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Qatar 1812 WEC: Porsche dominates Qatar 1812 opener

qatar wec porsche

Porsche takes Hypercar clean sweep, GT3 win, in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) opening Round at Losail Circuit, in Qatar this past weekend, with heartbreak for Peugeot in the final minutes of an action-packed and tense race.

Very much under the radar as the opening round of the 2024 Formula 1 season inexplicably clashed with the WEC opener

Porsche Penske duo, Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer, and Laurens Vanthoor ultimately dominated a dramatic and entertaining Road to Le Mans Qatar 1812 km season opener to score Porsche’s first Hypercar era World Endurance Championship win for Penske Motorsport on Saturday.

The number 6 trio moved into the lead in the second hour and remained ahead all the way from there despite a late scare to stop and replace a number panel in the last hour.

It was dramatic behind them as Hertz Team Jota Porsche 963 trio Will Stevens, Callum Ilott and Norman Nato held the charging Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen Frank Makowiecki’s No. 5 Porsche Penske off, as they stole second from the struggling Jensen Müller Vergne Peugeot 9X8 Hypercar as it started to run out of fuel on the penultimate lap, to set up an epic Porsche clean sweep 1-2-3.

Porsche’s cup flowed even further over as Klaus Bachler, Joel Sturm and Aliaksandr Malykhin took their Manthey Porsche 911 R LM3 to a first-ever LMGT3 win from the James-Mancinelli-Riberas Corvette and Mateu-Bastard-Sorensen Aston Martin.

Moto GP legend Valentino Rossi, Maxime Martin and Amhad Al Marthy’s BMW held the Flohr-Castellacci-Rigon Ferrari off for fifth with the second, Leung-Galal-Farfus BMW sixth.

Ferrari led Qatar 1812 from the start

Qatar 1812 WEC: Ferrari Qatar 1812 opener

Getting back to the Hypercar action, Alessandro, Pier Guidi, James Calado Antonio Giovinazzi’s No. 51 Ferrari 499P swept around the front row 5 Porsche and number 8 Conway-Kobayashi-de Vries Gazoo Toyota to lead to lead the way at the start. The Cadillac made contact with the second Porsche. Slower traffic was soon a challenge as the Ferrari held the 6 Porsche and 63 Peugeot off.

The Peugeot used the heavy traffic to its advantage to force its way past the Porsche for second. It caught the Ferrari not long after, to move ahead in a clean move after about an hour. The winning Porsche then took advantage of the Peugeot making a slip while passing a GT3 car to seize a lead it would hold until the end. The Peugeot kept the leading Porsche more or less in check, with the Jota Porsches ever-present.

The Cadillac fought back to fourth after Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Sebastian Bourdais copped an early drive through for that first corner incident. Robert Kubica, Robert Shwartzman and Yifei Ye ended fifth in the new yellow 81 car.

Ferrari’s red effort was hindered by an early drive through penalty for the 50 car for a white line transgression at its first stop. Then the 51 car lost its entire rear section after contact with a GT3 car and fell to the back.

Toyota were never in the 1812 picture

Toyota were never in the 1812 picture wec qatar porsche winners

Surprisingly five-time champions Toyota were never in the Qatar 1812 picture. Its heavy, power-restricted cars clearly struggled throughout. The Number 8 Conway-Kobayashi-de Vries car ultimately came home sixth from the Fuoco-Molina-Nielsen 50 Ferrari.

The race went from bad to worse for the 93 Peugeot when the car was excluded from the results for not returning to the pits after it ran out of fuel as it spluttered home seventh on the road.

That left the way open to the best of the Hypercar newcomers, a delighted Alpine to take seventh on its return to the top class with Chatin-Habsburg-Milesi’s 35 entry.

The Number 8 Buemi-Hartley-Hirakawa Gazoo Toyota followed in eighth from the Tincknell-Jani-Andlauer Proton Porsche. Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns and Rene Rast were tenth on BMW’s WEC Hypercar debut.

Alpine best of the newcomers

alpine wec qatar

The second Mick Schumacher-Lapierre-Vaxiviere Alpine was followed by the recovering 51 Ferrari and the Bortolotti-Mortara-Kvyat Lamborghini on its troubled debut.

Even more troubled, the Vanthoor-Marciello-Wittmann BMW was16th. Ahead of the delayed di Resta-Duval-Vandoorne Peugeot in ultimately a disastrous race for the much improved French team. The Serravalle-Bennett-Vernay Isotta Fraschini finished well back.

The Qatar race ran to its full 1812 km distance saluting the country’s 18 December national day. The winning Porsche beat the 10-hour curfew by three minutes to lead what was ultimately a crushing Zufferhausen 1-2-3. Not only was this dominant first WEC win a clean sweep, but it was also a third Hypercar win on the back of the final allied IMSA US race win last year, and its January IMSA Daytona 24 victory.

All of which certainly leaves Porsche as the new Hypercar force. Of even greater concern to its rivals, the German carmaker plans to have a major upgrade including a new V8 engine, in place for the Le Mans 24 Hour in June. An all-new Peugeot is also in the works.

A perfect day for Porsche

World champions Toyota, Le Mans winners Ferrari and the rest will however be relying on the WEC’s now race-by-race Balance of Performance action to remedy their deficit in time for round 2 of the Road to Le Mans, Ferrari’s Imola 6 Hour home race on 21 April.

Road to Le Mans Toyota Gazoo WEC

2024 wec Qatar race result winners porsche