TOYOTA GAZOO Racing won the 6h Portimão and won again in the second round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa, in the GR010 HYBRID #8, managed a perfect test at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, winning with lead laps for Ferrari #50 and Porsche #6. GR010 HYBRID #7 finished ninth with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez losing 11 minutes.
April 16, 2023 – Following their victory at Sebring, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing won the 6 Hours of Portimo in the second round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa, the reigning world champion and 2022 Le Mans winner in the Toyota GR010 HYBRID #8, performed a perfect race at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, ahead of the #50 Ferrari to win by 6.
However, GR010 HYBRID #7 had the opposite passion for Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez. After winning the starter race at Sebring four weeks earlier, they finished the Portuguese race in ninth place. Race officials ordered a sensor replacement and that pit stop cost them 11 minutes.
The win for Toyota’s electrified hypercar meant Toyota extended its lead over Ferrari in the Gazoo Racing world championship to 18 points, with five races to go in the endurance championship. Sébastien, Brendon and Ryo move to the top of the drivers’ standings with an 11-point lead over the No. 50 Ferrari team. Mike, Kamui and Jose are two points behind in third place.
On a hot Algarve Sunday, the action on the track was lively and 2 Toyota GR010 HYBRIDs started from the front. At the first corner, Mike moved ahead of Sebastien, who had started from pole position and dropped to third when the #51 Ferrari pulled away. However, Sebastian managed to recover with a daring overtake on the fourth lap.
Mike managed a five-second lead, but the slower car laps allowed Sebastian to close the gap. The two GR010 HYBRIDs switched positions on lap 33, shortly before the first scheduled stop in the paddock, this time keeping the #8 Toyota ahead.
The race, however, had a dramatic moment after 80 minutes when the team was forced to change a left rear axle sensor on the GR010 HYBRID #7. According to hypercar regulations, performance is monitored by normal torque sensors on the driveshafts, which must work continuously. With the mechanics of cars #7 and #8 working together to completely change the car’s left rear in just 11 minutes, Jose restarted the race 34th, seven laps behind, but still hoping to score points. Two hours into the race, Sebastian was half a minute ahead of the No. 50 Ferrari when he handed the car over to Rio.
Rio extended the lead midway through the race and until the next round of fuel stops and tire changes, while Jose fought his way up to 22nd place. Brendan took the lead with two hours left in the race, while Kamui continued to recover the #7 car to score points.
Brendan kept up the pace at the front, leading the Ferrari by one lap at the end of the fifth hour, gaining a valuable advantage in a safety car field. This happened when the vanwall crashed and forced the safety car to enter the track.
When the race restarted after a 12-minute break, Brendan managed to stop his final fuel immediately without losing his lead and controlled the pace in the final corner of the Algarve circuit. The Toyota driver took the checkered flag after 222 laps, taking the team’s 41st victory in 78 races held in the WEC. Mike, who had set the fastest lap of the race at the start, finished last behind the wheel of car #7.
6 Hours of Portimão – Final Ranking
First #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing 222 laps
2nd #50 Ferrari AF Corse (Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen) +1 time
3rd #6 Porsche Penske (Estre/Lauterer/Vanthur) +1 time
4º #2 Cadillac Racing (Bamber/Lynn/Westbrook) +2 Voltas
5th #94 Peugeot Total Energies (Duval/Menezes/Muller) +2 volts
6º #51 Ferrari AF Corse (Pierre Guidi/Calado/Giovinazzi) +3 laps
9th #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing +7 laps