The 3 Hours of Monza, the opening act of the GT World Challenge Europe - Endurance Cup, ended with seventh place in the Pro class for the Ferrari 296 GT3 crewed by Rovera-Nielsen-Shwartzman, while the other AF Corse - Francorchamps Motors car took eleventh place for Pier Guidi-Rigon-Fuoco. Thirteenth was the AF Corse-run 488 GT3 Evo 2020 in the Bronze category, while the ST Racing with Rinaldi car was forced to retire in Pro-Am.
The race in the Temple of Speed goes into the archives, with Prancing Horse cars improving over the weekend which, after the organisers’ BoP revision at Sunday’s qualifying led to greater driver competitiveness, although not quite enough to be in the battle for the triumph.
The start. With a 55-strong grid, there was some contact as the group hit the brakes going into turn one which prompted a Safety Car entry, neutralising the race for ten minutes. At this juncture, Alessio Rovera and Alessandro Pier Guidi in AF Corse - Francorchamps Motors’ number 51 and 71 296 GT3s, were holding thirteenth and fourteenth position in the Pro class. Louis Machiels, starting in the number 52 488 GT3 Evo 2020 (AF Corse), stayed out of traffic and defended seventh place in the Bronze class. Luck ran out, however, for Samatha Tan, who got involved in an accident, forcing the Canadian to retire due to damage to the ST Racing with Rinaldi 488 GT3 Evo 2020, shared with Isaac Tutumlu and Jon Miller.
Pro Class. One hour after the green flag, the opening stint of both AF Corse - Francorchamps Motors entries came to an end. Rovera, having produced a fine challenge to get into the top ten, handed the wheel over to Nicklas Nielsen, while Davide Rigon started his own race after a complicated pit stop due to heavy pit lane traffic, which saw the number 71 lose over 20 seconds. The Dane, mid-group, consolidated his position among the top eight, while the driver from Veneto in the middle of the pack struggled to keep pace with its ‘sister’ car.
The decisive phase of the 3 Hours of Monza occurred 52 minutes prior to the chequered flag when the 296 GT3s, following the same strategy to avoid pit lane traffic, delayed their stops. Robert Shwartzman would re-emerge on-track in seventh position and Antonio Fuoco in eleventh, starting an hour involving the maximum effort to defend positions. The Shwartzman, class of ‘99, making his race debut with a Maranello marque GT, crossed the finish line with a gap of 56'’197 from the winning number 98 BMW and Rigon 1'08'’406.
Bronze Class. After the stints of Louis and Jef Machiels, which allowed the 488 GT3 Evo 2020 to hold a position mid-pack, Andrea Bertolini climbed into the cockpit and made up ground to take seventh spot. In the final stages, the race was marked by a collision between the Sassuolo driver and the number 15 BMW at turn one, which was sanctioned with a 45-second penalty. The 3 Hours of Monza subsequently finished with a 13th place for the AF Corse car.
The calendar. The GT World Challenge Europe will be back in the spotlight with the 1000 Kilometre race at Paul Ricard, the first weekend in June, which will be followed by the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (1-2 July), the 3 Hours of the Nürburgring on 30 July, and Barcelona, on 1 October.