MEDIABALAP.com (Jakarta) – The FIA World Endurance Championship will visit the legendary Autodromo Nazionale di Monza later this week for the WEC 6 Hours of Monza (7-9 July), as the fight for the 2023 endurance racing titles heats up across all three categories.
With Ferrari AF Corse winning round four of FIA WEC, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Hypercar battle has intensified as Ferrari is closing on category leaders Toyota who are now just 18 points ahead in the overall standings. However, the LMP2 title fight is even closer as a mere four points separate Team WRT and recent Le Mans winners Inter Europol Competition.
Thirty-six cars will tackle the 5.793-kilometre Autodromo Nazionale di Monza or ‘the temple of speed’ which is famed for its long high-speed straights where Hypercars reach speeds in the region of 318kph and nearly 60% of the lap is traveled with a fully-open throttle. During each tour of the circuit, Hypercar drivers will shift gears 36 times.
Marking the first time that the Ferrari 499P Hypercar will be raced competitively at Monza and coupled with the Ferrari’s emphatic victory at the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans, the ‘Tifosi’ will be out in force later this week! Moreover, 12 of the 108 drivers competing at Monza will be Italian and there are six Ferraris on the entry list (two Ferrari 499P Hypercars and four Ferrari 488 GTE Evos).
ADDITIONAL HYPERCAR ENTRY WITH PROTON COMPETITION
The Hypercar line-up for Monza will equal the same number of Hypercars seen at Spa-Francorchamps with a total of 13 entries. The extra Cadillac from Spa will be replaced with a brand-new entry: a privately-run Proton Competition Porsche 963.
The No. 99 Proton Competition entry will bring the total tally of Porsche 963s to four as it joins the two factory-run Porsche Penske Motorsport cars (No. 5 and No. 6), as well as the Hertz Team JOTA run Porsche. Driving the new Proton entered Porsche will be home driver, Rome-born Gianmaria Bruni, a two-time LMGTE Pro World Champion. Bruni will be joined by 2016 FIA WEC World Champion Neel Jani and double Le Mans class winner Harry Tincknell. The team will travel to Monza without testing the car so will aim to use the Italian WEC round as a chance to get to grips with the new machinery.
There will be three further Italian drivers in the Hypercar category for the home fans – and all will be racing for Ferrari AF Corse. Antonio Fuoco, who has secured pole on two occasions already this season, will compete in the No. 50 Ferrari 499P Hypercar. Fellow countrymen Alessandro Pier Guidi and Antonio Giovinazzi will drive the sister No. 51 car, the same machine which made its memorable Le Mans victory alongside Britain’s James Calado last month.
Toyota Gazoo Racing and its pair of Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercars have already won three out of four WEC races this season but after a narrow defeat at Le Mans, the Japanese squad will be eager to get their 2023 title fight back on course with another victory. Among drivers, it is the crew of the No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid (Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryō Hirakawa) that has a slender 15 point lead over the No. 51 Ferrari.
Behind Toyota and Ferrari, Cadillac has confirmed its position as the third force in the Hypercar field. A major asset of the V-Series.R, its reliability has seen the brand take two podiums in the WEC already this season. In the Hypercar drivers’ standings, it’s the No. 2 car driven by Alex Lynn, Earl Bamber and Richard Westbrook who are currently third – 12 points adrift of Ferrari.
After a strong showing at Le Mans last month which saw the French manufacturer lead the race at one point, Peugeot TotalEnergies will be in Italy with two of their Peugeot 9X8 Hypercars. The team are fifth in the standings, 19 points behind Porsche who occupy fourth place.
American-flagged Glickenhaus Racing will be looking to replicate its strong performance from Monza last year with the No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 Hypercar driven by Romain Dumas, Olivier Pla and Nathanael Berthon. Completing the entry list in Hypercar will be Floyd Vanwall Racing where Tristan Vautier has replaced Tom Dillmann in the Vanwall Vandervell 680.
LMP2 BATTLE RAGES BUT WILL CORVETTE BE BEATEN IN LMGTE AM?
In LMP2, home support will be strong for Italian-flagged Prema Racing and its resident driver Andrea Caldarelli who has been drafted in to replace Mirko Bortolotti for this race. Other changes in LMP2 include Giedo Van der Garde and Ben Hanley subbing for United Autosport’s regular drivers Felipe Albuquerque and Tom Blomqvist who are on IMSA race duty.
Just four points split the two front-runners in LMP2 going into Monza with Team WRT leading Inter Europol Competition in second place. United Autosports sit third, 20 points behind category leaders WRT.
Meanwhile, Corvette Racing has a commanding lead in LMGTE Am with the team having amassed 133 points so far (thanks to three victories and one second place finish). The battle for second and third place, however, is much closer with only three points separating second-placed ORT by TF and the all-female crew of Iron Dames in third position.
Notable changes in LMGTE Am include Efrin Castro and Guilherme Moura de Oliveira driving for Project 1 – AO plus Julien Piguet in the No. 21 AF Corse entry. Meanwhile, in the No. 57 Kessel Racing car, Daniel Serra will be replaced by Japan’s Kei Cozzolino. Finally, Northwest AMR will sit this race out but have noted their intention to return for WEC 6 Hours of Fuji at the start of September. There are seven Italian drivers competing in GTE Am (Francesco Castellacci; Davide Rigon; Matteo Cairoli; Claudio Schiavoni; Matteo Cressoni; Alessio Rovera and Riccardo Pera).
The on-track action is set to kick off on Friday 7 July with Qualifying taking place on Saturday afternoon. The flag for the 6 hour race will be waved at 12h30 on Sunday by the event’s official Grand Marshal, Dindo Capello.
The latest entry list for the 6 Hours of Monza can be found HERE.
Follow all the action via the FIA WEC official app. Or watch live on TV via Eurosport 2 across Europe, MotorTrend in the USA, or fans in Italy who are unable to attend Monza can watch the full race live on Sky Sport Action. For the full TV broadcast info, please click HERE. FP3 will be streamed live on the FIA WEC YouTube channel.
Race Time table
Friday July 7
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: FP1
4:40 p.m. – 6:10 p.m.: FP2
Saturday July 8
10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.: FP3
2:40 p.m.: Qualifying
Sunday July 9
12:30 race start