this circuit,” he said.

***Mathias Beche is back with ARC Bratislava this weekend for his first WEC event with the Slovakian team since the Sebring season-opener. Bent Viscaal joined Tijmen van der Helm and Miro Konopka for Spa, while Vautier replaced van der Helm for Le Mans with the Dutchman linking up with Beche at TDS Racing x Vaillante.

***Lamborghini’s head of motorsport Giorgio Sanna was in the WEC paddock on Friday. Sanna also visited last year’s 6 Hours of Monza, but this latest attendance comes after the manufacturer announced an LMDh program for 2024.

***Ferrari Driver Academy member Maya Weug and fellow Iron Dames member Doriane Pine are on-site and took part in a photoshoot with the Iron Dames WEC driver lineup on the old Monza banking.

***Kevin Estre’s son Tommy celebrated his second birthday at the track on Thursday and was presented with a mouth-watering cake to mark the occasion.

***Peugeot’s marketing team gifted some playful chocolate rear wings around the paddock as part of their welcome activities. The wingless 9X8 has attracted plenty of interest, with Jim Glickenhaus describing it as “the spirit of Le Mans and the spirit of Hypercar”.

***Alpine Elf Team boss Philippe Sinault said that he is “really enthusiastic” to see the Peugeot in action. “It’s really the start of the new endurance generation,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s like a foundation stone”.

***Glickenhaus is looking forward to seeing how the Peugeot performs: “I think it’s absolutely wonderful that they would make such an interesting approach to Hypercar,” he told Sportscar365. “I have no idea if they can make it work without a wing, but I would love to see it be able to.”

***The sky-blue livery on the No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo will “probably” be kept for any future races, according to the American team’s owner. Glickenhaus added that he ditched the red and white scheme after Goodwood, where he saw the Porsche 963 LMDh in the red, white and black combination that has become common in corporate endurance racing liveries.

***JOTA has updated its 8/8 stickers on the front of its Oreca 07 Gibsons to reflect its recent 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 class win. The 8/8 stood for eight podiums in eight years, while the new stickers show 10/9 after JOTA’s lineups placed first and third.

***Team principal Sam Hignett rates JOTA’s victory last month higher than the British squad’s one-two and overall podium in 2017. He said during a team manager press conference: “To do it in this year when the grid was 27 cars, lots of super-fast Silvers and to do it with a genuinely defined Silver, a mid-forties businessman in the car, was a great achievement.”

***Paul-Loup Chatin has the “personal goal” to race in Hypercar and that aligning with Alpine LMP1 and LMDh partner Signatech as part of Richard Mille Racing Team’s LMP2 effort “could help in the future”. However, Chatin also said that for now “my main and only goal for the end of the season is to race for Richard Mille and to help them be as fast and consistent as possible.”

***Prema’s Lorenzo Colombo and Team Project 1’s Matteo Cairoli are two of a dozen Italian drivers to race on home soil this weekend, but both are closer than most: Colombo hails from the nearby city of Legnano, while Cairoli was born in Como. “I live very close [to] here, but in the morning it can take up to an hour to arrive, so it is better to take a hotel close by!” Colombo said.

***Saturday’s track action consists of two Free Practice sessions and qualifying. FP2 starts at 9 a.m. CEST (3 a.m. ET) and lasts 90 minutes. A one-hour FP3 session will then take place at 1:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET) followed by qualifying at 5:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. ET).

Davey Euwema contributed to this report

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

Click to comment

More in FIA WEC