Northwest AMR snatch the higher step of the podium from D'Station Racing at the death at Monza WEC 6hr

Sunday, July 18, 2021

What a way in ending another weekend of achievement for the many Aston Martin Racing Partner and Customer teams around the world but with two class podiums at today’s third round of the World Endurance Championship from Monza.

Racing at the home of Italian motorsport for only the first time in its relatively short history, the WEC had thirty-six runners on the gird today for a return to its customary six-hour race after its eight-hour affair at Portimao last time out. Limited crowds also welcome back to the circuit for the first time this year to see the #33 TF Sport of Ben Keating lead off the GTE Am class from its pole position with the #98 Northwest AMR of Paul Dalla Lana in P7 and the #777 of Tomonobu Fujii (a car that Satoshi Hoshino qualified) in tenth out of the fifteen class entries.

Under blistering clear blue skies and sunshine, the release of the pack actually amounted to little or no contact as the pass passed through the first chicane for the first time although Keating did have his ‘elbows out’ as the GTE Am Championship leading Cetilar Racing Ferrari chanced its arm for position.

As Keating began to gap the chasing Ferrari’s behind, Fujii was at the start of another of his infamous WEC charges through the pack getting up to P7 by the time of the first Full Course Yellow at the half hour mark. Dalla Lana came to the attention of Race Control after having short cut a corner gaining two places but only handing one back (to the #777 car) before being instructed to do so again.

Whilst a stranded Porsche in the gravel was being dealt with, most of the GTE Am class cars pitted for fuel – but not the #33 TF Sport car did as Keating extended his lead. Fujii pitted to hand over to his Team Principal Hoshino for the first of two consecutive stints from the Gentleman driver – stints that were perhaps his best to date aboard his #777 Aston Martin.

At the 90-minute mark, the #98 car of Dalla Lana suffered a literal near miss from the #8 Toyota as a brake issue aboard that Hypercar nearly took out the yellow Aston at the first chicane but worse was to befall the #33 car just after the second hour. Double stinting his tyres and flat spotting them whilst overtaking the #98 car earlier, a massive blow out of the left front caused huge front-end damage to Keating’s car but the American was able to get it back to the pits. A remarkable repair job by the TF Sport team then ensued but eleven laps down – their race was run!

By the halfway stage of the race, the #777 now had Andrew Watson aboard and he was obviously making up for lost time last time out at Portimao when an accident took out their car before his turn had come around. Throughout his double stint, fastest class lap after fastest class lap was recorded as he hauled the car up to P2 in class. Chasing them down was Marcos Gomes in the #98 car from a not-too-distant P3 in class – things were looking promising for Aston Martin!!

Two hours to go and still 30 seconds behind the class leading Porsche – then one hour and still basically the same gap as Watson tried as he might. Handing over to Fujii for the final hour, it was a straight race to the flag between him and Augusto Farfus who was now aboard the #98.

Another FCY for debris slowed the field down but at least didn’t close them all up again and after the green, Farfus was catching Fujii by at least a second per lap – it was going to be tight for the Japanese team! Six seconds behind before then – onto the final lap with only a splitter gapping the two Astons as finally Farfus made his move half away around to take P2 from the #777 car at the death.

That excitement left us with two Aston Martin’s claiming a podium position each with the #98 Northwest AMR in second place to the race winning #83 Ferrari. The D’Station Racing car claimed their first WEC podium position after fantastic drives from all three drivers as well as the team in pit lane. The #33 TF Sport eventually finished a distant P14 after their earlier woes.

These results change the GTE AM Championship table to the #98 crew going up to P3 (9.5 pts behind the leader) and the #777 up to P7 after their second points finish of the year. The #33 car drops to P6 as all head to Le Mans next month for the 24!!

Photo credits – AMR / WEC / Teams

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