8 Hours of Portimao: Toyota celebrates 100th race with a 1-2  

Sebastian BuemiKazuki Nakajima and Brando Hartley led Toyota’s 1-2 onboard their #8 GR010 Hybrid at the 8H of Portimao in Portugal. The Toyota #7 of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and José María López arrived behind, sealing a very successful 100th WEC race for the Japanese team in the second round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) 2021. The Alpine Signatech #36 completed the champagne places at the Circuit of the Algarve. 

Alpine pole holder, Nicolas Lapierre, and his A480-Gibson led the opening stages, showing a slightly better pace than the Toyotas. The good performance of the LMP1, however, would ultimately prove insufficient to compensate for its short stints. One of the keys to Toyota’s success was precisely the fewest number of pit stops required by its cars. 

Toyota vs Alpine 

Toyota and Alpine alternated at the lead until an incident with the Miro Konopka’s ARC Bratislava LMP2 triggered a safety car. The race then restarted with two and a half hours to goBack into action and taking advantage of a Full Course Yellow period, both Toyotas (López and Buemi) engaged in a very close fight for the lead.

Then, Toyota’s strategist decided to intervene in order to prevent a damaging head-to-head between the teammates and ordered Buemi to give up the position to López suspecting his rhythm was higher than that of his partner. 

The Swiss driver, however, managed to keep hot on the heels of his teammate and so was given the lead back by his team, which he kept until the end. Three minutes later, Andre NegraoLapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere’s Alpine crossed the finish line in third position, more than a minute behind the Toyotas. 

LMP2: The JOTAs engage in a thrilling civil war    

As usual, the LMP2 class offered the most exciting show with a four-way battle for victory that lasted until the very end. During the first few hours, an exciting duel developed between Giedo van der Garde (Oreca # 29 of Racing Team Nederland Oreca) and Robin Frijns (Oreca # 31 of WRT), with the latter taking the lead until a couple of drive-throughs pushed them back again. 

The #22 of United Autosports and winner of the opening round at Spa, took advantage of the sanction but the real danger for his team came from the two Oreca 07-Gibsons of JOTA Sport. 

As it happened with the top class, the safety car triggered by Konopma also tightened the battle for the LMP2 lead between United Autosports, WRT and the two JOTAOn resuming the race, both JOTAs fought for victory until the very last minutes. Finally, local hero Da Costa took the win alongside Anthony Davidson and Roberto González (# 38) with the other JOTA (# 28) arriving in second ahead of United Autosport. 


Ferrari dominates GTE Pro 

Ferrari took a solid victory in the GTE Pro class at the 8 Hours of Portimao with the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo #51 by AF Corse. Poleman Kevin Estre led the first hour of the race in his Porsche #92.

But then the Ferrari shared by Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado overtook the German car, establishing a huge lead until the end. Miguel Molina’s #71 Ferrari took second to complete a fabulous 12, beating the Porsche #92 of Estre, Christensen and Neel Jani in boxes. 


GTE Am: Surprising victory from Ferrari  

Finally, the North West Aston Martin #98 led the GTE-Am category at the beginning of the race ahead of the  #47 from Cetilar Racing and the #54 Ferrari by AF Corse. When Paul Dalla Lana got into the English car, however, the Cetilar’s Ferrari shared by Antonio Fuoco, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Robert Lacorte took the lead until he won at the 8 Hours of Portimao. 

Images of 8 Hours of Portimao: Toyota Gazoo Racing.


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