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Toyota Claims Victory in Dramatic WEC Round 2 at Imola

Updated: Apr 23

Text: Adam Prescott

Images: Rick Kiewiet

The World Endurance Championship (WEC) Round 2 at Imola delivered a spectacle of racing drama and strategic twists as Toyota Gazoo Racing emerged victorious on Ferrari’s home turf. The race, marked by unpredictable weather conditions and intense battles, unfolded in a captivating display of skill and strategy.

LMDH Category: Toyota's Triumph

In the LMDH category, Toyota asserted its dominance with a stunning victory at the hands of Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid. Kobayashi, alongside teammates Mike Conway and Nyck de Vries, showcased exceptional performance amidst the challenging conditions.

Ferrari led the way after the start after qualifying 1st, 2nd and 3rd yesterday, and consolidated the lead during the first half of the race with the #50 and #51. The Italian hope of victory on home turf were dashed by a strategic gamble that backfired when rain descended upon the circuit. The decision to stay out on slick tires proved costly for the Italian manufacturer, as all three Ferrari 499Ps dropped down the order, squandering their earlier lead.

Toyota on the other hand, brought in both the #7 and #8 in the same lap, making up enough time to overtake the Italians together with the Penske Porsche's.

Decisive moment in the race: Toyota stops while Ferrari stays out

The second part of the race saw Toyota and Porsche engaging in a fierce battle for the lead, with Kobayashi fending off relentless pressure from Kevin Estre in the No. 6 Porsche Penske 963 Hypercar.

Despite facing multiple challenges, including a late charge from the pursuing Porsche, Kobayashi managed to maintain his composure and skillfully navigate the treacherous conditions. The victory marked a significant achievement for the No. 7 crew, securing their first win since the 2023 6 Hours of Fuji.

Estre in the Porsche came close in the final laps

Behind the Toyota's, (Penske) Porsche's and Ferrari's, BMW had a strong outing, acting as a challenger for the podium until a minor off and a drive through ended their charge. Peugeot might have some mixed feelings about the debut of the 9X8 with rear wing: the car ran more or less problem free, but in terms of speed, there are a couple of tenths needed to be found. After a difficult qualifying, the sole Cadillac V-Series recovered to p10 at the finish to claim the final point.

GT3 Category: WRT's Strategic Masterclass

In the GT3 category, Team WRT demonstrated strategic prowess with a remarkable one-two finish using their BMW M4 GT3s. Amidst changing weather conditions, WRT opted to keep both cars on slick tires throughout the race, a decision that proved decisive in the battle for class honors. Augusto Farfus, Sean Gelael, and Darren Leung in the No. 31 car secured victory after a hard-fought contest against their teammates in the No. 46 car, which faced a setback with a late drive-through penalty.

1-2 Victory for WRT

The pole-winning No. 92 Manthey Pure Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, initially a strong contender, faced challenges after opting for wet tires during the rain, ultimately finishing third.

Thrilling Battles and Spectacular Finishes

The race at Imola was characterized by thrilling battles throughout the field, with each team navigating the changing conditions and strategic complexities. From Toyota's hard-fought victory to WRT's strategic brilliance, the event provided fans with a spectacle to remember.

Looking Ahead

With the WEC season in full swing, the focus now shifts to the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, scheduled to take place in three weeks' time. As teams continue to refine their strategies and adapt to the challenges of endurance racing, the championship promises more excitement and drama in the races to come.


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