Four scorching hours at Monza

It was a scorching experience for the 42 competing cars on the fourth round of the European Le Mans Series, which was run at Autodromo Nazionale Monza just right outside Milano.

Even though the race started at eleven o’clock local time, the temperature was already over 25 degrees, and the track temperature was just under 40 degrees.

G-Drive Racing #26 with Roman Rusinov, Franco Colapinto and Danish Mikkel Jensen started the race from Pole Position, ahead of United Autosports #22 with Jonathan Aberdein, Phil Hanson and Tom Gamble, while Team WRT #41 with Louis Deletraz, Yifei Ye and Robert Kubica would start from third.

DragonSpeed USA #21 with Juan Pablo Montoya, Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley was the best LMP2 Pro/Am team in qualifying.

The LMP3 Pole went to Laurents Hörr and Mathieu de Barbuat in DKR Engineering #4, ahead of Inter Europol Competition #13 with Ugo de Wilde, Martin Hippe and Mattia Pasini, while Garett Grist, Rob Hodes and Charles Crews in Team Virage #20 had taken P3.

Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55 with Alessandro Pier Guidi, David Perel and Duncan Cameron had GTE Pole Position, ahead of Alessio Rovera, Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo in AF Corse Ferrari #88, while TF Sport Aston Martin #95 with Ross Gunn, John Hartshorne and Olli Hancock was in P3.

ELMS Monza 2021 start
Photo: JJ Media

It was a typical Monza start, with contact in Turn 1. DragonSpeed USA #21 crashed into the rear of Algarve Pro Racing #24, so both cars ended up in the run-off area. Luckily, both could continue without any help.

Michael Benham in RLR MSport #15 was hit on the first lap, so one of the tail lights was knocked off and had to be picked up by a marshal.

Inter Europol Competition #13 went up to the front of LMP3, after a good start by Martin Hippe.

Racing Team Nederland #92 had good progress and was up to P4, with a typically good start from Giedo van der Garde.

Graff #9 had a spin and stalled in Variante Ascari before continuing without any help.

There was an extremely close battle for the lead, where G-Drive Racing #26, United Autosports #22 and Team WRT #41 were within a few metres from each other.

AF Corse Ferrari #88 took the GTE lead from Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55.

Proton Competition Porsche #93
Photo: JJ Media

IDEC Sport #17 got a Drive-through penalty for crossing over the white line at the pit exit.

Panis Racing #65 outbraked themselves and cut through the chicane. They won a position from Racing Team Turkey #34, and was ordered to give it back.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 slowly but surely worked themselves up the GTE field again, one of them by overtaking Proton Competition Porsche #93

Racing Team Turkey #34 got a Stop & Go penalty for hitting G-Drive Racing #25 just after Variante Della Roggia, where Salih Yoluc had pushed John Falb off the track, sending the latter out in a wild spin. Falb luckily managed to regain control before the car hit the Armco.

United Autosports #22 finally took the lead of the race after thirty-five minutes. Phil Hanson had tried and tried, and finally, he outbraked Roman Rusinov in Turn 1. A few corners later, Team WRT #41 also came close to #26.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 had taken the lead of GTE after Rino Mastronardi overtook Francois Perrodo.

DKR Engineering #4
Photo: JJ Media

Proton Competition Porsche #77 was stuck in the gravel in Lesmo 2, where Christian Ried had a spin. It triggered a Safety Car, in order to get the car removed safely. Right before the SC went out, some LMP2 cars managed to pit, since they were close to their pitstop round anyway. It was very important as you can’t pit under Safety Car.

The restart was chaotic as G-Drive Racing #26 ran out of fuel and rolled very slowly towards the pit entry. It got Racing Team Nederland #92 to overtake the Russian before they reached the green flag, but they missed the pit entry and had to drive an entire lap with very little fuel left. They fell back to P38 before the car got a refuel.

Racing Team Turkey #34 went off the track in Lesmo 2, in true Rallycross style, but they could continue.

The day got even worse when G-Drive Racing #26 got a 10-second Stop & Go penalty, for breaking several rules under the Safety Car period. DragonSpeed USA #21 only got a Stop & Go for only breaking one rule under Safety Car.

Duqueine Team #30 and IDEC Sport #28 had a very intense battle for seventh place in the LMP2 category, where Patrick Pilet in #28 tried all the best and legal tricks he knew to get past Memo Rojas in #30 – without any luck.

AF Corse Ferrari #88 retook the lead in the GTE category again after doing a faster pitstop from Iron Lynx Ferrari #80.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #80
Photo: JJ Media

Graff #8 got stuck in Variante Ascari, which triggered a Full Course Yellow, to get Sebastien Page pulled free.

Several teams used the opportunity to refuel and change the drivers.

Panis Racing #65 had a perfect strategy and came out in the lead, after replacing Julien Canal with James Allen.

Graff #8 limped back to the pits, where one of the rear tires was punctured, and there was more damage on the left corner, which could indicate contact with another car.

Racing Experience #12 had a solo spin in Parabolica but could continue, even though Tom Cloet went off the track and the wiper blade was blown off.

There was a bit of debris in Turn 4, which caused another Full Course Yellow, so that the marshals nearby could clean it up.

RLR MSport #15 & 1 AIM Villorba Corse Photo: JJ Media

RLR MSport #15 was one of the LMP3 teams that used the FCY period to replace Michael Benham with Alex Kapadia. But the stewards had seen the lack of tail light on the car, and gave them a black and orange flag for a technical defect. It would force them to get back to the pits and put on a new tail light. The team, however, had no intention to pit right away. They continued on the track in fifth place.

Halfway into the race, Panis Racing #65 was leading LMP2, Cool Racing #37 in front of LMP2 Pro/Am, Inter Europol Competition #13 in LMP3 and Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 in GTE.

Suddenly, TF Sport Aston Martin #95 slowed down, and Ollie Hancock had to crawl back to the pits with a punctured left rear tire.

1 AIM Villorba Corse #18 and United Autosports #2 had an intense battle for P7 in LMP3, where #2 had to avoid going off the track in Variante Della Roggia and merge behind #18.

IDEC Sport #28 also got ordered to repair their tail light in their upcoming pitstop.

Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55
Photo: JJ Media

The temperature reached 30 degrees, with just over ninety minutes left on the clock. Meanwhile, the track temperature had gotten over 46 degrees.

DKR Engineering #4 had worked themselves up to the lead in the LMP3 category, but there were different fuel strategies, so we would only find out at the end of the race, which one was the best.

Algarve Pro Racing #24 and G-Drive Racing #26 got both a 5-second time penalty in their next pitstop, after #24 had pushed #26 down the pitlane earlier in the race, when Rusinov ran out of fuel.

RLR MSport #15 fell back to P13 in the class after repairing their tail light.

There was a bit of contact between Cool Racing #19 and 1 AIM Villorba Corse #18 in Variante Della Roggia.

Inter Europol Competition #13 got a 10-second pitstop penalty for a mistake in an earlier pitstop.

Algarve Pro Racing #24 & G-Drive Racing #25
Photo: JJ Media

The battle for first place in GTE got really intense between Matteo Cresoni in Iron Lynx Ferrari #80, and Ferrari factory driver Alessandro Pier Guidi in Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55. Pier Guidi had a better exit at the start-finish straight, and a little slipstream, so he could take the lead.

The last hour started with Panis Racing #65 in front in LMP2, Cool Racing in front in LMP2 Pro/Am, Inter Europol Competition #13 in front in LMP3, and Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55 in front in GTE.

BHK Motorsport #35 got en one-minute Stop & Go penalty for a mistake about the pitstop procedure during the first Safety Car. At one time, they were up to third overall, but it was because they had done something that wasn’t there in the rulebook.

Algarve Pro Racing #24 got a Drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

AF Corse Ferrari #88 & Proton Competition Porsche #77
Photo: JJ Media

There was a huge drama with forty minutes left on the clock as a collision happened between DKR Engineering #4 and Nielsen Racing #6, right in front of United Autosports #22, who had to drive wide over the gravel in Lesmo 1. The stranded Nielsen Racing #6 triggered a Full Course Yellow, in order to get them out of the gravel. #6 ended up with a warning for blocking #4.

JOTA #82 managed to come out of the pits ahead of Team WRT #41, in the battle for third place in the race. The fight started again as soon as the race got restarted. Louis Deletraz in #41 tried to drive past Jazeman Jafaar from the inside, but he had to use some part of the pit entry, on the way down the straight. He got reported to the stewards right away since you’re not allowed to do it, unless you’re about to drive to the pits.

DKR Engineering #4 was out in the gravel in Lesmo 2 but quickly came back without losing the lead in LMP3. The team had a gap of half a minute down to United Autosports #2 in second place.

Graff #9 & JOTA #82
Photo: JJ Media

Both Team WRT #41 and JOTA #82 got a warning for what they did in the restart, where #41 drove the wrong way around a bollard when they got squeezed by #82. Meanwhile, #41 had lost over seven seconds to #82.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 got a Drive-through penalty for overtaking under Safety Car earlier in the race. AF Corse Ferrari #88 got a 5-second pitstop penalty after driving over the white line at the pit exit.

There was a tense battle between Cool Racing #19 and Inter Europol Competition #13, who had contact under the braking into Turn 1, so #13 had to take the shortcut through the chicane.

Realteam Racing #70 had a spin in the last minute of the race, but Esteban Garcia could continue after the mistake he made under braking.

Panis Racing #65
Photo: JJ Media

Panis Racing #65 with Will Stevens, Julien Canal and James Allen took the first victory for the team in the LMP2 category, ahead of United Autosports #22 with Phil Hanson, Jonathan Aberdein and Tom Gamble, while JOTA #82 with Jazeman Jaafar and Sean Gelael finished in third place, in their guest appearance in ELMS.

G-Drive Racing #26 with Roman Rusinov, Mikkel Jensen and Franco Colapinto had to be happy with P8, after a fantastic finish by the Dane where he took the car back to the points.

LMP2 Pro/Am was won by G-Drive Racing #25 with Roberto Merhi, John Falb and Rui Andrade, ahead of Racing Team Turkey #34 with Charlie Eastwood, Salih Yoluc and Logan Sargeant, and with Ultimate #29 with Matthieu Lahaye, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye, and Francois Heriau in P3.

DKR Engineering #4 with Laurents Hörr and Mathieu de Barbuat won the LMP3 category, ahead of United Autosports #2 with Wayne Boyd, Rob Wheldon and Edouard Cauhaupe, while Inter Europol Competition #13 with Mattia Pasini, Ugo de Wilde and Martin Hippe snatched P3 on the very last lap from Cool Racing #19 with Niklas Krütten, Matt Bell and Nicolas Maulini.

Spirit Of Race Ferrari #55 with Alessandro Pier Guidi, Duncan Cameron and David Perel won the GTE class, ahead of Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 with Rino Mastronardi, Miguel Molina and Matteo Cresoni, while AF Corse Ferrari #88 with Emmanuel Collard, Francois Perrodo and Alessio Rovera finished third.

TF Sport Aston Martin #95
Photo: JJ Media

Team WRT #41 keeps the lead in the championship, with G-Drive Racing #26 still in second place, and United Autosports #22 in third.

G-Drive Racing #25 still leads LMP2 Pro/Am, ahead of Racing Team Turkey #34, and with Ultimate #29 in P3.

Cool Racing #19 is still leading the LMP category, with DKR Engineering #4 in second place, and Inter Europol Competition #13 in third.

Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 hangs on tight to their lead in the GTE championship, even though Spirit Of Race #55 has come closer. AF Corse Ferrari #88 is still in third.

Now, the European Le Mans Series will take a little break as we’ll have the 24-hour race at Le Mans in a bit over a month’s time, where several teams will compete. ELMS will be back on 19 September at Spa Francorchamps, with another four-hour race.

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