The Temple of Speed hosted Round 4 of the European Le Mans Series and one of the oldest circuits in motorsport didn’t disappoint to put on a show. Louis Delétraz took the chequered flag at the end of 4 Hours of Monza to finish P4 after a tough and eventful race.
The action started on Thursday with two Collective test sessions, where earlier in one of the sessions Louis put the car on top, setting the pace. However, the weather played havoc later on in the day seeing torrential rain.
Free Practice 1 was the first indicator of performance and Louis had placed the #41 ORLEN Team WRT in P3 after the 90-minute thrilling session and posting his best time of a 1.38:346, just a few hundredths off the top of the timesheet. The Swiss driver further improved through the 2nd 90-minute session in Free Practice 2, topping it with a faster time of 1.37:956.
Next up was the Qualifying session, and REMUS-supported driver continued his high-flying start to the race weekend by placing the car in P3 which meant the ORLEN Team WRT would start the 4 Hours of Monza from a second row on the grid.
The sun beamed across the Italian circuit on race day with dry track conditions and the ORLEN Team WRT were ready to fight for the win. It was time to settle the nerves and get the race underway with Yifei taking the first stint for the team. The race began without any complications and with Yifei pushing hard. He managed to overtake the #26 G-Drive car and moved up into P2 after 21 laps.
Unfortunately, on Lap 23 the first pit-stop for refuelling had happened during a safety-car period, which dropped the team down to P13.
Later there was another FCY, and the team decided to make their 3rd pit-stop handing the car over to Kubica whilst refuelling and changing the tyres.
It turned out to be quite an eventful race and on lap 53 the Belgian squad made their 4th pit-stop for fuel. After that Robert came back on track and overtook the #82 car to put the team back up into P4 and for a chance to fight for podium. On Lap 79, there was one final driver change and Kubica handed the #41 car over to Louis who would race on to the end. Racing with intent, Louis took the fight to the rest of the grid. On lap 104, there was another FCY and there was to be a final fuel stop before returning to the track in P4. Although Louis pushed as hard as he could the #41 ORLEN Team WRT #41 Oreca 07-Gibson took the chequered flag in P4 and claimed more points for the Championship.
The team now leads the ELMS Championship by 11 points from the #26 G-Drive. The next challenge awaits at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 21-22 August.
Louis Delétraz: “It was a tough race in Monza, but in the end it was a positive, because we managed to extend the Championship lead. The result wasn’t what we had hoped for but we will take it. The first Safety Car period surprised us, and this lost us some time from the top 3 and even the top 4 places in the race. Then we drove our own race and fought our way back to 3rd position. Due traffic in the pit-lane on our pit-stop we lost some more time, approximately 10 seconds and the position to P3. On pace, we were very similar, and it was difficult to catch the position back and chase for the final podium slot, so we finished and kept the 4th place. The team are doing a great job and we are improving every weekend and will continue to work hard.”