Updated: May 3
PORTIMÃO, Portugal - Toyota Gazoo Racing continued its dominant ways in the FIA World Endurance Championship with another win in the 6 Hours of Portimão at the Algarve International Circuit with the No. 8 GR010 HYBRID shared by Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley.
The No. 8 Toyota, which started from the pole, finished ahead of the No. 50 Ferrari AF Corse 499P of Nicklas Nielsen, Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco. Porsche Penske Motorsport’s No. 6 Porsche 963 became the first LMDh manufacturer to score a podium finish as the team secured third-place, while Cadillac Racing finished in fourth-place with its No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R. The No. 94 Peugeot TotalEnergies completed the top-five overall.
Toyota's No. 7 GR010 HYBRID held the lead for most of the opening hour of the race, but after 80 minutes, the course of the race changed dramatically when the No. 7 team was given instructions to replace a sensor located on the rear-left drive shaft, mandated by Hypercar regulations. This repair requirement cost the No. 7 car a total of 11 minutes, which resulted in the car ultimately finishing in ninth-place.
“It was looking very good for car No. 7, as well as for the team to repeat the one-two from Sebring but unfortunately we had the problem”, José María López said. “That was really unlucky and it put us out of the picture. But we never stopped fighting and at least came back for a couple of points; you never know how that might affect the World Championship later in the season. Looking at the bigger picture, it is a good result for the team and congratulations to car No. 8; they drove a great race.”
The No. 50 Ferrari moved into second-place after Nielsen briefly dropped behind Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 6 Porsche 963 at the start, before passing James Calado in the No. 51 Ferrari in the first hour. This Ferrari enjoyed a trouble-free run to finish one lap behind the race-winning Toyota. The No. 6 Porsche moved into third-place following the driver change from Calado to ex-Formula 1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi.
However, the Italian began to struggle with brake issues, allowing Kevin Estre to catch up. Estre took advantage of Giovinazzi’s cautious driving in LMP2 traffic to move ahead, with the Ferrari pitting just four laps later to address its overheating brakes. The Ferrari lost time being stuck behind Fred Makowiecki in the other Porsche and ultimately finished in fifth place.
The No. 93 Peugeot 9X8 driven by Paul di Resta, Jean-Eric Vergne and Mikkel Jensen had a quiet run to seventh-place after a necessary steering rack change before the start, only joining the race a lap down. It finished ahead of the No. 708 Glickenhaus-Pipo 007 LMH, which was boosted to eighth, due to problems for the No. 7 Toyota and the heavily delayed No. 5 Porsche, which spent time in the garage fixing a power steering problem.
United Autosports secured a 1-2 finish in the LMP2 class after a tense battle with Prema Racing. Oliver Jarvis, Josh Pierson and Giedo van der Garde won in the No. 23, beating the sister No. 22 Oreca 07-Gibson of Phil Hanson, Frederick Lubin and Ben Hanley to the flag by 0.684s, despite a five-second pit penalty that dropped them behind Prema heading into the final double stint.
Van der Garde stood in for Tom Blomqvist, who was on IMSA duty at Long Beach, and held the lead before handing over to Jarvis for the final time. However, the penalty handed down for firing up the engine during refueling meant the British driver rejoined behind Prema’s newly-announced Lamborghini factory driver Daniil Kvyat. Jarvis chased down Kvyat to secure the win.
In LMGTE Am, Corvette Racing's No. 33 Corvette C8.R continued its perfect start to the 2023 season, with Ben Keating, Nico Varrone and Nicky Catsburg taking class honors in Portimão, after winning the season-opening 1000 Miles of Sebring.
The top-five finishers:
S. Buemi, B. Hartley, R. Hirakawa, No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing - Toyota GR010 HYBRID
A. Fuoco, M. Molina, N. Nielsen, No. 50 Ferrari AF Corse - Ferrari 499P
K. Estre, A. Lotterer, L. Vanthoor, No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport - Porsche 963
E. Bamber, A. Lynn, R. Westbrook, No. 2 Cadillac Racing - Cadillac V-Series.R
L. Duval, G. Menezes, N. Müller, No. 94 Peugeot TotalEnergies - Peugeot 9X8
The 2023 WEC season resumes in just two weeks with the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, April 29th, the final round before the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 10-11.