Autodromo di Monza, Italy
MAIDEN WIN FOR KEVIN ESTRE AT MONZA
Last weekend represented one of the top challenges this season in terms of tyre strategy for the four drivers fighting for the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Championship: René Rast (GER), Kuba Giermaziak (POL), Sean Edwards (GBR) and Norbert Siedler (AUT). All arrived in Monza to the pleasant surprise of sunny and warm conditions, with temperatures of 26-29 degrees Centigrade as backdrop for this weekend’s tough competition on the legendary 5.793-km Monza track.
After a difficult race, Kevin Estre’s win in the ninth round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup gave the Frenchman not only his first ever Supercup victory, but also the lead in the current Rookie Championship standings. Rast, finishing second, extended his lead in the driver standings of the Supercup championship, while guest starter Balzan finished third and Edwards left the race without points after an accident. Siedler moved up to fourth in the championship ranking, ahead of Tandy and Giermaziak, and Tudor-sponsored driver Patrick Huisman (NED) finished the race in seventh.
Rast was fastest in the free practice on Friday, although it was a true happy ending for Italian guest driver Balzan (Ebimotors), who finished qualifying in pole ahead of Rast, Estre and Edwards. The 14-lap race started at 11:45 sharp. Balzan seemed to keep the advantage from pole, but he lost the lead as Rast and Estre passed with an explosively quick start. The fight was tough, and as Balzan cut the chicane and re-entered the race line, he caused an accident between Edwards and Siedler, resulting in a safety car period. This small drama stopped Edwards, one of the four title contenders, with 11 laps to go in the race.
At the restart, Estre dashed ahead of Rast and clocked the fastest lap just two laps before the end. Balzan remained third and Siedler was fourth, followed by Tandy, Giermaziak, and Tudor-sponsored Huisman, who gained one position and remained in seventh. The race results are such that championship standings do not change and will remain just as exciting and open for the two last races of the season, with Rast in the lead with 141 points, outsider Giermaziak in second position with 124, and Siedler in third with 122 points.
Kevin Estre (Hermes Attempto Racing) commented, “I am delighted to be leading the rookie standings. It all came together as a happy ending and a dream come true. I am the winner of the race in Monza, I am really happy with my performance and the fact that my car is at a competitive level with small resources. I have never driven in Abu Dhabi yet so I am very eager to get there.”
Second place finisher René Rast said: “I had a good race despite the safety car. After the start, I was able to build the gap but the safety car sort of spoiled the race. After the restart, Estre was faster, overtaking me, and I did not try to block him. My points in the championship were more important than a better position. So next weekend for us, we can go to the Abu Dhabi races in good condition with good points. For now I am 17 points ahead of Giermaziak and 25 points ahead of Edwards so it looks positive.”
Alessandro Balzan, pole in qualifying and third in the race, was pleased with his results. “Wow, it is the first race of the season for our team, but Monza is my home track and I know the track well. We did a good job the whole weekend and I paid a lot of attention to finding the brake balance. So I am glad for the team that everything worked out well and that I made it to the podium here.”
Kuba Giermaziak was disappointed with his race, saying “to finish sixth in Monza is not fantastic. We had issue in the race with the speed of the car. Even our start was not too good but we needed some luck too. I moved ahead in the points and reached P2 in the championship, which no one expected and which is simply a fantastic dream. We should have time to test on the Abu Dhabi circuit prior to the race to refresh our memory of the track.”
Tudor driver Huisman had been hoping for a good start to the weekend that never materialised. “We had problems with new brakes, which was a pity because we know this track very well from testing; this track is all about tyres and braking. One needs good braking points, especially in turn 1 and turn 2, and then one needs to get as much speed as possible. In the end, I could not deliver as great a result as I wanted this weekend but still had a good race. I finished seventh after having started from 14th and this is one of my best results of the year, along with the Nuerburgring Nordschleife race. I am happy to have gained so many positions in the race and am looking forward to the last two races in the Abu Dhabi round.”