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Porsche: Tyre wear to blame for Toyota’s Spa advantage

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Porsche: Tyre wear to blame for Toyota’s Spa advantage
By:
May 8, 2017, 11:48 AM

Porsche says excessive tyre wear with its low-downforce specification car was to blame for its failure to challenge Toyota in last weekend’s WEC 6 Hours of Spa.

#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
#9 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Stéphane Sarrazin, Yuji Kunimoto, Nicolas Lapierre
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
Podium LMP1: third place Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, Porsche Team
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
Earl Bamber, Porsche Team
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson: Roman Rusinov, Pierre Thiriet, Alex Lynn
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima

The German manufacturer stunned Toyota by taking pole on Friday, but couldn't maintain its form on Saturday's race as the two TS050 Hybrids had settled into a one-two by the end of the opening hour.

Porsche salvaged third place with its #2 919 Hybrid of Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, who were delayed by a mid-race puncture and a late incident with an LMP2 car that necessitated a change of front bodywork, while the pole-sitting sister #1 car was fourth.

Team boss Andreas Seidl believed tyre wear – exacerbated by higher temperatures on race day than the preceding two days – was the main reason why the Porsches were outclassed by the high-downforce Toyotas, although both 919s easily had the measure of Toyota's low-downforce third entry.

"With our cars here in low downforce aero specification, we could not match the speed of the high downforce spec Toyotas because our tyre wear was simply too high," explained Seidl.

"But the third Toyota, with low downforce, we had under control. Comparing the time we lost in the pits due to the puncture, our performance was okay.

"We will now have our [last] endurance test next week in Aragon and then look forward to Le Mans."

While Porsche was able to come within six seconds of beating Toyota in last month's Silverstone season-opener, its #2 car finished 35 seconds behind the winning #8 machine of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.

Hartley nonetheless felt Porsche's Spa performance means the Weissach-based squad can head to next month's Le Mans 24 Hours feeling confident.

"The Toyotas were definitely very quick at the beginning," said Hartley. "In the hot temperatures the balance was quite different from what we had on Thursday and Friday.

"We were a bit unlucky with Earl and the puncture, which put us off-strategy, but the car was coming on strong at the end. We definitely were in the fight.

"Another podium, not the step we wanted, but we should still take some confidence going to Le Mans."

Hartley, Bamber and Bernhard currently sit second in the WEC points table on 33 points, 17 adrift of the victorious Toyota trio of Buemi, Davidson and Nakajima.

WEC points standings after Spa:

Pos.No.DriversCarPts.
1 8

 Anthony Davidson

 Sebastien Buemi

 Kazuki Nakajima

Toyota 50
2 2

 Brendon Hartley

 Earl Bamber

 Timo Bernhard

Porsche 33
3 1

 Neel Jani

 Andre Lotterer

 Nick Tandy

Porsche 28
4 7

 Mike Conway

 Kamui Kobayashi

Toyota 19.5
5

36

9

 Nicolas Lapierre

Alpine

Toyota

16
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