The 3 Hours of Monza witnessed a dominant performance by ROWE Racing, as they achieved a one-two finish and handed BMW its first Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup victory in five years.
Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann, and Nick Yelloly led from start to finish in their pole-sitting No. 98 BMW M4 GT3, finishing 13.5 seconds ahead of teammates Dan Harper, Neil Verhagen, and Max Hesse.
It seemed that a BMW 1-2-3 result was on the cards, but an issue with the left-front Pirelli tire on Dries Vanthoor’s No. 32 Team WRT car forced it into the pits.
This promoted the No. 63 Iron Lynx Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 of Jordan Pepper, Andrea Caldarelli, and Mirko Bortolotti to third place, with Bortolotti just managing to secure a podium finish ahead of Sainteloc Junior Team Audi driver Patric Niederhauser.
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First Win for BMW M4 GT3 in GTWC Europe Endurance Cup
The race marked the first win for the BMW M4 GT3 in the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup and brought the Munich-based manufacturer to the top step of the series podium for the first time since the 2018 CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa. Eng led the season-opening race from pole position, holding off Valentino Rossi in the first chicane.
Maro Engel managed to propel the Mercedes-AMG Team Al Manar Racing from seventh to third, overtaking van der Linde and Harper in the process.
Two safety car periods impacted the opening hour of the race. The first occurred due to an accident at the start, when GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG driver Florian Scholze tangled with Samantha Tan’s Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, causing them both to crash into the barriers.
Another interruption took place 20 minutes into the race when Iron Lynx driver Rolf Ineichen went off-line to avoid an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II that missed its braking point into the Rettifilio chicane, which led to a collision between Lorenzo Patrese and Kay van Berlo.
Unraveling Hopes for Valentino Rossi
Engel managed to pass Rossi at the second restart half an hour into the race, but the former MotoGP star kept pace with the leaders and even set the fastest lap of the stint.
However, Rossi’s hopes of a maiden GTWC Europe podium fell apart when he ran too deep at Rettifilio, activating the anti-stall system on his BMW and costing him 12 positions.
The No. 46 car retired shortly after when Augusto Farfus encountered a left-rear puncture at the start of his turn.
Despite the setbacks, the BMWs continued their strong performance at the head of the field. Yelloly emerged from the pits with a three-second lead over Vanthoor. Although the gap closed slightly, Yelloly remained in control.
His lead suddenly increased when Vanthoor made an unscheduled stop for a new left-front tire, ensuring a one-two result for ROWE.
Comtoyou Racing Triumphs in Gold Cup Series Debut
In their series debut, the Gold Cup-winning Audi of Max Hofer, Nicolas Baert, and Maxime Soulet secured a win for TCR team Comtoyou Racing.
The team battled with the No. 30 WRT BMW for much of the race before pulling ahead after the final round of pit stops. The WRT team instead found themselves in a duel with Optimum Motorsport’s McLaren 720S GT3 Evo, which finished second after a Dean MacDonald move on Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer.
Comtoyou Racing also claimed victory in the Silver Cup with Loris Hezemans, Sam Dejonghe, and Finlay Hutchison.
The new Bronze Cup class saw top honors go to the Pure Rxcing Porsche crew of Klaus Bachler, Joel Sturm, and Alex Malykhin, while Barwell Motorsport prevailed in Pro-Am after Francesco Guerra was turned around by Andrea Bertolini, who received a 10-second penalty.
A Dream Sunday for ROWE Racing
ROWE Racing had a dream Sunday at Monza, with the No. 98 BMW M4 GT3 dominating the first race of the 2023 season and the Endurance Cup. While the No. 32 Team WRT BMW M4 GT3 posed a threat, a puncture on the left-front tire with less than 30 minutes remaining in the race allowed the No. 98 team to breathe easy.
With the Team WRT car out of the way, ROWE Racing managed the end of the race to secure a one-two finish with the No. 998 finishing second.
The Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 No. 63 of Iron Lynx (Bortolotti-Caldarelli-Pepper) completed the podium, while the No. 32 eventually finished in sixth place, nearly 45 seconds behind.
This victory marks the first time since the 2018 24 Hours of Spa and the first time in a 3-hour Endurance Cup race since the Paul-Ricard 2013 (June 30) that BMW has claimed victory.
Back then, the German manufacturer was racing the legendary Z4. The Comtoyou Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II No. 21 took the win in Gold, while the No. 12 secured victory in Silver.
In the new Bronze category, Pure Rxcing (Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) No. 911) took the win, while Barwell Motorsport (Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 No. 78) triumphed in Pro-Am.
Full Results GT World Europe – Monza 2023
|Rank||Car||Class||Team Driver||Best Lap||N° Laps||Pit Stops|
|1||98||PRO||Rowe Racing (BMW M)
|2||998||PRO||Rowe Racing (BMW M)
|3||63||PRO||Iron Lynx (Lamborghini)
|4||25||PRO||Sainteloc Junior Team (Audi)
|5||40||PRO||Tresor Orange 1 (Audi)
|6||32||PRO||Team WRT (BMW M)
|7||21||Gold||Comtoyou Racing (Audi)
|8||51||PRO||AF Corse – Francorchamps Motors (Ferrari)
|9||54||PRO||Dinamic GT Huber Racing (Porsche)
|10||96||PRO||Rutronik Racing (Porsche)
|11||5||Gold||Optimum Motorsport (McLaren)
|12||30||Gold||Team WRT (BMW M)
|13||87||PRO||Mercedes-AMG Team Akkodis ASP (Mercedes-AMG)
|14||71||PRO||AF Corse – Francorchamps Motors (Ferrari)
|15||911||Bronze||Pure Rxcing (Porsche)
|16||12||Silver||Comtoyou Racing (Audi)
|17||93||Bronze||SKY – Tempesta Racing (McLaren)
|18||79||Bronze||Haupt Racing Team (Mercedes-AMG)
|19||159||PRO||Garage 59 (McLaren)
|20||91||Bronze||Herberth Motorsport (Porsche)
|21||188||Bronze||Garage 59 (McLaren)
|22||35||Bronze||Walkenhorst Motorsport (BMW M)
|23||57||Gold||Winward Racing (Mercedes-AMG)
|25||90||Silver||Madpanda Motorsport (Mercedes-AMG)
Perez Companc Ezequiel
|26||157||Gold||Winward Racing (Mercedes-AMG)
|27||58||Silver||GRT Grasser Racing Team (Lamborghini)
|28||83||Bronze||Iron Dames (Lamborghini)
|29||31||Bronze||Team WRT (BMW M)
|30||78||PAM||Barwell Motorsport (Lamborghini)
|31||66||Bronze||Tresor Attempto Racing (Audi)
|32||15||PAM||BMW Italia Ceccato Racing (BMW M)
|33||10||Silver||Boutsen VDS (Audi)
|34||62||Bronze||Team Parker Racing (Porsche)
|35||8||Bronze||AGS Events (Lamborghini)
|36||52||Bronze||AF Corse (Ferrari)
|37||888||Bronze||CSA Racing (Audi)
|38||81||Bronze||Theeba Motorsport (Mercedes-AMG)
|39||56||Silver||Dinamic GT Huber Racing (Porsche)
Di Amato Daniele
|40||33||Silver||Bullitt Racing (Aston Martin)
|41||26||Silver||Sainteloc Junior Team (Audi)
|43||55||Bronze||Dinamic GT Huber Racing (Porsche)
|44||6||PRO||K-Pax Racing (Lamborghini)
|45||88||PRO||AKKODIS ASP Team (Mercedes-AMG)
|46||777||PRO||Mercedes-AMG Team AlManar (Mercedes-AMG)
|47||46||PRO||Team WRT (BMW M)
|48||24||PAM||Car Collection Motorsport (Porsche)
|49||11||PRO||Comtoyou Racing (Audi)
|50||99||Silver||Tresor Attempto Racing (Audi)
|51||19||Gold||Iron Lynx (Lamborghini)
|52||85||Silver||GRT Grasser Racing Team (Lamborghini)
van Berlo Kay
|53||9||Gold||Boutsen VDS (Audi)
|38||PAM||ST Racing with Rinaldi (Ferrari)