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Preview 1812KM of Qatar

Text: Rick Kiewiet

Images: FIA WEC, Rick Kiewiet

The winter pause is over, the Prologue is behind us; time to look forward to this weekends' 1812km of Qatar. Who were the eye-catchers of the two test days and which cars are likely to battle for victory Saturday?

First to mention in this respect is of course the Porsche 963. In all four sessions a 963 topped the list, with Fred Makowiecki lapping fastest in session 3 and 4, putting a 1:40:404 on the board. For reference: Max Verstappen's pole time in the 2023 F1 Grand Prix was 1:23:778. On Monday, JOTA topped the charts in both sessions.

Besides being the fastest car in every session, the 963 also displayed good reliability, running seemingly problem-free on both test days. Having already won this years' 24h of Daytona, Porsche seems to be in good form for the upcoming (+/-) 10 hour race.

If we take a deeper look into the best lap times over all four sessions, we should also recognize the Cadillac in P2. Sandwiched between two Porsche's, the Caddy might very well be a front-runner on race day.

Noteworthy is also the speed of the "private" #83 AF Corse 499P, being on the same pace as the factory-Ferrari's.

On the lower side of the table, there are also a couple of remarkable results. First of course the outright disappointing times of the Toyota's. P13 and P16 overall is beneath the car that dominated WEC for the last couple of years. On the one hand we can suspect them of severe sandbagging and state that "it's just testing", on the other hand, in an interview with Sportscar365, team principal Kobayashi stated that Toyota might struggle to score points in the race. The car being no less than nearly 1.4 seconds off the pace. Kobayashi suspected the cars' base weight of 1089 kg to be the main factor for the slower pace. Besides the tires seemed to cause some issues as well.

Despite encouraging positions in session 3, Peugeot still seems to miss a couple of tenths of pace as well. Where Toyota might have been taking it easy, chances a slimmer that Peugeot did the same. P9 and P10 aren't even that bad, but if you'd had to make a cut-off between the faster and slower half of the field, it'd be just in front of the Peugeot. The gap to the #6 Porsche ahead is 0.124s and we know that car is capable of a 1:40:404.

The gap of BMW to the faster part of the field might also be called significant. While the car seemed right on the pace in Daytona, it seems to miss at least 7 or 8 tenths of pace in WEC. Although it's a brand new car for WEC, the car has already been raced for a season in IMSA, setting it off from the other three newcomers Lamborghini, Alpine and Isotta Fraschini. The latter three are clearly still getting used to the car, although the pace of the Isotta might be a bit worrying being more than 1.6s slower than the car ahead.

In LMGT3, the field is closer together and it way too early to tell who's fast and who isn't. If we leave out the outlier, the #77 Proton Mustang who's almost 0.5s of the pace of the rest, the whole field is within 1.5 seconds. What might stand out the most, is that there's a lot of cars that could be in contention to win. The field appears very well balanced. Only Ford seems to miss a bit of pace, as you could expect BMW and Porsche not to have shown the back of their tongue.

The 1812KM of Qatar starts Saturday at 9:00 AM and can be seen on Eurosport 2 (UK and Mainland Europe), HBO MAX (USA) and Motortrend (USA).


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