The second appointment of the WEC season has finally arrived, a whole month and a half after the inaugural round in Belgium. The 8 Hours of Portimao is to take place this weekend at the Algarve Circuit, a first-time host for a WEC event.
Participants at this second round of the year are in for a real challenge as they battle with the many gradient changes and mix of slow and fast corners of the Portuguese track. Amongst the 32 vehicles taking the start will be the debutant SCG 007 LMH from the Glickenhaus team, which will measure itself against the Toyota and Alpine Hypercars.
The Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, which has already been host to several Formula 1 and MotoGP’s, will be the new stage for the kings of consistency to come head-to-head against each other.
The track is 4,692 meters long and consists of 16 turns. Its massive gradient changes and different style of corners make it a real roller coaster. This unique configuration will put the driver’s concentration to the test as well as pose a considerable technical challenge for the Hypercar, LMP2 and GTE vehicles.
In the top class, the big news is the debut of James Glickenhaus’ team. After delaying its WEC premiere, originally scheduled for the inaugural round in Spa, the moment of truth has finally arrived for the SCG 007 LMH.
For now, the American team will put only one car on the track with pilots Ryan Briscoe, Romain Dumas and Richard Westbrook behind the wheel. The line-ups of the rival teams have remained unchanged for the 8 Hours of Portimao. Toyota Gazoo Racing will enter its two GR010 Hybrids, with regulars Pechito López, Mike Conway and Kamuy Kobayashi at the wheel of #7 and Sebastian Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley in charge of #8. As for Alpine, André Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Mathieu Vaxiviere will alternate at the seat of the A480-Gibson #32.
LMP2: United Autosports tops the Standings
On the LMP2 category, there are eleven prototypes. Despite United Autosports’ show of strength in Spa, this time around everyone expects a more equal race.
The change of drivers in the leader’s Oreca #22 could suffer from the absence of local driver Filipe Albuquerque. António Félix Da Costa will give it all to shine at the wheel of the JOTA Sports’ Oreca #38 as the only Portuguese ‘home’ driver in the grid this weekend.
GT: Ferrari vs Porsche… and Aston Martin
Only four cars make up the LMGTE-Pro class. On the one hand, the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo #51 and #52 of AF Corse, driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, and Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra, respectively. On the other, the two Porsche 911 RSR-19 #91 and #92.
The LMGTE-Am class is the largest with a total of thirteen cars. The current leaders of the standings, the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #83 managed by AF Corse, will be the rivals to beat. Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nieseln and Alessio Rovera took the #83 to victory in Belgium.
Images of 8 Hours of Portimao: WEC.