6 Hours of Monza Preview
Marvellous Monza for round for of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship...
Just one month after the jewel-in-the-crown 24 Hours of Le Mans, the FIA World Endurance Championship is back in action this weekend (July 8-10) for its fourth round, the 6 Hours of Monza, with the highlights of the second-largest grid in WEC history and the debut of the dramatic Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar.
Monza kicks off the second half of the season, with just Fuji and Bahrain to follow it, and illustrating just how close the competition is this season, none of the four classes has seen a repeat winner across the three races thus far.
All eyes will be on the Hypercar class as Peugeot debuts its new 9X8 Hypercar. The French manufacturer will battle its fellow French entry, Alpine, with the #36 Signatech-run A480 with Nicolas Lapierre, Mathieu Vaxivierre and Andre Negrao currently atop the class standings through virtue of a win in Sebring and finishes in Spa and Le Mans.
Despite their early class lead, Alpine face the pressure of a brace of Toyota and notwithstanding their retirement with a hybrid-related problem at Spa, victory at the double points Le Mans means the #8 Toyota crew of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa is just three points behind in the leading GR010 HYBRID.
Reigning champions and defending Monza winners Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway in the #7 Toyota are 20 points off the lead in fourth, and eight points behind Glickenhaus 007 LMH drivers Romain Dumas and Olivier Pla, with everything still to play for.
In LMGTE Pro, Porsche claimed spoils at Monza last year courtesy of recently-announced Porsche LMDh driver Kevin Estre and Neel Jani. But victory at Le Mans for the sister #91 Porsche 911 RSR-19 that Italian home hero Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz will campaign at Monza means the #92 car driven by Estre and Michael Christensen trail by three points. In the tightly-bunched back, the lead #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi is just five points off the lead in third.
In the intense LMP2 class, Phil Hanson/Filipe Albuquerque will aim to make up for being punted off the track on the opening lap at Le Mans by repeating their 2021 Monza win in the #22 United Autosports’ ORECA Gibson-07 they share with Will Owen. The 2019-20 champions currently sit ninth in the standings, currently headed by the #38 Jota entry driven by Antonio Felix da Costa, Will Stevens and Roberto Gonzalez.
The recent Le Mans-winning trio has an 11-point lead over United’s #23 entry of Sebring winners Josh Pierson and Oliver Jarvis, joined once more by Alex Lynn, with a second place finish at Le Mans moving Prema's Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Lorenzo Colombo up to third in the standings, six points further back.
LMGTE Am class spoils last year were claimed by the #83 AF Corse Ferrari trio Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera that currently head the LMP2 pro/am sub-category, with Porsche and Aston Martin sharing victories between them so far this season. Ferrari has yet to get off the mark, but where better to do so than on its home turf?
Monza was a welcome addition to the FIA WEC schedule last season and this year is the 100th anniversary of the track, with the construction of its first iteration being completed in July 1922. The current 5.8km, 11-turn layout favours a slippery low-downforce protagonist, and the Italian summer promises searing temperatures for the race.
This will be the second time that the WEC has visited Monza, although the venue has hosted numerous top-level endurance events over its 100-year history.
6 Hours of Monza schedule
Friday 8 July 2022
Free Practice 1: 15:30-17:00 CET
Saturday 9 July 2022
Free Practice 2: 9:00am-10:30 CET
Free practice 3: 13:30-14:30 CET
Qualifying 1: 17:30-17:40 CET
Qualifying 2: 17:50-18:00 CET
Sunday 10 July 2022
Race: 12:00-18:00 CET