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