Normally this coming weekend, it would be all eyes on the events in France, this being the traditional weekend for holding the Vingt-quatre Heures du Mans, but with the world still in the grip of the pandemic and therefore nothing being normal, we are instead looking towards Portugal and the circuit of Portimao which is hosting round two of the World Endurance Championship.
The swoops and climbs are being used for the first time as a result of the cancellation of the Sebring event earlier in the year, and as a venue regularly used by the European Le Mans Series over many years, it will be interesting to see how the WEC contenders fair against the lap time performances of their ELMS cousins.
Alongside the regular pair of Toyota GR010s of Toyota Gazoo Racing, who incidentally are competing in their 100th WEC meeting, and the Alpine A480 of the Alpine Elf Matmut squad, this event marks the championship debut of the Glickenhaus Racing team from America, a single Glickenhaus 007 LMH being entered for experienced drivers Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Romain Dumas.
This has been built around a bespoke chassis and is powered by a Pipo Moteurs designed and built, but Glickenhaus badged, twin-turbo V6, producing 650 bhp in WEC race trim, but with no hybrid system and is rear wheel drive only. An interesting alternative approach to the other teams, we can only wish them well with their opening exchanges and hope they have no dramatic new car troubles to plague their endeavours, in the run up to Le Mans in August.
United Autosport lead the 11 car entry, having won convincingly at the previous round at Spa-Francorchamps, but with a slightly different driver line-up, in that Paul Di Resta returns to the cockpit for the first time since Bahrain at the end of 2020, replacing Filipe Albuquerque who has racing commitments elsewhere, meaning he unfortunately misses his home race.
Jota Sport are hoping to keep the championship pressure up on United though, their second and third places achieved through consistency over the run rather than just hot pace in qualifying, and the failures of others to have fault free runs.
Likewise, Racing Team Nederland will be hoping for more of the same in the LMP2 Pro/Am class, their class win being the first for this new category within LMP2, and rewarding their efforts over the recent seasons.
Hopefully, ARC Bratislava will be able to make the start this time, and have none of the pre-start dramas that they suffered on the way to the grid in Spa when their Ligier suffered a major fuel leak that could not be safely fixed in time for the race.
The straight Ferrari versus Porsche fight is set to be repeated in Portugal, the Balance of Performance given to both manufacturers being just about right at the moment. Porsche took round one, but the AF Corse squad, no doubt buoyed by the news that they have been chosen to develop and run Ferrari’s new hypercar, will be looking to keep up the fight and take the honours at the chequered flag.
Round one was a full on “bun fight”, with the order constantly changing before the teams of AF Corse (#83 Ferrari), TF Sport (#33 Aston Martin) and, newcomer to the category, Cetilar Racing (#47 Ferrari) took the podium positions. You can expect more of the same this time out, the various Porsche teams looking to fare better this time, and the new teams like D-Station and Iron Lynx gaining experience after stepping up to the world championship for this season.
Entry list –