Published on June 14th, 2021 | by Joshua Chin0
Toyota Marks 100th Endurance Race With 1-2 At Portimao
This most recent win is also the 32nd victory of Toyota from its 100 endurance race entries.
Toyota Gazoo Racing has recently celebrated its 100th endurance race entry in style, by securing a 1-2 finish at the inaugural 8 Hours of Portimao race last weekend. Their second win of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season to date, the #8 GR010 Hybrid crossed the line just ahead of its #7 counterpart after 300 laps round the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal.
A race that initially looked to favour the #36 Alpine that took pole the day before, the sole LMP1 entry proved more than capable in the early hours of the race to fend off the two Toyotas that were right on its tail. Its smaller fuel tank unfortunately meant that it necessitated more fuel stops over the 8 hours, which hence eventually saw the two GR010 Hypercars edge further and further ahead as the race progressed.
The #36 Alpine did nevertheless manage to get a jump on the #8 Toyota when a safety car was called to rescue Miro Konopka’s stranded ARC Bratislava LMP2 car with 2.5 hours of racing to go, but an extra pitstop required by the former had sealed its fate to come home third when the chequered flag was eventually waved.
Speaking of the time when the chequered flag was waved, there was some Toyota team orders at play in determining which of the two GR010s would take the top spot at the end of the race. The #7 car driven by Jose Maria Lopez was initially allowed to take the lead from #8 of Sébastien Buemi after having gone for a quick splash and dash in the last hour. With Buemi managing to stay resolutely on the rear wing of the Argentinian however, the team then ordered the cars to switch back for the #8 car to take its second victory of the season.
Now moving further down the grid meanwhile, the twin JOTAs took home the LMP2 class wins by finishing fourth and fifth place overall. The sole Glickenhaus 007 LMH that made its racing debut in Portimao managed to see the chequered flag on its maiden race too, albeit 53 laps down on the leaders.
In the GTE Pro class on the other hand, the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo managed to snatch the class win from the polesitter #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19. A prancing horse also secured victory in the GTE Am class, with the #47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari coming out ahead at this round in Portimao.
Next up on the 2021 WEC calendar will be the inaugural 6 Hours of Monza in Italy. To occur from the 16th to 18th of July, this third race of the six-race season will mark the first time that an actual round of the endurance championship will be officially held at the Temple of Speed.
PRESS RELEASE: TOYOTA GAZOO Racing celebrated its 100th World Championship sportscar race with a one-two victory for its new GR010 HYBRID Hypercar in the 8 Hours of Portimao following a flawless performance in Portugal.
After missing pole position on Saturday, the team responded in style to win the second round of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and earn its 32nd victory from 100 races in the series.
Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley, in the #8 GR010 HYBRID, won a race-long battle with their team-mates to take victory by 1.8secs from World Champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in the #7 sister car.
With a second win from two races in 2021, following victory in the season-opening 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has extended its teams’ World Championship lead to 22 points. In the drivers’ standings, the #8 crew hold a 20-point advantage over #7 with four races remaining.
Following an exciting Hypercar battle at Spa last month, WEC’s first visit to Portugal witnessed another close battle. Every second counted from the moment Sébastien took the start behind the pole position Alpine with José in third.
Only 10 seconds separated the top three at the first fuel stops. Sébastien then briefly lead when the #36 stopped earlier. The Alpine requires additional pit stops over the eight hours due to a smaller fuel tank, but consequently benefits from a lighter fuel load and shorter stops.
When Mike and Brendon took over their respective cars at the first driver changes, shortly before the two-hour mark, an incredibly close race developed at the front. Only 10 seconds separated the top three, led by the Alpine from the #7 and #8 GR010 HYBRIDs, after 75 laps.
Early in his stint, Brendon was delayed badly behind an LMP2 car, just as Sébastien had been earlier, and this cost the #8 car second place. Mike was able to pass but during the next fuel stops, Brendon reclaimed the advantage by pitting a lap earlier. Then he again lost out to Mike due to heavy traffic.
As half distance approached, Kamui and Kazuki took over driving duties with a full pit stop advantage over the Alpine. That meant Kamui lead by 10secs from Kazuki.
The team therefore appeared to have the race under control until an LMP2 car got stuck in the gravel with just under three hours remaining. As a consequence the safety car closed up the field and brought the Alpine back into contention.
When racing resumed with two-and-a-half hours remaining, the Alpine soon took second from Kazuki and pressured leader Kamui before pitting. The GR010 HYBRIDs responded and rebuilt their advantage. The #7, in Jose’s hands, emerged as the leader ahead of Sébastien, who was saving fuel.
A full course yellow slowed the race with 30 minutes to go and José brought the #7 in for a short fuel stop. He returned to the track just three seconds behind Sébastien in the #8, setting up a tense finish. When José closed up to the #8 car, team policy allowed him the opportunity to take the lead and pull away. However, Sébastien was able to stay directly behind so José was asked to reverse the order as per protocol.
Sébastien therefore crossed the line to take the #8 GR010 HYBRID’s second win of the season and maintain its 100% winning record, with José following directly behind and the #36 Alpine 1min 8.597secs further back after 300 laps. Hypercar battle will resume in Monza, Italy on 18 July.
Hisatake Murata, Team President
“A one-two victory is the perfect way to celebrate our 100th World Championship race. Thank you to the drivers, engineers and mechanics for doing a great job. We had to fight for this win and it was exciting to see the top three Hypercars battling for every tenth of a second. There was no room for mistakes from anyone; I was pleased to see us work as one team, giving our maximum without error. Well done to Alpine as well, who followed up their impressive qualifying with a big challenge in the race. We enjoyed competing against Glickenhaus for the first time as well and we look forward to the battles to come. The Hypercar class is really coming to life and I expect the fans can enjoy many close fights in the next races. After all our testing at Portimao, this was actually the first WEC race in Portugal. Thanks to everyone there for making the teams welcome and delivering a safe event. Now we look forward to Monza, where we won our first World Championship race in 1992. We hope to put on another good race and repeat that result.”
8 Hours of Portimao results:
1st #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 300 laps
2nd #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1.800secs
3rd #36 Alpine (Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxivierre) +1min 8.597secs
4th #38 JOTA (Gonzalez/Da Costa/Davidson) +4 laps
5th #28 JOTA (Geleal/Vandoorne/Blomqvist) +4 laps
6th #22 United Autosports (Hanson/Scherer/Albuquerque) +5 laps