Toyota won its 100th sports car race in Portimão yesterday, although Alpine, who drives a grandfathered LMP1, put the new Toyota GR010 Hybrid hypercar to work.
Alpine took pole position thanks to Matthieu Vaxivière, less than 0.1 second ahead of the Toyota of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley, with the second Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and José María López in third.
The Alpine pulled away from the lights and got the race pace to keep the Toyota honest throughout, thanks to the latest Balance of Performance formula and a late safety car. But the Toyota’s larger fuel tank saw it come out on top, as it could get away with fewer pit stops.
The American team Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus was also racing for the first time in the new LMH class, before other traditional manufacturers joined it and Toyota in the years to come.
His new SCG 007 was only 11th in qualifying, and although he finished the race, he was 54 laps behind the flag winner.
Controversial team orders
Previously, Toyota had frozen the positions of its cars during the last pit stops, but this time both cars were allowed to race to the finish. While that meant the race was thrilling until the end, it also caused some confusion, as Buemi was first ordered to cede the lead to López before the positions were reversed again.
It all flowed from a yellow full course end, which meant López dive for a splash and dash, emerging just behind Buemi. When the Argentinian closed the gap to the Swiss, the team ordered him to pass, with a team policy “allowing him the opportunity to take the lead and pull away”. But when López himself could not widen the gap, the positions were reversed and Buemi took the flag.
It was a bit confusing to watch the fans, but the change in policy was also understandable: allowing cars to fight against each other makes racing more exciting, which will be necessary this season, given that the upper class is so few in number.
Glickenhaus is in the learning phase
Unsurprisingly, given that this is a brand new car in an almost new class, Glickenhaus’s only entry was off the beat this weekend. Qualifying only 11th, his efforts were not helped when Ryan Briscoe tipped D’Station’s GTE Am Aston Martin Vantage into the race, knocking out the Porsche 911 RSR Dempsey-Proton at the same time and meaning the SCG 007 had spent a long time in the garage repairing the damage. Finishing at 54 laps was not the ideal result, but at least the car finished.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-14 14:50:07