Doriane Pin completes 6H of Monza in P7
Iron Dame Doriane Pin was for the first time the selected driver for a FIA WEC qualifying session; after a challenging 6 Hours of Monza, Pin and her Prema Racing teammates were seventh in the LMP2 class.
A week after her 24 Hours of Spa, Doriane Pin returned at the wheel of a LMP2 prototype for the 6 Hours of Monza, fifth round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship.
Pin is contesting her rookie season in the LMP2 class and has impressed with her speed since the get go, with a second place finish at debut at Sebring followed by a fourth place at Portimao where the young Frenchwoman battled for the win alongside teammates Mirko Bortolotti and Daniil Kvyat.
Her strong pace went unrewarded at the big event of Le Mans - her first participation at the legendary race - after a crash for her former F1 driver teammate during the night took the #63 Prema Oreca out of contention.
The high-speed Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, last European round of the WEC season, was just as promising for the home team, this time with a revised line up: a clash with the DTM Norisring event for Mirko Bortolotti meant that Pin and Kvyat were joined by experienced racer, ELMS champion and WEC race winner Mathias Beche at the wheel of the #63 machine, whose mission was to help the crew to capitalize on the pace shown since the beginning of the season.
The trio was faster than the sister car in the two opening practice sessions, before entering qualifying on Saturday afternoon: for the first time in her prototype career, Doriane Pin was the driver selected to take part in the session that would set the starting grid.
Among a field of the very top LMP2 teams and drivers in the world, Pin showcased once again her extraordinary talent by qualifying in seventh position, having set a 1:39.976 that put the French driver 6 tenths off pole position - claimed by the #41 Team WRT Oreca driven by Robert Kubica.
Pin took the start of the race in front of 65,000 fans - and immediately had to navigate through chaos of the first lap, as the Hypecars battled for the lead into Prima Variante and several cars spun or went off.
Doriane fell to ninth and, in the hectic first laps, she couldn't avoid a contact with the #10 Vector Sport LMP2 Oreca - which cost Prema a 30 second time penalty.
From there, the team's strategy switched to a recovery plan; Pin had good pace and tried to recover, setting good laps; she made it back to sixth place before the pit stop at the one hour mark, when she handed over to Mathias Beche. The #63 Prema crew had already stopped 15 minutes into the race, when most of the LMP2 field took the opportunity to pit during the first safety car intervention.
After 1 hour and 8 minute of driving time, Pin's race was now in the hands of her teammates. Beche had good speed but would rejoin at the back of the class field and, in between pit cycles, he was up to fifth after a double stint. Daniil Kvyat was up next - and he mostly worked on tyre management through his stints.
Beche returned behind the wheel for the final hour of the race, when the team had settled in seventh place in class - despite a third safety car had played in their favor to reduce the gap to the cars ahead. All three drivers had speed for a potential top three finish, but they spent most of their stints either closing the gap or getting stuck behind other cars - thus struggling to capitalize on their real pace.
"It's not very easy to give a feedback today, we have to look at everything and understand why we missed a little bit of pace", Doriane explained. "Regarding the penalty, we got a contact while battling side by side. I try to avoid it, but was a bit too late."
"We had a safety-car that helped us recover, but we were still lacking a bit. We will work hard for Fuji because this team deserves more."
Pin, Beche and Kvyat ultimately crossed the finish line in seventh place among the LMP2 entries, securing six points for the championship. With unfortunate rounds at Spa and Le Mans, the drivers of the #63 Prema Racing Oreca now sit ninth in the standings with 41 points on the table.
"The result is disappointing for sure and we need to get back where we belong, where we were in the first couple of races, fighting for wins and podiums", Kvyat added. "We need a good reset and we will be in good shape for Fuji."
The team will in fact get ready for the next FIA WEC round on September 10th at Fuji Speedway, Japan, before the season finale in Bahrain. Despite misfortunes, Doriane Pin's first season in prototype racing has been a huge step in her career: from touring cars to GT3s in one season, then from dominant in the Ferrari Challenge with appearances in GTE and now consistently being among the fastest in LMP2 is progression that keeps turning heads also for Doriane Pin's standards.