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Porsche secure 1-2-3 in Qatar – WEC-Magazin

Porsche secure 1-2-3 in Qatar – WEC-Magazin
3 Mart 2024 23:46

Porsche Penske Motorsport won its first FIA World Endurance Championship race since its return to the top category of sportscar racing last year at the 2024 1812km of Qatar.

The #6 Porsche 963 of Kévin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor and André Lotterer crossed the line 30 seconds ahead of the #12 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche and the #5 Porsche Penske Motorsport entry.

Porsche had been quickest all week at Losail International Circuit – firstly in the Prologue and then in Free Practice and Qualifying. The 963’s one-lap speed translated into excellent long-run pace, and both the works cars and the three privateer Porsches were able to put together quick stints at what appeared to be relative ease compared to the rest of the field.

The race was not without issue for the #6 crew, however, especially as the season-opener reached its denouement. Chasing hard in his final stint, Estre collided with the #87 Lexus RC F LMGT3 of Takeshi Kimura at the flat-out T14, sending the Japanese driver into the gravel trap. Controversially, it was Kimura who was reprimanded by the stewards and not Estre.

Damage to the Porsche 963 included a broken number panel – something cars are required to carry at all times – and so Estre was forced into the pits for quick stickering work, but emerged still with a healthy lead.

After a luckless 2023 in which privateers such as JOTA and Proton Competition appeared to have a better handle on the car than the factory squad, the Porsche Penske Motorsport team looked utterly transformed.

Peugeot the surprise challenger

Rapid stints from Estre and Vanthoor in the early stages had propelled the #6 to the head of the field by the end of the second hour, but a race-long battle with the race’s main surprise package – the #93 Peugeot 9X8 – ensued.

In the final appearance for the old-spec Peugeot 9X8 (with a new, reportedly winged, car expected to debut in Imola), the #93 crew of Mikkel Jensen, Nico Müller and Jean-Eric Vergne remained within striking distance for the majority of the race.

But in a heartbreaking twist of fate – redolent of Toyota’s final-lap anguish in the 2016 24 Hours – the 9X8 came to a standstill on the final lap, using its electric motor to complete the race. As driver Vergne failed to return to the pits and so was unable to enter parc fermé under the car’s own steam, the #93 was disqualified by the stewards.

Second for JOTA

Hertz Team JOTA picked up where they left off in 2023 and secured a well-deserved podium for their efforts. Will Stevens, Callum Ilott and Norman Nato barely put a foot wrong all race in the #12 Porsche 963 and at times even looked capable of taking the win.

Comfortably in the hunt for a podium finish for the majority of the ten-hour race, the #12 machine found itself battling hard in the final minutes. Driver Callum Ilott – making his Hypercar debut – had to use all of his skill to stay ahead of the hard-charging Matt Campbell in the #5 Porsche while also setting his sights on the Peugeot ahead.

The 9X8’s demise turned what was a battle for the rostrum into a fight for second place, but despite Campbell’s best efforts, Ilott was able to maintain his advantage and cross the line just a second ahead.

The #5 Porsche had suffered from a vibration early in the race, costing the crew time out on track. It was a testament to the German marque’s supremacy in Qatar that they were still able to finish the race in third.

Race to forget for 2023’s teams to beat

Ferrari and Toyota, who often set the pace in 2023, were nowhere to be seen in Qatar for the start of the 2024 season. While Toyota appeared to lack overall pace, Ferrari were punished for driver error and technical issues – including the rear section of the #50 499P detaching after contact with a GT car.

P6 and P9 for the Toyota GR010 Hybrids will have been a chastening experience for a team usually used to winning. As for Ferrari, it was the privately entered #83 499P of Robert Kubica, Robert Shwartzmann and Yifei Ye that posted the Prancing Horse’s best result with fifth.

Alpine with promising showing

Alpine were arguably the best of the newcomers to the Hypercar class, although Lamborghini and BMW also put in good showings in a race that was run at a truly relentless pace.

The #35 A424 of Paul-Loup Chatin, Ferdinand Hasburg and Charles Milesi finished in an impressive eighth position and was noticeably fuel-efficient, requiring only 9 pit stops to the 10 required by most of the rest of the field. Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns and Rene Rast brought the best-placed BMW M Hybrid V8 home in P11.

Porsche superior in LMGT3

The #92 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Manthey Purerxcing took the honours in the new-for-2024 LMGT3 category after a fantastic performance from Aliaksandr Malykhin, Joel Sturm and Klaus Bachler. Malykhin laid the groundwork for the win with an excellent opening stint, in which he established a 30-second advantage over his bronze-rated competitors. Second and third were the Aston Martins of Heart of Racing and D’Station racing.

Click here for a full rundown of results.

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