Toyota Gazoo Hybrids remain unbeaten in 2023 World Endurance Championship (WEC) as the #8 car of Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley hung in to win the Portimão 6 Hour, chased by Ferrari and Porsche who ended second and third on Sunday.
In what was ultimately a comfortable victory from pole position for Toyota in the second round of the 2023 World Endurance Championship., the GR010 Hybrid continued its unbeaten start to the new season. They beat Nicklas Nielsen, Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco’s number 50 Ferrari 499P LMD Hypercar to second, while Porsche became the first LMDh manufacturer to score a WEC podium as Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Andre Lotterer stood on the third step after strong run in the number six 963.
Cadillac’s V-Series.R LMDh scored its second fourth place on the trot, while Peugeot made it five different manufacturers in the top five. The Number 8 Toyota passed its teammate off the line as James Calado moved up to second in the 51 Ferrari. He was soon re-passed by the 8 Toyota and eventually dropping to fourth behind its own teammate. The 50 Ferrari later benefited from the 8 Toyota’s stop, leaving the Ferrari to cruise to second, a lap behind the winning Toyota and ahead of the Porsche, Cadillac, and Peugeot.
It was not a perfect run for any of the top teams as all their second cars all hit trouble. The leading number 7 Toyota was ordered into the pits from the lead as it slipped to ninth as the team rectified a sensor issue. The 51 Ferrari ran into brake trouble and plummeted to sixth ahead of the second 93 Peugeot. It started a lap down after pre-race steering issue but recovered to seventh ahead of the Glickenhaus 007 LMH. The 5 Porsche lost significant time to a power steering problem to finish well down. And Jacques Villeneuve’s Vanwall suffered a brake fire before spinning off to bring out the safety car with an hour left to race.
United takes LMP2, Corvette GTE LM
Moving on to LMP2 United Autosport’s Oreca-Gibson 07s scored a compelling 1-2 as Oliver Jarvis, Josh Pierson and Giedo van der Garde overcame a five-second penalty to beat Phil Hanson, Frederick Lubin and Ben Hanley by all of 0.684 seconds. Rui Andrade, Robert Kubica and Louis Deletraz ended third in another Oreca Gibson. The lone Corvette made it two GTE Am wins on the trot as Nicky Catsburg, Ben Keating and Nicolas Varrone fought Alessio Rovera, Luis Perez Companc and lady racer Lilou Wadoux’s AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo off for the win, with all girl crew, Iron Dames Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey third in their Porsche 911 RSR.
It’s a short two weeks break to the Spa Francorchamps 6 Hour on the road to the Le Mans 24 Hour 10-11 June. Several new cars are expected to debut in Belgium in preparation for Le Mans.