Updated: Apr 13
It's been 3,5 weeks since the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship at Sebring and round 2 is at our doorstep: Sunday the 17th of April the 6 hours of Portimão is on the menu. Let's have a quick look at the 37-car entry list.
Toyota won the 1000 miles of Sebring not only because of the raw speed of the GR010 and the experienced crew, but also on keen tire management. The other manufacturers in class, Ferrari, Cadillac and Porsche clearly got less laps out of the tires than the Japanese outfit. Portimão is most likely less demanding on the tires due to the asphalt there (although rough and its many fast kinks also stress the tires), so it will be interesting to see if this brings the field closer together in the race. In terms of qualifying pace, Ferrari and Cadillac were closest to Toyota's pace, as Ferrari even managed to claim pole in Florida.
It will be interesting to see how Peugeot will perform on a track that is not as bumpy as Sebring. The wingless 9X8, being more of an outright wing-car, suffered exponentially more from the far from smooth surface as the bouncing creates significantly more space under the car, lowering the ground effect and thus grip of the car. If Peugeot made any progress over the winter, they might be a force to be reckoned with on the much more even tarmac in the Algarve.
Both Porsche and Cadillac will be active on two fronts this weekend: both marques will also race their LMDh cars at Long Beach in the upcoming IMSA round.
As to that clash with the IMSA race at Long Beach, a couple of drivers are substituted due to conflicting schedules. In LMP2, Tom Blomqvist's place in the #23 United Autosports Oreca is taken up by Dutchman Giedo van der Garde. In the sister car, the #22, Filipe Albuquerque is replaced by Ben Hanley. Both Blomqvist and Albuquerque will be racing Acura's LMDh cars at Long Beach, the #60 and #10 respectively.
In the #9 Prema Lamborghini factory driver Andrea Caldarelli is replaced by Juan Manuel Correa.
JOTA brings another one of his Porsche 963 LMDh drivers, which are currently confirmed to make their debut at the 6hrs of Spa at the end of April, to Portimão: Antonio Felix da Costa will replace Will Stevens in the #48 JOTA LMP2 to take part in his home race.
In GT Am, two more Portuguese drivers will race on their home soil: Miguel Ramos and Guilherme Moura de Oliveira. They replace PJ Hyett and Gunnar Jeannette who have duties in Long Beach, Hyett as a driver in the #80 AO Racing Porsche, and Jeannette as the Motorsports Manager of the team. Ramos is two-times GT World Challenge Europe champion in the Pro-Am cup, while Moura de Oliveira has gained experience in ELMS, racing the LMP3 Ligier for Inter Europol.
Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: Toyota, Porsche, WEC
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