6H Monza: Bittersweet for Toyota with race lead and troubles into 2-hour mark

The #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing leads after two hours of action at the 6 Hours of Monza, Round 3 of the FIA WEC Season 9 schedule.

Fans were present and the sun was out at the first ever Monza race for the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The #83 AF Corse was demoted to the back of the GTE field as a punishment for a ride height infringement after qualifying.

As for the start, it was uncharacteristically clean and tidy with opportunistic moves galore.

The #36 Alpine Elf Matmut of Andre Negrao pounced on the #8 for P2 after the first chicane before a change was made back when the #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi used his boost at Curva Grande.

Behind the Hypercars, reigning LMP2 driver’s champion Phil Hanson took the class-lead from the #31 of Robin Frijns at Turn 1.

In GTE-Am, an intense battle between two Ferraris lasted over four laps between the #54 AF Corse and the #47 Cetilar Racing, the latter of whom lead the championship in the category.

With eight minutes into the race, the #60 Iron Lynx which had front-end damage from a crash in FP2 entered the garage with the front radiator coolant spewing out.

At the 13 minute mark, the Hypercars were catching the GTE-Am field.

The #709 Glickenhaus Racing of Richard Westbrook was chasing down the #36 Alpine in an intense nose-to-tail affair as they too tackled the first of lapped GTE traffic.

GTE-Am put on an ongoing fight between the #54 and the #83 AF Corses for P2 on their home turf.

The race’s first Full-Course-Yellow was deployed just under half-an-hour in because Andrew Haryanto of the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing spun and got himself stuck in the gravel trap at the second chicane.

During this, the entire field made their chance to make a pitstop.

The #709 started on seven cylinders with a broken spark plug being replaced during a seven-minute stop in the garage. It came out in 25th but Pipo Derani brought the car back up to running amongst the LMP2s.

The #34 Inter Europol Competition of Alex Brundle was awarded a drive-through penalty for nudging around the #70 Realteam Racing of Loic Duval.

The LMP2 lead was intense between Hanson of the #22 being chased by the #31 Team WRT of Robin Frijns.

Their fight was ongoing as a key storyline since opening stages of the race, but the #29 Racing Team Nederland of Nyck De Vries chased the duo as they all emerged amongst the traffic.

Further down in LMP2, during the second hour, Olli Webb (#44) and Tatiana Calderon (#1) were both fighting for P9 in-class between their Ligier and Oreca chassis cars.

At the 1 hour and 23 minute mark, the #47 got into the barrier after a spin on the exit of Lesmo 2. They repaired and rejoined soon afterwards.

Meanwhile, the #8 of Brendon Hartley went into a 4.5s garage pitstop for an electronic power reset cycle. Shortly after getting back out, he dramatically missed Turn 1 twice and pitted again after the second lockup, implying braking issues.

Both Glickenhaus Racing cars were running strongly, but the #708 of Gustavo Menezes was suddenly running at a lesser pace into the 2-hour mark.

OVERALL POSITION TEAM
1 #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing [HYPERCAR]
2 #36 Alpine Elf Matmut [HYPERCAR]
3 #709 Glickenhaus Racing [HYPERCAR]
4 #31 Team WRT [LMP2]
5 #22 United Autosports [LMP2]
6 #28 JOTA [LMP2]
7 #38 JOTA [LMP2]
8 #29 Racing Team Nederland (Pro/Am) [LMP2]
9 #82 Risi Competizione [LMP2]
10 #20 High Class Racing [LMP2]
11 #34 Inter Europol Competition (Pro/Am) [LMP2]
12 #708 Glickenhaus Racing [HYPERCAR]
13 #1 Richard Mille Racing [LMP2]
14 #44 ARC Bratislava (Pro/Am) [LMP2]
15 #21 DragonSpeed USA (Pro/Am) [LMP2]
16 #70 Realteam Racing (Pro/Am) [LMP2]
17 #92 Porsche GT Team [GTE-PRO]
18 #51 AF Corse [GTE-PRO]
19 #52 AF Corse [GTE-PRO]
20 #91 Porsche GT Team [GTE-PRO]
21 #33 TF Sport [GTE-AM]
22 #56 Team Project 1 [GTE-AM]
23 #83 AF Corse [GTE-AM]
24 #85 Iron Lynx [GTE-AM]
25 #98 Aston Martin Racing [GTE-AM]
26 #54 AF Corse [GTE-AM]
27 #86 GR Racing [GTE-AM]
28 #777 D’station Racing [GTE-AM]
29 #61 AF Corse [GTE-AM]
30 #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing [GTE-AM]
31 #46 Team Project 1 [GTE-AM]
32 #388 Rinaldi Racing [GTE-AM]
33 #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing [GTE-AM]
34 #47 Cetilar Racing [GTE-AM]
35 #8 Toyota GAZOO Racing [HYPERCAR]
36 #60 Iron Lynx [GTE-AM]