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TOYOTA GAZOO Racing wins the 6 Hours of Portimão
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing wins the 6 Hours of Portimão
- After winning the 1000 Miles of Sebring in March, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing won the 6 Hours of Portimão with the crew Buemi, Hirakawa, Hartley
- Faced with stronger competition than ever, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing increases its lead in the 2023 WEC manufacturers’ standings
Sébastien Buemi, Ryō Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley, who are the reigning world champions and 2023 Le Mans winners in the No. 8 GR010 HYBRID, put in an impeccable performance in Portugal, dominating the race and finishing a lap ahead on the #50 Ferrari and the #6 Porsche.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, who won the season-opening race at Sebring four weeks ago, had a more mixed experience in the No. 7 GR010 HYBRID. They had to settle for ninth place in Portugal after losing 11 minutes due to race officials ordering them to replace a regulation sensor on their car.
This latest victory allowed TOYOTA GAZOO Racing to increase its lead at the top of the World Constructors’ Championship by 18 points ahead of Ferrari, with five races remaining. Buemi, Hartley and Hirakawa took the lead in the drivers’ championship by 11 points over the crew of the No. 50 Ferrari. Conway, Kobayashi and Lopez currently occupy third place.
A particularly hot race for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
The action on track in Portimão was as intense as the weather! From the start, the GR010 HYBRID cars fought a close race. At the first corner, Conway passed Buemi, who started from pole position, who dropped to third place when the #51 Ferrari also managed to overtake him. However, Buemi managed to regain second place on the fourth lap with a courageous overtake.
Conway led by five seconds but was quickly slowed by backmarkers, allowing Buemi to close the gap. The two GR010 HYBRIDs swapped positions on lap 33, just before the first pit stops, but the #8 car maintained its lead.
After 80 minutes of racing, tensions rose a notch when the team received the order to change a left rear driveshaft sensor on the #7 GR010 HYBRID, in accordance with Hypercar regulations which monitor performance of cars with standardized sensors. The mechanics of the No. 7 and No. 8 cars worked together to change the entire left rear portion of the car in just 11 minutes, allowing Lopez to return to the race in 34th position but still with hopes of scoring points.
Meanwhile, Buemi had built up a half-minute lead over the #50 Ferrari, which he held until the end of the second hour of the race, before handing over to Hirakawa. Hirakawa increased his advantage at the halfway point, while Lopez fought his way back to 22nd place. Hartley took the wheel of the leading GR010 for the final two hours of the race, while Kobayashi returned to the points with the #7 car.
Hartley maintained the pace at the front and moved a lap ahead of the second-placed Ferrari at the end of the fifth hour, building up a comfortable safety car lead. This proved timely when the Vanwall crashed a few minutes later and a safety car regrouped the field.
When the race resumed after a 12-minute break, Hartley immediately made his final pit stop without losing the race lead to refuel. He then calmly completed the final minutes of the event to take the checkered flag after 222 laps, giving the team its 41st victory in 78 races in the WEC. Conway, who had set the fastest lap of the race at the start of the event, completed the final stint at the wheel of the No. 7 car.
The WEC season resumes in just two weeks with the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday April 29, the last round before the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 10 and 11.
Kamui Kobayashi (Team Principal and driver, car n°7):
” The win for the #8 car is great. They did an absolutely incredible job, without any mistakes, so they deserved this victory. Congratulations to the whole team. It’s a shame for car #7, because after spending so much time in the pits we no longer had any chance of getting a good result. Thanks to both teams for their excellent work, which made it possible to change the parts in just 11 minutes. I am proud of this great collective effort. The car behaved well throughout the race, we just had no luck today. We must prepare for the next test and continue to work hard. Spa is only a few days away and it’s an important race for all of us to prepare for Le Mans. We will put today’s bad luck behind us and focus on coming back even stronger, because we know that the competition is closing the gap. “
Mike Conway (Driver, car n°7) :
” Unfortunately, it was a difficult day for the n°7 car with this problem putting us out of contention. We came back and at least scored a few points, but at the end of the day this result is disappointing. Congratulations to the entire team of car n°8. They had a great race and deserved this victory, which is very important for the team. It’s a good day for one side of the pits and a bad day for the other, but we’ll be back to fight at Spa… and Le Mans is just around the corner. “
José María López (Driver, car n°7) :
” It looked very good for the n°7 car, as well as the team, with the aim of repeating the Sebring double. But unfortunately we had this problem. It was really unlucky and took our minds off things. But we never stopped fighting and we at least managed to score a few points; you never know how this will weigh in the world championship later in the season. Overall, it’s a good result for the team. Congratulations to car n°8, they had a great race. “
Sébastien Buemi (Driver, car n°8) :
” My teammates and the whole team did a great job. I feel sorry for car n°7, with this little problem that took away their chances. It was again a tough fight, like at Sebring. We came very close to winning there and we did it today, so it’s a very good feeling. We continue to work hard and we will try to come back even stronger at Spa. The competition keeps getting better and better, so we need to take as many points as possible when we get the chance. I’m happy to win again and we will try to keep this momentum going. “
Brendon Hartley (Driver, car n°8) :
” I am really happy. It was a great weekend from the start of testing. It was also a great race and everything went perfectly. No errors on the part of the drivers, nor during the pit stops, we had the right strategy and the car was faultless. It was a pleasure to drive from start to finish, so a big thank you to the team. I am proud of their excellent work during the first two races. We have maximized our performance using all the experience we have gained over the years because the competition is getting stronger and stronger. I’m thinking of car number 7. They were pushing us hard and I’m sure it would have been another close finish between us, as it often is. “
Ryō Hirakawa (Driver, car n°8) :
” The team did a perfect job, and I am very happy with this victory. Our car performed well and it’s very satisfying to win for the first time this season after missing out on victory at Sebring by two seconds. When I started my stint, we were already in the lead but I managed to increase, and therefore secure, the gap with the Ferrari. It was not easy to manage the race with the traffic on such a short circuit. I had to stay sharp so I’m pretty happy with my performance. I’m disappointed for the n°7 car, which was competitive all weekend. Spa is coming very soon and the whole team will try to be even stronger there. “
Results of the 6 Hours of Portimão
1st TOYOTA GAZOO Racing n°8 222 laps
2nd Ferrari AF Corse (Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen) n°50 +1 lap
3rd Porsche Penske (Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor) n°6 +1 lap
4th Cadillac Racing (Bamber/Lynn/Westbrook) n°2 +2 laps
5th Peugeot TotalEnergies (Duval/Menezes/Muller) n°94 +2 laps
6th Ferrari AF Corse (Pier Guidi/Calado/Giovinazzi) n°51 +3 laps
9th TOYOTA GAZOO Racing n°7 +7 laps