Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley (#8 GR010 HYBRID) saw their winning run in the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship come to an end due to technical issues on their #8 GR010 HYBRID. The Spa-Francorchamps 6 Hours and Portimao 8 Hours victors finished 33rd overall at the 6 Hours of Monza.
A fuel pressure issue required a four-and-a-half-minute pit stop for the #8 Toyota. After returning to the track in 21st position, further misfortune struck immediately when the front-left corner required replacement due to a damaged hub. That cost the #8 12 laps and any chance of victory.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing extended its 100% winning record with the new GR010 HYBRID Hypercar thanks to a hard-earned victory. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, in the #7 GR010 HYBRID overcame challenges and strong Hypercar competition to earn their first victory of 2021, beating the #36 Alpine by 60.908secs after 204 laps to end their run of misfortune this season.
With that result, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing extends its lead in the manufacturers’ World Championship to 30 points over Alpine. Meanwhile the fight for the drivers’ crown has tightened, with the #8 crew now leading by only six points from their #7 team-mates, the reigning champions.
The race had look like being a close battle between the two GR010 HYBRIDs when Mike led the early stages in the pole-sitting #7, followed closely by Sébastien. Only a few seconds separated them during their first two stints but all that changed around 90 minutes into the race, just as Brendon took the wheel of the #8.
José built a lead over the chasing pack and, despite a safety car due to debris on the track, he held a 22secs lead at half distance. But the dramas continued for the sister car. Following another relatively brief trip to the garage, the team decided to change parts on the fuel system, a complex repair which cost 48 minutes.
But it was not over yet as an exciting race took further twists after Kamui took over the wheel of the leading #7. With less than two hours to go, the car stopped on the side of the track when he an error message on the dashboard. Kamui performed a power cycle and resumed, having lost around a minute and the lead of the race to the #709 Glickenhaus.
But that car only a few minutes in front though, before itself pitting for repairs. Kamui therefore led again until a puncture required a tyre change, setting up an exciting chase of the leading Alpine.
Kamui cut into the advantage before handing over to Mike, who set the fastest lap of the race as he continued to hunt down the leader. A full course yellow with 34 minutes to go gave the #7 a chance to make its final fuel stop and secure the lead, which Mike held until the chequered flag.
The team will now investigate the technical issues in detail back at its Cologne base as it prepares for the biggest race of the season, the Le Mans 24 Hours on 21-22 August. Action starts at La Sarthe with the official test day on 15 August.
6 Hours of Monza results:
1st #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 204 laps
2nd #36 Alpine (Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxivierre) +1min 0.908secs
3rd #22 United Autosports (Hanson/Scherer/Albuquerque) +4 laps
4th #709 Glickenhaus (Dumas/Mailleux/Westbrook) +4 laps
5th #31 Team WRT (Frijns/Habsburg/Milesi) +4 laps
6th #28 Racing Team Nederland (v.Eerd/Chatin/de Vries) +4 laps
33rd #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +43 laps