The ‘Temple of Speed’ – Monza’s iconic circuit in the park, just north of Milan – played host to the final rounds of the 2021 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and provided a worthy backdrop for Larry ten Voorde to secure his second championship title.
It would be a big weekend for the 32 cars arriving at Monza for the finale of the 2021 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. The Porsche 911GT3 Cup 992 car, new for this year, had proved a great success and would be able to unleash all of its 510PS around one of the fastest circuits on the championship calendar.
From the outset, all eyes were understandably on #25 Larry ten Voorde (NLD/Team GP Elite), who had a significant, but not unassailable, 25-point advantage in the championship standings. His closest rival was #20 Jaxon Evans (NZL/Martinet by Alméras), who would have to put memories of two dismal finishes – tenth place at Zandvoort, and twelfth at Spa – behind him, if he were to out-score the Dutchman in the standings.
But whatever the outcome of the race: with their different levels of driving skills and experience, fair sportsmanship and committed competitiveness, all the participants in the Porsche Supercup can consider themselves winners in 2021.
The one and only Free Practice.
Two races over the weekend did not mean any additional time for Free Practice, however: just the usual 45-minute session, now on Friday lunchtime, which gave everyone the opportunity to see whether there would be a challenge for the championship.
The limelight was initially stolen by #29 Laurin Heinrich (DEU/Nebulus Racing by Huber), who followed up his win at Zandvoort the previous weekend, by posting the first representative lap time. The 19-year-old rookie arrived at Monza not only leading the points standings in the Rookie Classification, but he also had a mathematical chance of taking overall points lead, if everything went his way.
It would be his team-mate, though, #28 Leon Köhler (DEU/Nebulus Racing by Huber) who would end up quickest in the session, in which virtually everyone set their fastest times in a frenetic final five minutes.
In fact, with five minutes of the session to go, no-one had gone quicker than 1m 50s, but on those last two flying laps no fewer than ten cars broke into the 1m 49s bracket, and as the chequered flag waved to end the session, there were 15 cars within a second of Köhler’s fastest lap time.
#11 Florian Latorre (FRA/CLRT) ended the session second-quickest, ahead of Heinrich and fellow-Rookie #19 Dorian Boccolacci (FRA/Martinet by Alméras). In the end, it was a lottery as to who got the best tow – but an indication of how important slip-streaming would be, both in qualifying and the two races.
Qualifying – two times to count.
With two races on the weekend’s schedule, but only one Qualifying Session – as usual over just thirty minutes, but unusually, at 10:25 in the morning – the organisers decided that drivers’ best lap time from the session would determine the grid for Race 1, and their second-best lap time would determine the grid for Race 2.
For this reason, it was going to be doubly important to use the second – usually better – set of tyres to the optimum, and not get caught out by track limit violations disqualifying a good lap time. Despite Monza’s reputation for wide-open spaces, it became clear early in the session that finding a traffic-free lap around the 5.7km of parkland would not be easy either.
Just over ten minutes of the qualifying had elapsed, when the red flag was shown, due to #33 Roland Berville (FRA/Martinet by Alméras) having made a mistake and spun out at the Roggia Chicane (T4/5). The car was quickly hoisted to a place of safety, and the session was able to resume without much delay. But even though the clock was stopped during the interruption, it meant that teams lost at least two laps getting back up to speed for the final twelve minutes of the session.
Topping the times at the end of the session was #2 Ayhancan Güven (TUR/BWT Lechner Racing), but the Porsche Junior driver would have to work harder in Race 2, as his second-best time was only seventh fastest of the second-best times. Larry ten Voorde drove like a champion: he may not have made the fastest time, but he was second, and his second-best lap would ensure that he would start from pole for Race 2. Not what his championship rivals had wanted.
Talking of championship rivals, Jaxon Evans still was holding out hope, but it was already looking like a long shot: fourth in qualifying for Race 1 and fifth for Race 2 meant that he would have to do some serious overtaking in both races.
The real fun was likely to come from the battle for Rooke honours, between overall front-runners Dorian Boccolacci and Laurin Heinrich. Heinrich held the upper hand in the standings, but Boccolacci would start ahead in Race 1.
Sadly, all of the times for #8 Fabio Scherer (CHE/FACH AUTO TECH) were disallowed as he had insufficient fuel on-board after qualifying, and he would start from the back for both races.
Race 1: 15 laps and a frantic start.
The circuit was bathed in evening sunshine as the cars took the unusual step of going through the start procedures on Saturday evening. The ambient temperature was 27 Celsius and the action was bound to be just as hot and the championship showdowns played out.
Florian Latorre should have been seventh on the grid, but started the race from the pit lane, leaving a gap on the grid. It was Ayhancan Güven’s first pole position of the year and he was keen not to lose its advantage. As soon as the red lights went out, he veered over to the right, but Ten Voorde had made a good start and was less than a full car length behind, leaving the Dutchman with nowhere to go but further to the right. They both finished up completely off the track, before the Turk relented, but although a stewards’ investigation was announced, no action was taken.
As the field filed through the Rettifilo chicane, Nebulus team-mates Heinrich and Köhler were side-by-side, but they managed to avoid losing out as the rest elbowed their way through. Ten Voorde definitely had his gander up, and challenged Güven hard through Lesmos, but then lost momentum, and fell away marginally. Jaxon Evans was using the tow, and by the time they got to the Ascari chicane the New Zealander was right on Ten Voorde’s tail.
A High-speed train!
At the end of lap 1, Güven led, from Ten Voorde, Evans, Boccolacci, Heinrich and Köhler – the whole field in one continuous train. However, as they braked for the Rettifilo chicane, Boccolacci was latest on the brakes and made a move to go around the outside of his team-mate. He got the move done, but Evans wanted the place back and bravely held on around the outside of the Curva Grande, but had to give way when they reached Rettifilo. All this squabbling among team-mates meant that Ten Voorde had been able to open a gap, however, that the two Martinet by Alméras drivers were unable to recover.
Evans was struggling, quickly losing the tow from Boccolacci and coming under pressure from Heinrich. The German Rookie made to pass at the Rettifilo chicane (T1) as they began lap 3, but was forced up the escape road and had to give back the position.
While Güven, Ten Voorde and Boccolacci were having a relatively quite race in the top positions, Evans was the cork in the bottle in fourth, with not only Heinrich, but Köhler, #12 Marvin Klein (FRA/CLRT) crawling all over the back of the green machine. It seemed unlikely that Evans would be able to hold on, but by a combination of good defensive driving, and good top speed on the straights, he managed to hang on.
Battles for lower positions.
Behind this there was another good battle going on between #17 Harry King (GBR/Parker Revs Motorsport) and #16 Simone Iaquinta (ITA/Dinamic Motorsport SRL), which would last the whole race long, for eighth place. The Italian managed to get past the Briton coming out of the Parabolica (now renamed the ‘Alboreto Curve’) on lap 12.
Further back, #31 Jukka Honkavuori (FIN/MRS GT-Racing) and #6 Christopher Zöchling (DEU/FACH AUTO TECH) briefly touched coming into the Alboreto Curve, while battling for twelfth place. Zöchling would fall back later on, possibly as a result of the damage sustained.
On lap 11 out of 15, it looked as if the positions might be settled. Ten Voorde could become champion by finishing in second place, but Boccolacci suddenly closed up on him. In a lovely clean move, Dorian went for the position at Roggia – up the inside – catching the Dutchman unawares. It was a move worth making as now Ten Voorde was immediately ahead of Jaxon Evans. If the Dutchman was in trouble, there could be life in the championship yet!
There was further drama before the end, as #9 Lucas Groeneveld (NLD/GP Elite) tried to go up the inside of Fabio Scherer at the Parabolica (Alboreto) and ended up spinning out.
It was a convincing win for Ayhancan Güven, who broke the tow early and was not threatened throughout the race. However, it was celebrations for Larry ten Voorde, who had scored enough points to secure the championship. In the ProAm Classification, #5 Nicolas Misslin (MCO/Lechner Racing Middle East) took the honours and sufficient points to secure the championship as well.
Race 2 – Sunday Situation Normal.
With two of the four championships completed, the destination of the title in the Rookie and the Teams Classifications were still to be settled in the final round of the 2021 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Championship as the cars lined up on the grid for Race 2. Once again, the race was held in perfect sunny conditions, and Larry ten Voorde, starting from pole position by virtue of his second-best qualifying time, wanted to ensure that Team GP Elite clinched the Teams title to add to his personal one.
As the race got underway, Ten Voorde moved across to the right on Laurin Heinrich in a similar move to Güven in Race 1. It wasn’t to the same extent – Heinrich’s tactic was to stay out of the way, and switch to the other side of the track to be alongside on the left side through the Rettifilo chicane. Ten Voorde hung on and managed to head into the Curva Grande ahead, with Dorian Boccolacci snapping at the heels of Heinrich in the battle for Rookie honours.
Through the Lesmo Curves for the first time Florian Latorre was right in the mix as well, getting himself between Boccolacci and Güven. Having lost his chances of the championship the previous evening, Jaxon Evans was having another difficult race. He desperately wanted to hold onto second in the championship, but had Heinrich, Boccolacci and Güven all ahead of him, and didn’t help himself by running wide through the Alboreto curve at the end of lap 1 and coming through in eighth place. Things didn’t get any better for Evans on lap 2, as he had to take to the escape road at the Rettifilo chicane and lost another two places.
Larry unable to escape the young chargers.
Try as he might, Ten Voorde couldn’t get away from the two Rookie contenders behind: Laurin Heinrich had designs on two race wins in two weekends, as well as an eye on the Rookie title. On lap 5, as they went into the Roggia chicane, Boccolacci dived up the inside of Heinrich and cleanly took second place.
Next time around, Ayhancan Güven was on the move, slotting the pink BWT-sponsored car past Florian Latorre and up into fourth position. #3 Dylan Pereira (LUX/BWT Lechner Racing) was having another of his weekends to forget – his win at Spa now a distant memory. He had managed to join in the leading pack, and was running in a strong sixth place, when #4 Tio Ellinas (CYP/Lechner Racing Middle East) made a move at the Roggia chicane. Pereira took to the escape road, but lost the position anyway, and had his mirrors full of Leon Köhler.
As the leaders went through the Roggia chicane on lap 10 (out of 15), Boccolacci locked up a front right-hand wheel and lost momentum through the chicane, which allowed Heinrich to get alongside as they went up towards the Lesmo Curves. It was another great passing manoeuvre, allowing the German back into second place.
Boccolacci in trouble, Güven and Latorre battling.
Boccolacci’s problems didn’t end there though, as he had a near-identical problem next time around, this time taking to the escape road and losing another two positions. As they completed lap 11, Florian Latorre got alongside Güven and nearly past, but the Porsche Junior driver held on to third place.
As they sorted themselves out, there was a coming-together behind between Boccolacci, Ellinas and Pereira, who tried to come out of the Rettifilo chicane side-by-side. Boccolacci lost three positions, back to eighth, Pereira ended up tenth, and Ellinas headed for the pits.
With two laps remaining Ten Voorde’s lead had crept up to 1.2s over Heinrich, 1.5s ahead of Güven, then Latorre, Köhler, Harry King and Jaxon Evans next up, taking advantage of Boccolacci’s ever-worsening handling. Dorian would manage to hang on to ninth place.
Harry King would get his best-ever finish for Parker Revs Motorsport in sixth place. He finished just over two-hundreths of a second behind (or rather alongside) Leon Köhler, who was right on the tail of a spirited duel that raged between Florian Latorre and Ayhancan Güven over the closing laps, which saw Güven just holding on to the podium position.
Larry ten Voorde and Team GP Elite – Perfection!
For Larry ten Voorde it was the perfect end to a perfect weekend and season. A double Porsche Supercup Champion, and Team GP Elite took the Teams Championship – a great birthday present for Team Principal Marc Schipper. The double-header format at Monza worked superbly – the two races ran without any major incident, but with plenty of drama, good clean driving and lots of overtaking. A wonderful demonstration of one-make racing.
Despite a woeful weekend, Jaxon Evans held onto to claim the vice-champion’s award and Laurin Heinrich the title in the Rookie Classification by finishing ahead of Harry King and Dorian Boccolacci.
Nicolas Misslin continued his domination of the ProAm Classification with his sixth win in a row, ahead of #23 Aaron Mason (GBR/Pierre Martinet by Alméras) and #15 Philipp Sager (AUT/Dinamic Motorsport SRL). Only one question remains: will Larry ten Voorde be back in 2022 for his hat-trick?