Cars

For the first time in its illustrious history, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza will host the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship and, after an eighteen month wait, the fans make a welcome return to the grandstands
Words – Ross Brown

Ferrari arrive at round three of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship at the top of the Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance rankings, in both LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am classifications.

With eleven Ferrari 488 GTE Evo’s taking to the circuit this weekend (two in LMGTE Pro and nine in LMGTE Am) the timing is perfect for Ferrari fans to finally return to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza after a long eighteen-month hiatus.
The World Endurance Championship consists of four categories; Hypercar, Le Mans Protype (LMP2) and the two GTE categories (LMGTE Pro and Am), meaning that no less than 37 cars will roar around the track for six-hours of racing in the glorious Italian sunshine. For the drivers, it’s the perfect opportunity to test their machines ahead of the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans in August. For the fans, it’s the chance to see flat-out endurance racing on one of the fastest tracks on earth.

All eyes up front: Ferrari go into 6 Hours of Monza having led the way at the previous 8 Hours of Portimao. The unmistakable red livery of AF Corse Ferrari's #51 and #52 who came in first and second in the Pro category, while the blue Cetilar Racing Prancing horse took the win in the Am race.

Although this is the first time Monza will host the World Endurance Championship, the circuit is no stranger to endurance racing. Known as The Temple of Speed, the original Autodromo Nazionale di Monza was built in 1922 as a vast ten-kilometre circuit with the famous high-speed banked oval being introduced in 1954. Today, with its long straights and sweeping fast corners, the modern 5.793 km circuit remains one of the world’s fastest tracks, but it also has a rich tradition of long-distance racing, in particular the event known as the 1000 Kilometres of Monza.

Part of The World Sportscar Championship series (which would be eventually become the FIA World Endurance Championship), Monza’s 1000-kilometre race was one of a stable of famous endurance events, including the Mille Miglia, Spa and Daytona. And in this series, from the 50s to the 70s, the Prancing Horse dominated, winning seven championships between 1953 and 1961 and in the process introducing the world to a stable of iconic and now legendary cars, including the fuel injected Ferrari 330 P3 and the Colombo V12 powered 250 Testa Rossa and 250 GTO (the latter arriving in 1962 to win The International Championship for GT Manufacturers, through to 1964).

For over two decades the Prancing Horse dominated endurance racing, with the world being introduced to the Ferrari 330 P3, the 250 Testa Rossa and Sergio Scaglietti’s beautifully designed 250 GTO. The Ferrari 330 P3 placed first at the 1000km of Monza in 1966

With Ferrari’s announcement in February that it will return to Le Mans in 2023 through its Le Mans Hypercar programme, the Six Hours of Monza endurance event has never felt more timely or relevant for fans of the Prancing Horse.

Whatever happens on the track next weekend it’s Monza’s famous fans and tifosi who are the true winners. Attending a race is a full family occasion in Italy and the love of racing runs so deep that it’s hard to think of the Temple of Speed without its 118k capacity crowd. Sadly, the Grandstands have been empty for over a year but the Six Hours of Monza will see the gates open once again on Sunday July 18th for a limited number of spectators. This paves the way for the Le Mans 24 Hours, which will host a crowd of 50,000.

After an eighteen-month enforced hiatus, famous Ferrari fans will make a welcome return to the grandstands this weekend for round three of the FIA World Endurance Championship

“It’s been a while since fans could attend a round of the FIA World Endurance Championship and I’m very much looking forward to seeing their presence at the grandstands at Monza,” said Richard Mille, FIA Endurance Commission President. “Owing to the decision of the government, as well as the efforts of the organisers and the promoter this will all be possible in safe conditions.”