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Race report
WEC Portimao

WEC Portimao: Toyota beats Ferrari to continue winning run

Toyota continued its unbeaten start to the 2023 World Endurance Championship with a comfortable Portimao 6 Hours victory for its #8 crew of Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

The polesitting crew’s GR010 HYBRID headed the #50 Ferrari 499P of Nicklas Nielsen, Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco as Porsche became the first LMDh constructor to score a WEC podium with its #6 963 driven by Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Andre Lotterer.

Cadillac matched its Sebring 1000 Miles finish of fourth with its Chip Ganassi Racing-run V-Series.R LMDh while Peugeot made it five different manufacturers in as many positions after late brake troubles delayed the second Ferrari.

The victorious Toyota trailed its sister #7 machine for much of the opening hour after Mike Conway passed Buemi around the outside of Turn 2 at the start.

Buemi’s loss of momentum also allowed James Calado to get ahead in the #51 Ferrari, but the Swiss regained second on lap four and set about closing a gap that had stretched to beyond six seconds.

By the end of the hour, Buemi had Conway in his sights and took the lead into Turn 5, Conway putting up little resistance when he was delayed through the previous uphill right-hander.

The Sebring-winning Toyota was running second in hour two when it was shown a black and orange flag to replace a torque sensor, which cost seven laps and left it to finish ninth.

The main beneficiary however was the #50 Ferrari in which Nielsen – who briefly dropped behind Vanthoor at the start – had passed Calado in the first hour.

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Molina was never close enough to challenge the #8 Toyota, as Hirakawa continued to stretch its advantage, but the Ferrari enjoyed a trouble-free run to finish one lap in arrears at the finish.

Fuoco had just been lapped by Hartley when a right-front brake fire on Jacques Villeneuve’s Vanwall approaching the uphill Turn 10 caused the 1997 Formula 1 world champion to spin off at the next corner, bringing out the safety car with a little over an hour to go.

The #6 Porsche moved into third following Calado’s hand-over to Antonio Giovinazzi, when the Italian began to struggle with brake problems and dropped back into Estre’s clutches.

Estre took advantage of Giovinazzi’s caution in LMP2 traffic at Turn 13, with the Ferrari pitting just four laps later for its overheating brakes to be addressed.

Running out of sync meant it lost time stuck behind the second Porsche of Fred Makowiecki after Giovinazzi handed over to Alessandro Pier Guidi, but it was running fourth until brake problems caused Pier Guidi to run off the track at Turns 1 and 4 before he backed off the pace.

This allowed Alex Lynn to get ahead in the Cadillac, and gave Lotterer enough of a margin to top up for fuel with less than 10 minutes to go.

The Cadillac was another car to run off-sequence after Richard Westbrook flat-spotted his tyres entering the pits behind Nico Muller’s #94 Peugeot 9X8 LMH.

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

Photo by: Paul Foster

Although Westbrook quickly passed the two Ferraris, struggling with tyre warmup, upon exiting the pits he was soon forced to abandon a planned double-stint.

Pier Guidi’s reduced pace meant he also lost out to the #94 Peugeot Muller shared with Gustavo Menezes and Loic Duval, ultimately finishing sixth.

The #93 Peugeot driven by Paul di Resta, Jean-Eric Vergne and Mikkel Jensen had a quiet run to seventh after a necessary steering rack change before the start meant it joined the race a lap down.

It recovered to finish ahead of the Glickenhaus-Pipo 007 LMH, which was boosted to eighth by the problems for Toyota and the heavily-delayed #5 Porsche that spent time in the garage fixing a power steering problem.

United wins LMP2 battle

United Autosports claimed a 1-2 finish in the LMP2 class after a tense fight with Prema Racing.

Oliver Jarvis, Josh Pierson and Giedo van der Garde beat the sister ORECA-Gibson 07 of Phil Hanson, Frederick Lubin and Ben Hanley to the flag by 0.684s despite a five-second pit penalty that dropped it behind Prema heading into the final double stint.

Van der Garde, standing in for Filipe Albuquerque on IMSA duty at Long Beach, held the lead before handing over to Jarvis for the final time, but the penalty handed down for firing up the engine during refuelling meant the Briton rejoined behind newly-announced Lamborghini factory driver Daniil Kvyat.

#21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO: Diego Alessi, Simon Mann, Ulysse de Pauw

#21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO: Diego Alessi, Simon Mann, Ulysse de Pauw

Photo by: Paul Foster

Jarvis chased Kvyat after the safety car and rejoined ahead after coming in one lap later for their final stops. Kvyat, who had also incurred a five-second penalty earlier on for spinning the #10 Vector Sport ORECA of Ryan Cullen at Turn 5, also rejoined behind a fired-up Hanson and lost third in the closing stages to the #31 WRT ORECA of Robin Frijns when he was baulked at Turn 4.

Hanson, whose car had led the early stages in Hanley’s hands, closed on Jarvis in the final laps but was unable to mount a passing attempt.

Antonio Felix da Costa, Ye Yifei and David Beckmann took fifth in the #48 Jota ORECA ahead of their switch to the Hypercar class with a Porsche 963 at Spa, while the second Prema entry of Bent Viscaal, Juan Manuel Correa and Filip Urgan took sixth.

Corvette wins again in GTE

Corvette Racing made it back-to-back wins in the GTE Am class as Nicky Catsburg held off a determined late assault from Alessio Rovera’s AF Corse Ferrari.

On the first Portimao appearance for the Corvette C8.R, Catsburg secured victory for himself, Ben Keating and Nico Varrone with a stout defence from Rovera on the final lap, the Italian firmly rebuffed in his attempted move around the outside into the Turn 5 hairpin.

Rovera therefore had to be content with second in the #81 488 GTE Evo he shared with Lilou Wadoux and Luis-Perez Companc that had led at points in Wadoux’s hands.

The podium was completed by the Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR-19 shared by Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting which appeared comfortable in the middle phase of the race but lost time to a spin from Frey after the Swiss had been passed in the pits by Varrone.

WEC Portimao - Race results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Gap
1 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Japan Ryo Hirakawa
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR  
2 50 Italy Antonio Fuoco
Spain Miguel Molina
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Ferrari 499P HYPERCAR  
3 6 France Kevin Estre
Germany Andre Lotterer
Belgium Laurens Vanthoor
Porsche 963 HYPERCAR  
4 2 New Zealand Earl Bamber
United Kingdom Alex Lynn
United Kingdom Richard Westbrook
Cadillac V-Series.R HYPERCAR  
5 94 France Loic Duval
United States Gustavo Menezes
Switzerland Nico Müller
Peugeot 9X8 HYPERCAR  
6 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Ferrari 499P HYPERCAR  
7 93 United Kingdom Paul di Resta
Denmark Mikkel Jensen
France Jean-Eric Vergne
Peugeot 9X8 HYPERCAR  
8 708 France Romain Dumas
Australia Ryan Briscoe
France Olivier Pla
Glickenhaus 007 HYPERCAR  
9 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR  
10 23 United States Josh Pierson
Netherlands Giedo van der Garde
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
Oreca 07 LMP2  
11 22 Frederick Lubin
United Kingdom Philip Hanson
United Kingdom Ben Hanley
Oreca 07 LMP2  
12 41 Portugal Rui Andrade
Poland Robert Kubica
Switzerland Louis Deletraz
Oreca 07 LMP2  
13 63 France Doriane Pin
Italy Mirko Bortolotti
Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat
Oreca 07 LMP2  
14 48 Germany David Beckmann
China Ye Yifei
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
Oreca 07 LMP2  
15 9 Filip Ugran
United States Juan Manuel Correa
Netherlands Bent Viscaal
Oreca 07 LMP2  
16 31 Indonesia Sean Gelael
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
Netherlands Robin Frijns
Oreca 07 LMP2  
17 28 Denmark David Heinemeier Hansson
Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi
Denmark Oliver Rasmussen
Oreca 07 LMP2  
18 36 France Matthieu Vaxiviere
France Julien Canal
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 LMP2  
19 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
Switzerland Fabio Scherer
Spain Albert Costa
Oreca 07 LMP2  
20 35 Brazil Andre Negrao
Mexico Memo Rojas
United Kingdom Olli Caldwell
Oreca 07 LMP2  
21 33 United States Ben Keating
Nicolas Varrone
Netherlands Nick Catsburg
Chevrolet Corvette C8.R LMGTE AM  
22 83 Argentina Luis Perez Companc
France Lilou Wadoux
Italy Alessio Rovera
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM  
23 85 Belgium Sarah Bovy
Denmark Michelle Gatting
Switzerland Rahel Frey
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM  
24 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Davide Rigon
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM  
25 21 Diego Alessi
France Simon Mann
Ulysse De
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM  
26 56 Miguel Pedro
Guilherme Moura
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM  
27 77 Germany Christian Ried
Mikkel Pedersen
France Julien Andlauer
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM  
28 25 United Kingdom Ahmad Al Harthy
Michael Dinan
Ireland Charles Eastwood
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM  
29 88 United States Ryan Hardwick
Canada Zacharie Robichon
United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM  
30 57 Japan Takeshi Kimura
United States Scott Huffaker
Brazil Daniel Serra
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM  
31 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
Italy Riccardo Pera
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM  
32 60 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Belgium Alessio Picariello
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM  
33 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Zimbabwe Axcil Jefferies
Denmark Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM  
34 10 Ireland Ryan Cullen
Matthias Kaiser
France Gabriel Aubry
Oreca 07 LMP2  
35 5 United States Dane Cameron
Denmark Michael Christensen
France Frédéric Makowiecki
Porsche 963 HYPERCAR  
36 4 France Tom Dillmann
Argentina Esteban Guerrieri
Canada Jacques Villeneuve
Vanwall Vandervell 680 HYPERCAR  
37 777 Japan Satoshi Hoshino
Casper Stevenson
Japan Tomonobu Fujii
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM  

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