How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear
Despite going stride for stride for pace at Portimao, Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 couldn’t convert pole position into a sustained victory fight against Toyota. And due to rules and car limitations that are set in stone, the French manufacturer will be searching for solutions in its own battle of endurance.
The Toyota Le Mans Hypercars battled right to the end of the Portimao 8 Hours last Sunday in what on pace was actually a three-way battle. Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley led home a 1-2 for the Japanese manufacturer on a day that Alpine was a match for anyone on speed but not on fuel mileage.
Toyota had a faultless race at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve and therefore ended up making it two wins from two starts with the GR010 Hybrid at the start of the new era of the World Endurance Championship. Alpine had no issues either with its Gibson-engined A480 grandfathered LMP1, save for the one with which it started the race. There has been — and will be — no resolution to its inability to go the same distance between fuel stops as its LMH rivals. And for that reason, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Andre Negrao were effectively racing with one hand tied behind their backs.
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After a chastening opening to the season at Sebring that ended in an enormous accident, Toyota's #7 crew got their World Endurance Championship underway with victory at a treacherously slippery Spa to make up for its sister car's Sebring defeat to Alpine, as Glickenhaus's promising qualifying turned to disaster in the race
Calado "quite surprised" to beat Porsche in Portimao
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