24h Le Mans
FIA WEC – A one-two for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at the 8 Hours of Portimão
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing doubled down today at the 8 Hours of Portimão, second round of the 2021 FIA WEC season, with Alpine Elf Matmut rounding out the podium.
For its 100th race in the FIA WEC, Toyota was hoping for good results. The hybrid technology of the GR010 Hybrid, coupled with perfect strategy, allowed the team to extend each stint and therefore save precious time. In the end, the efforts de Sébastien Buémi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley were amply rewarded with the #8 Toyota winning the race ahead of the #7 sister car. Alpine Elf Matmut's #36 Alpine A480-Gibson crossed the finish line in third place.
Sébastien Buémi, winner: "It was a tough race. Fortunately, we were able to economize more fuel and avoid the last pit stop. The other driver line-up was very strong, but the strategies were not the same. I am happy with this result."
Glikenhaus Racing ended its rookie race in 30th place following a collision between the prototype driven by Ryan Briscoe and two LMGTE Ams. Shortly after his prototype's accident, James Glickenhaus: "During the first stints, Richard (Westbrook, Ed.) experienced tire pressure problems. Then the dust-up damaged the clutch. Of course we're here to race, so we're going to do everything we can to get back on the track."
Overall, the race saw many unexpected twists, namely a safety car deployment caused by an incident for the #44 Ligier JSP217-Gibson driven by Miroslav Konopka, followed by a full course yellow shortly before the checkered flag caused by High Class Racing's #20 ORECA 07-Gibson.
Hypercar top 3:
- #8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing – Sébastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima/Brendon Hartley (300 laps)
- #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing – Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/José María López
- #36 Alpine A480-Gibson – Alpine Elf Matmut – André Negrão/Nicolas Lapierrre/Matthieu Vaxivière
As always, the LMP2 class did not disappoint. The teams battled it out for the entire eight hours, without any clear future winner. Shortly after the start, local hero António Félix da Costa in the #38 ORECA 07-Gibson made contact with Tom Blomqvist driving the #28 ORECA 07-Gibson sister car, and JOTA Sport pulled off a tour de force by returning its two prototypes to the classification. In the final moments, da Costa emerged triumphant in the class.
Racing Team Nederland, often a top contender, had some bad luck just after the mid-race point when Job van Uitert hit an LMGTE Pro during an overzealous maneuver. Though Team WRT never let up, and after a difficult race, United Autosports USA's #22 ORECA 07-Gibson finished third behind JOTA Sport's #8 and #28.
LMP2 top 3:
- #8 ORECA 07-Gibson – JOTA Sport – Roberto Gonzalez/António Félix da Costa/Anthony Davidson
- #28 ORECA 07-Gibson – JOTA Sport – Sean Gelael/Stoffel Vandoorne/Tom Blomqvist
- #22 ORECA 07-Gibson – United Autosports USA – Philip Hanson/Wayne Boyd/Paul di Resta
Tire blistering due to excessive stress played a big role in the two GT classes. In LMGTE Pro, the #51 and #52 Ferrari F488 GTE Evos quickly took the helm, little by little widening the gap with the two German cars on their heels. Porsche had no choice but to wait for the temperature to cool down before going on the offensive. The delay gave AF Corse a one-two, the #51 Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado ahead of the #52. The #92 Porsche rounded out the podium.
LMGTE Pro top 3:
- #51 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO – AF Corse – Alessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado
- #52 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO – AF Corse – Daniel Serra/Miguel Molina
- #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 – Porsche GT Team – Kevin Estre/Neel Jani/Michael Christensen
LMGTE Am proved exciting as well, with Cetilar Racing's #47 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO shared by Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Antonio Fuoco winning the class. The second and top steps on the podium were claimed by Team Project 1's #56 Porsche and AF Corse's #54 Ferrari, respectively. TF Sport's Aston Martin Vantage failed to make it into the top 3 despite a podium finish at Spa-Francorchamps.
LMGTE Am top 3:
- #47 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO – Cetilar Racing – Roberto Lacorte/Giorgio Sernagiotto/Antonio Fuoco
- #56 Porsche 911 RSR-19 – Team Project 1 – Egidio Perfetti/Matteo Cairoli/Riccardo Pera
- #54 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO – AF Corse – Thomas Flohr/Francesco Castellacci/Giancardo Fisichella
D-Station Racing's #777 Aston Martin was forced to retire after contact with the Glickenhaus 007 LMH early in the race. Also involved in the dust-up, Dempsey-Proton Racing's #77 Porsche 911 RSR-19 never returned to the track.
The next round of FIA WEC Season 9, the 6 Hours of Monza, is set for 18 July in Italy.
For more info on the FIA WEC, go to the official championship website.