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No. 7 Toyota Crew Takes First Win of Season at Monza

Conway, Lopez, Kobayashi get off the mark with victory in first WEC race at Monza…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Toyota’s Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi took their first FIA World Endurance Championship win of the season at Monza as Alpine and LMP2 class winner United Autosports completed the overall podium after six hours of racing.

Conway crossed the line one minute clear of Matthieu Vaxiviere in the No. 36 Alpine A480 Gibson that the Frenchman shared with Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao.

United’s LMP2-winning Oreca 07 Gibson driven by Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Fabio Scherer ended up third after benefiting from setbacks to the No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid and both Glickenhaus SCG 007 Le Mans Hypercars.

The No. 7 Toyota won despite briefly losing the lead with two hours to go when Kobayashi was forced to park up under the bridge before Ascari to perform a system reset.

That episode caused the Japanese driver to drop behind Romain Dumas in the No. 709 Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH, which then pitted at the end of the same lap for a brake change that would last eight minutes, thwarting its chances of an outright podium.

Toyota’s No. 7 machine controlled the first half of the race after Lopez took pole position on Saturday evening.

Toyota’s No. 8 car driven by Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima was initially second, but ended up having a troubled afternoon that involved several trips to the garage.

The car that won the first two rounds of the season at Spa and Portimao completed 43 laps fewer than its winning teammate and finished last of the classified runners.

When the No. 8 encountered its first setback of a power loss one and a half hours into the race, Alpine moved up to second while the No. 709 Glickenhaus advanced to third.

Lopez’s 40-second advantage over Vaxiviere came down at the start of the third hour when a safety car was called to retrieve debris from an Aston Martin GTE puncture.

Some of that gap was restored after the halfway point until Kobayashi’s stoppage, which cast doubt over the No. 7 Toyota’s chances of victory.

Glickenhaus’ brake change made Alpine the main contender for an upset, with Lapierre leading for a few laps before pitting.

However, quick times from Kobayashi and then Conway, who posted the fastest lap of the race, enabled the No. 7 Toyota to draw ahead of the Alpine in the final hour and ultimately take the win.

After its length pit stop, the Glickenhaus driven by Dumas, Richard Westbrook and Franck Mailleux climbed past several LMP2 cars from eighth to fourth overall.

The other Glickenhaus of Pipo Derani, Gustavo Menezes and Olivier Pla retired after experiencing gearbox trouble.

One position ahead of the remaining SCG, Albuquerque delivered United Autosports’ second victory of the campaign, finishing almost a minute ahead of Robin Frijns in the Team WRT Oreca that also featured Charles Milesi and Ferdinand Habsburg.

Hanson took the category lead from pole-sitter Frijns at the first corner but United had a slow early pit stop, which restored the Belgian team’s advantage.

However, WRT pitted just before the safety car which upturned the order again. United emerged with the upper hand and ran a clean remainder of the race to add to its win at Spa and its third place at Portimao.

Racing Team Nederland finished third and won the LMP2 Pro-Am class with its adjusted lineup of Frits van Eerd, Nyck de Vries and Paul-Loup Chatin.

Inter Europol Competition’s Alex Brundle, Renger van der Zande and Jakub Smiechowski finished fourth, while JOTA’s Stoffel Vandoorne, Tom Blomqvist and Sean Gelael completed the top five.

Estre Holds Off Pier Guidi for GTE-Pro Win

Kevin Estre and Neel Jani denied a home-soil victory for Ferrari as the Porsche GT Team pair took the championship lead with their second win of the season.

Estre led into the final hour of the race, but his advantage over Alessandro Pier Guidi came down when Ferrari elected not to pit its No. 51 car under a late Full Course Yellow period.

This move brought Pier Guidi right onto Estre’s tail and the two former world champions ran close for several laps until the Ferrari pitted for a fuel splash with two minutes to go. The win moved Estre and Jani above Pier Guidi and James Calado in the points.

Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz completed the podium in their No. 91 Porsche, ahead of Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra in the No. 52 Ferrari.

GTE-Am honors went to AF Corse’s Francois Perrodo, Alessio Rovera and Nicklas Nielsen who won from the back of the 15-car grid.

The No. 83 Ferrari was relegated to the back of the grid due to a technical infringement but surged through the field to claim its second win of the year after Spa.

Augusto Farfus made a late overtake on Tomonobu Fujii to earn second place for the No. 98 NorthWest AMR Aston Martin.

Farfus shared the result with Paul Dalla Lana and Marcos Gomes, while Fujii and his D’station Racing co-drivers Satoshi Hoshino and Andrew Watson settled for third.

Despite missing out on second, the D’station Aston Martin crew made up for its TF Sport parent team losing an early lead due to a front-left tire delamination with Ben Keating at the wheel.

RESULTS: 6 Hours of Monza

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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