The FIA WEC will host its maiden Italian race at the ‘Temple of Speed’ on July 18 – Last Lap takes you through the key talking points.

The FIA World Endurance Championship is set to host the first ever round in Italy, though its feeder series siblings, the European Le Mans Series and the Michelin Le Mans Cup, have both made multiple visits to the Monza venue.

Season 9 will be at the halfway point after the 6 Hours of Monza, Round 3 of the six-stop tour for the FIA and the ACO’s premier sportscar championship.

We left off from a thrilling 8 Hours of Portimao which sought action in all categories, especially in Hypercars and LMP2.

But Monza will surely not disappoint, so here are our key talking points.

Glickenhaus Racing doubling up at the ‘Temple of Speed’

The 6 Hours of Monza will be an important race for this year’s new Hypercar team.

Indeed, Portimao was the first race for the new SCG 007 LMH which carried its own debuting value for the team. But the reality was opportunistic to test the car instead.

Their tricky start to their debut world championship campaign was down to rapidly blistering tyres which was a challenging theme to the consequence of Ryan Briscoe’s contact with two GTE-Ams, which led to an extensive clutch replacement job.

In qualifying, they were just over 2s off the pace although a 10-minute session with 14 other cars also competing for a lap-time already made things tricky, as well as building tyre heat, finding a gap, and managing traffic.

However, they did make it to end of an eight-hour race to assert the initial reliability that is so vital in the game of endurance racing.

Glickenhaus
Credit: © ADRENALMEDIA.COM / Tim Hearn

This weekend, they will bring two SCG 007 LMHs to a familiar track having tested there in the pre-season period.

Since the 8 Hours of Portimao, testing was conducted at Paul Ricard last week to hone onto the steps needed to find the performance in a promising package.

Like everyone else, it will perform as a basis to prepare for Le Mans. But no other team will use this race to the advantage as much as Glickenhaus Racing.

Furthermore, the rest of the seven driver roster will get to race the LMH which is why Briscoe is not racing at Monza.

Read more on Glickenhaus Racing:

In the #709, Glickenhaus Racing regular Franck Mailleux will replace Briscoe and compete in his first FIA WEC race since Le Mans in 2014. The car is only just back from its outing at the Goodwood FOS.

The debuting #708 sister car will have Pipo Derani, Gustavo Menezes, and Olivier Pla take the wheel.

It will be exciting to see these cars compete against the Toyotas and the Alpine, for the BoP in Hypercars remains the same from Portimao.

First-ever home race for AF Corse and Cetilar Racing

It is a very special race for two Italian GTE teams across both the Pro and Am categories.

AF Corse’s works GTE-Pro team came off Portimao on high spirits when they capitalised on Porsche’s struggles with tyre blistering.

Indeed this was an issue that affected all four Pro cars, but the #91’s off-beat pit strategy put pressure on a struggling sister car which couldn’t convert Kevin Estre’s pole position lap into a victory.

Calado says GTE tyre blistering was ‘unavoidable’ en route to birthday victory

Across the two GTE-Pro AF Corse Ferraris, three GTE-Am AF Corses, plus the #47 Cetilar Racing (an Italian outfit backed by AF Corse Ferrari) bring six Italian drivers to their first WEC race on home turf.

Portimao’s eight-hour length combined with the warm track temperatures provoked the tyre struggles in a unique way, but expected warm temperatures this weekend will put tyre management back into perspective.

The #47 with their all-Italian driver crew also came off the Portuguese race on a high after claiming a victory to add from their Spa podium finish.

WEC rookie Antonio Fuoco described the Monza circuit as “fast and demanding” to Last Lap with a focus needed to keep the car out of the walls, and undoubtedly into other competitors.

The Italian teams are going to revel at the sight of fans at home, many of whom will be supporting the prancing horse badges.

Needless to say, both AF Corse and Cetilar Racing will have their eye on keeping the winning momentum for next month’s coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans.

De Vries subs Van Uitert for Racing Team Nederland

For those who were not aware, Job Van Uitert unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 before the (European Le Mans Series) 4 Hours of Monza – a second time for a United Autosports driver after Fabio Scherer.

With him out of the #29, Mercedes EQ Formula E driver Nyck De Vries returns to what is a familiar team after a debuting WEC campaign in Season 8; though he has made appearances with G-Drive Racing over in the ELMS.

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They could not have picked a better driver for the seat considering his affiliation with the Dutch team and with an abundance of experience in an Oreca 07-Gibson.

However, this absence adds to a crucial miss on preparing for Le Mans as the Monza circuit features long straights, high-speed corners, and an overall aspect which welcomes traffic management on the GTEs.

Expect them to contend once again for the LMP2 Pro/Am win.

Fabio Scherer returns with United Autosports

The Swiss driver missed out on his second race not only in the FIA WEC, but the endurance racing discipline.

He was looking forward to racing at the ‘rollercoaster’ circuit that was Portimao but it was not to be after his positive COVID-19 test. Especially difficult when it is your birthday.

Even so, it gave a chance to reigning Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 champion Wayne Boyd to step in and make his debut. He performed well with a notable stand to Anthony Davidson’s charge on him during the race.

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Soon enough, his debut drives impressed Co-Owners Zak Brown and Richard Dean to earn him a Le Mans drive for the team, though it was clearly pushed by his previous performances behind the wheel from this year so far.

Even though he did recently drive at the Red Bull Ring, as part of the Porsche SuperCup support package for Formula 1, he has not raced an LMP2 since May.

Scherer is keen to get back into the car with his Le Mans debut right around the corner, but the 22-year-old looks forward to building his momentum with the motorsport discipline.

Here’s hoping we do not jinx his place in that seat at Monza this weekend.

To see the latest edition of the WEC 6 Hours of Monza entry list, see here.

Round 3 Schedule
Event Day Time (BST)
Qualifying – LM-GTE Pro and LM-GTE Am Saturday 17 July 5pm to 5.10pm
Qualifying – Hypercars and LMP2s Saturday 17 July
5.20pm to 5.30pm
Race – 6 Hours of Monza Sunday 18 July 11am to 5pm
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