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Porsche perfect podium

Porsche perfect podium

Estre, Lotterer and Vanthooor take honours and seal the first Hypercar Win for the Porsche 963

The No. 6 crew of Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Andre Lotterer sealed the German manufacturer’s first WEC win since 2017, and the first-ever in the series for a LMDh car, surviving a late scare when Estre had to make an emergency stop to replace a number plate.

But the No. 93 Peugeot 9X8 suffering a problem on the penultimate lap while running second meant that the podium was completed by the No. 12 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche finishing second and the No. 5 Penske Porsche in third.

The No. 6 Porsche of Estre was leading the race comfortably, a lap ahead of the No. 93 Peugeot, when the French driver was involved in an incident the No. 87 Akkodis ASP Lexus RC F GT3 of Takeshi Kimura in the penultimate hour at Turn 3.

That left the car with left-side bodywork damage and without its illuminated car number plate on that side, which eventually prompted Estre to be called into the pits on lap 328 of 335 for a sticker bearing the No. 6 to be attached to the left-hand sidepod.

However, Estre left the pits with 40 seconds in hand over the No. 93 Peugeot of Jean-Eric Vergne, who looked on course to deliver the French manufacturer’s best finish with the 9X8 prior to the problem that dropped it down to seventh at the checkered flag.

Peugeot led the opening hour of the race thanks to a strong opening stint from Nico Mueller, and the Swiss driver managed to close a 30-second deficit down to nine seconds at the six-hour as the French marque opted to put medium tires on the car, but this strategy backfired and Vergne was left defending from the JOTA Porsche of Callum Ilott in the closing stages.

After Vergne suddenly slowed, Ilott brought home the No. 12 machine he shares with Will Stevens and Norman Nato for second, 33.297 seconds down on the winning No. 6 car and just one second clear of the No. 5 Penske Porsche in third.

The car shared by Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki and Matt Campbell lost ground earlier in the race with two separate tire vibration issues, both of which occurred while Christensen was at the wheel.

The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R of Alex Lynn, Earl Bamber and Sebastien Bourdais recovered from a first-lap incident with the No. 94 Peugeot to bank fourth by virtue of eliminating a pitstop over the course of the race, giving LMDh cars a sweep of the top four places.

Best of the LMH cars was the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Yifei Ye, Robert Shwartzman and Robert Kubica in fifth, ahead of the top Toyota GR010 Hybrid at the finish, the No. 7 machine of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Nyck de Vries.

Vergne, Mueller and Mikkel Jensen were classified seventh in the No. 93 Peugeot ahead of the No. 50 Ferrari of Nicklas Nielsen, Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina, which was delayed by an early drive-through penalty and then suffered another problem later in the race.

Alpine scored points on its WEC debut with the new A424 as the No. 35 car shared by Charles Milesi, Ferdinand Habsburg and Paul-Loup Chatin came home in ninth place ahead of the second of the Toyotas, the No. 8 machine of Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley.

BMW’s top finisher in the first WEC race for the M Hybrid V8 was the No. 20 car of Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns and Rene Rast.

Lamborghini Iron Lynx brought home the solo SC63 in 15th for its debut, while the Isotta Fraschini Tipo 6 Competizione retired with a suspension problem.

Porsche claim the first win of the LMGT3 era

In the LMGT3 class, Manthey PureRxcing scored victory with the No. 92 Porsche 911 GT3 R shared by Aliaksandr Malykhin, Joel Sturm and Klaus Bachler, marking the first win for a Lithuanian-flagged team in a FIA world championship.

The battle for the first-ever class win in the new category was fought between the Manthey PureRxcing entry and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo of Alex Riberas, Daniel Mancinelli and Ian James, which finished only 4.8 seconds down at the finish.

Bronze-rated driver Malykhin put the No. 92 in the lead of the race early on with a strong opening stint, with the Porsche enjoying an advantage as high as 20 seconds with a little over two hours to go before Riberas closed the gap on Bachler late on.

D’station Racing made it two Aston Martin teams on the podium, as Marco Sorensen, Erwan Bastard and Clement Mateu defeated the No. 46 WRT BMW M4 GT3 entry shared by Maxime Martin, Valentino Rossi and Ahmad Al Harthy for the final podium spot.

The top five was completed by the best of the AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3s, the No. 54 car of Davide Rigon, Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci.

After scoring the first pole of the LMGT3 era, TF Sport’s No. 81 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R was a non-finisher, with an early gear shift issue putting the car that Tom van Rompuy started at the head of the field in the garage before its race was ended by an electrical problem.

The only other non-finisher was the No. 78 Akkodis ASP Lexus RC F GT3.

Despite having a time limit of ten hours, the Qatar 1812km ran to its full scheduled distance of 335 laps, which was completed with around four minutes on the clock.



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