Alpine, Corvette sweep to victories in wild Monza WEC 6 Hours

JEP/Motorsport Images

Alpine, Corvette sweep to victories in wild Monza WEC 6 Hours

Le Mans/WEC

Alpine, Corvette sweep to victories in wild Monza WEC 6 Hours

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In LMP2, Realteam by WRT took its first win with the No. 41 ORECA in WEC competition. Ferdinand Habsburg, Rui Andrade (the first Angolian to win an FIA WEC race) and Norman Nato combined to take a shock win late in the race.

“It was strange, this turned into a track position race and on the last safety car they told me to overtake four cars in front over two stints, the mission was simple!” Habsburg said after the race.

The No. 41 didn’t take the lead until the very end, when the contenders in LMP2 pitted for late splashes and Habsburg emerged ahead of the Le Mans-winning No. 38 JOTA ORECA of Will Stevens, which looked set to win into the final hour after a remarkable drive from the very back of the grid.

JOTA will be slightly disappointed it didn’t take the win, but should be extremely pleased to have secured a strong finish for the title-leading No. 38 ahead of its title rivals after having to fight through the field.

Third in the class was the Vector Sport ORECA, which had a really encouraging run. This was by far the new-for-2022 FIA WEC team’s best performance of the season, finishing ahead of the Inter Europol Competition ORECA which rose up the order and looked set to finish on the podium before the team made a longer fuel stop in the final hour and dropped to fourth.

The No. 23 United Autosports ORECA which sits second in the standings took fourth, ahead of the Prema ORECA which is third in the title race and was delayed after being involved in a collision with the No. 1 Richard Mille ORECA at Turn 1 which damaged the No. 1’s gearbox.

Brave tactics paid off with a surprise victory for Corvette Racing’s C8.R  JEP/Motorsport Images

In the GTE Pro ranks, it was Corvette Racing that stole the show, with an astonishing performance to snatch the win on a bold strategy call at the end. The American team came out of nowhere after the two AF Corse Ferraris spent much of the race sitting 1-2 at the head of the field and looked to have the pace to take a comfortable win.

With 90 minutes to go, though, things began to fall apart when the class-leading No. 51 of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado was handed a drive-through for a technical infringement at a stop, the team forgetting to hand over the data card to the organizers. This elementary error dropped the No. 51 to fourth and forced Pier Guidi to push hard to climb back into the top three.

Meanwhile, the No. 52 led until the final minutes but after holding a comfortable gap of around 10 seconds to Nick Tandy in the No. 64 Corvette, Antonio Fuoco was forced to pit for a splash. Tandy on the other hand, didn’t, somehow saving enough fuel to make it to the end and take the lead with just two laps remaining.

It was a mighty performance and a memorable result in Corvette’s first race in Italy, following a heartbreaking Le Mans 24 Hours.

“With two laps to go, I saw a red car coming in and didn’t know which one,” Tandy said after the race. “I asked if it was the 52 and the team said it was. Like Tommy said, we basically gave up with about 30 minutes to go because we had to hit a stupid fuel number to make it. But we did!”

“This was a long time coming, but this team performed and executed so well today,” added Laura Klauser, GM’s sports car racing manager. “Tommy and Nick drove their hearts out in this Corvette. Even if we had a couple of setbacks, we found our way around them. We did what Corvette Racing always does: we never gave up!”

Behind the No. 64 and No. 52, the battle for third must also receive a mention, as it got extremely heated and featured multiple controversial incidents. The rivalry between AF Corse and Porsche, following on the messy end to last season at Bahrain, was very much on display here.

Kevin Estre in the No. 92 Porsche gave it absolutely everything, and a bit more to hold onto third, but would end up penalized after contact multiple times with the No. 51 (and No. 28 JOTA ORECA).

Estre ran door-to-door with Pier Guidi into Turn 1 when the Italian was trying to force his way past, before having another touch with the Ferrari at Parabolica when Pier Guidi came back at him. The pair were both sent wide in what was a brave move from the Italian after having the place handed back due to the Ferrari taking the escape road at the first chicane.

It didn’t end there either, as the pair came together yet again at Curva Grande when Pier Guidi mounted his next attack, before Estre hit the Ferrari from behind into the Variante della Roggia chicane moments later in retaliation, sending both down the escape road. They were both lucky that this spat didn’t end with a sizeable incident…

In the end, Estre was penalized and came home fourth, meaning the No. 51 salvaged a double podium for Ferrari on home turf after the disappointment for the No. 52.

GTE Am ended up going the way of Dempsey Proton Racing, its No. 77 Porsche running a near-perfect race to climb the order and take a convincing win over the No. 85 Iron Dames Ferrari.

“No mistakes, no penalties, I got the car in second place and it was fantastic to bring it home.” No. 77 driver Harry Tincknell said.

Like Hypercar, this was a race of two halves. TF Sport with Ben Keating at the wheel looked most likely to win, before a huge incident blew the race wide open.

Henrique Chaves was lucky to walk away unhurt after flying off the circuit sideways at Variante della Roggia, clipping the left-side entry curb, then clouting a sausage curb in the runoff. The side-on impact with the curb blew the car’s door off and sent the Vantage flying into the air and onto its roof, where it slid back across the circuit and rolling into the guardrail on driver’s left.

The incident. which was believed to have been caused by a failure rather than driver error, involved no other cars but left many in the paddock visibly shaken.

“It was frightening,” class winner Harry Tincknell said. “Those curbs are there for sporting reasons, but maybe we have to think again about the safety aspect.”

Dempsey-Proton Racing also surged late with its Porsche 911 RSR to take the GTE Am win. JEP/Motorsport Images

The safety car period then bunched up the field, with the all-female Iron Dames Ferrari inheriting the lead. But that team would suffer from an ill-timed full-course yellow period later on, forcing them to pit under green when the other teams around it saved time by pitting during a caution period. This dropped Michelle Gatting, Rahel Frey and Sarah Bovy to second, 26 seconds behind Tincknell, who then pulled away.

Team Project 1’s No. 46 Porsche took third, Matteo Cairoli pushing hard at the end to catch and pass Gatting, but ran out of time and crossed the line 10 seconds back.

Next up for the teams, after what was one of the best FIA WEC races in years, is Fuji on September 10-11.

RESULTS

MX-5 Cup | Round 12 – VIR

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