TOYOTA GAZOO Racing extends 100% winning Hypercar record in Monza

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing extended its 100% winning record in the Hypercar era as Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López emerged victorious in an enthralling 6 Hours of Monza.

It was expected to be another close battle between the #7 GR010 HYBRID and the championship leading #8 Toyota of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley, but they saw their challenge ended with technical issues.

The race looked like being a close battle between the two GR010 HYBRIDs when Conway led the early stages in the pole-sitting #7, followed closely by Buemi. Only a few seconds separated them during their first two stints but after Hartley took the wheel of the #8, a fuel pressure issue led to a lengthy four-and-a-half-minute pit stop before it was decided to change parts on the fuel system, effectively ending their challenge.

“This was definitely not our day,” lamented Hartley. “But it is better we had a day like this here in Monza rather than at Le Mans. That is the one race of the year that we really want to win. We had a few issues with the fuel system which needed repairs, and then with the hub.”

It meant that the leading #7 looked set for a routine victory, but the drama was not over as Kobayashi was forced to pull over due to an error message on the dashboard. Losing the lead to the #709 Glickenhaus, the Japanese driver performed a power cycle to get the system running again and set about the new leading Alpine.

A further stop for fresh tyres as the result of a puncture meant that it would be a close run thing to the chequered flag. But the team was dealt a helping hand when a full course yellow with 34 minutes to go allowed the #7 a final fuel stop and the race lead, which Mike held until the chequered flag for a 60.908secs victory.

“It’s great to get a win here in Monza because it’s a great track and the fans were back as well,” said Conway after taking the flag. “The car felt solid all weekend and, as the weekend went on, it just kept getting better. In the race I am happy with the pace we had; we were able to pull away when we had to.

“At the end it was a bit touch and go obviously with the problem that Kamui had and also the puncture, but it didn’t change the result, it just made it a bit more interesting. To come home with our first win of the season is great. It’s a pit for the #8 car, they had a bruising day, but I’m really happy with the job we did on our car.”

The result means that the #8 crew’s lead is cut to only six points from their reigning champion #7 team-mates. The battle for the manufacturers’ crown is somewhat more comfortable, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing leading by 30 points over Alpine.

Next up it the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours on 21-22 August as the #8 crew look to defend the title they won last year.

Motorsport Technology