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Toyota Triumphs in Imola Outsmarting Porsche and Ferrari

Toyota Triumphs in Imola, Outsmarting Porsche and Ferrari

22/04/2024

In a thrilling Imola showdown, Toyota clinched victory with strategic prowess, overshadowing Porsche and an error-prone Ferrari in a rain-impacted race.

At its first appearance in Imola, the WEC experienced a highly competitive race impacted by rain, which completely shuffled the hierarchy in the Hypercar category. Ultimately, it was Toyota, despite not having the fastest car this weekend, that triumphed with car no. 7 driven by Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway, and Nyck de Vries, narrowly defeating Porsche Penske no. 6 thanks to sound strategic decisions when the track became wet.

Toyota Triumphs in Imola Outsmarting Porsche and Ferrari

However, Ferrari AF Corse had been leading the race on home turf with its two cars and appeared set to delight the tifosi, but a poor tire strategy, triggered by the onset of rain in the fourth hour of the race, led to the Ferrari 499P no. 50 and no. 51 falling back in the standings. Nicklas Nielsen, Miguel Molina, and Antonio Fuoco later climbed back to finish fourth, with Fuoco overtaking Toyota no. 8 after Brandon Hartley lost time at the Tamburello chicane on the final lap.

The New Zealander and his teammates, Sébastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa, therefore had to settle for fifth place. The Ferrari no. 51 driven by Antonio Giovinazzi, James Calado, and Alessandro Pierguidi finished seventh, ahead of the third Ferrari, no. 83, notably driven by Robert Kubica, which was also at the forefront at the start of the race before losing ground due to a penalty.

Kevin Estre, André Lotterer, and Laurens Vanthoor, winners of the first round in Qatar, retain their lead in the world championship thanks to a solid performance that elevated them to second place, after Estre had put prolonged pressure on Kobayashi towards the end of the race, ultimately finishing just 2 seconds behind (in reality 7 after a 5-second penalty was applied). Their teammates in Porsche Penske no. 5, Matt Campbell, Frederic Makowiecki, and Michael Christensen, completed the podium.

The BMW M Team WRT achieved its best result in WEC to date after Rene Rast, Robin Frijns, and Sheldon van der Linde crossed the finish line in sixth position, the team having been slowed by a drive-through penalty towards the end of the race due to a pit lane infraction.

The new Peugeot 9X8, driven by Nico Müller, Mikkel Jensen, and Jean-Eric Vergne, finished ninth overall, scoring points in the team’s first race with the addition of a rear wing. Cadillac Racing drivers Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn rounded out the top 10, driving the Cadillac V-Series.R.

BMW claims a double victory in LMGT3, Rossi on the podium

The BMW M4 no. 31 of Team WRT, driven by Augusto Farfus, Darren Leung, and Sean Gelael, secured a beautiful victory by perfectly judging the conditions in LMGT3, marking the Bavarian brand’s first win in this category in WEC.

They managed to defeat their sister car no. 46 from Team WRT driven by Maxime Martin, Valentino Rossi, and Ahmed Al Harthy, making it a perfect day for the Belgian team. Meanwhile, the MotoGP legend achieves an impressive home result, and his progress will be interesting to watch this season.

Thanks to a bold strategy of staying on Goodyear slick tires despite wet conditions in the third sector of the Imola circuit, car no. 31 was able to assert its authority in the last two hours. Farfus took the lead from Maxime Martin in the penultimate hour after executing a clever maneuver on the Belgian at the Variante Alta chicane.

The podium was completed by the Manthey PureRxcing team consisting of Joel Sturm, Aliaksandr Malykhin, and Klaus Bachler, who continue their excellent start to the season in the Porsche 911 GT3 R. The winners of the inaugural race had led from pole position, but they lost the lead when they switched to rain tires at the beginning of the fifth hour. They still maintain the lead in the championship thanks to this result.

The Ferrari 296 no. 55 of Vista AF Corse driven by Simon Mann, François Heriau, and Alessio Rovera achieved its best result of the season with a fourth place, after leading for a short period in the hands of Heriau during the second hour.

The top 6 was rounded out by the Aston Martin from the Heart of Racing team of Ian James, Daniel Mancinelli, and Alex Riberas, and the McLaren no. 59 from the United Autosports team driven by Joshua Caygill, Marino Sato, and Nicolas Pino.

The WEC will resume in three weeks in Belgium for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (May 9-11).

Toyota Triumphs in Imola Outsmarting Porsche and Ferrari

6H of Imola

P.Team#DriversLapsTimeDif
1TOYOTA RACING7M. Conway, K. Kobayashi, N. de Vries205
2PORSCHE PENSKE MOTORSPORT6K. Estre, A. Lotterer, L. Vanthoor205+7.081s7.081
3PORSCHE PENSKE MOTORSPORT5M. Campbell, M. Christensen, F. Makowiecki205+25.626s18.545
4FERRARI AF CORSE50A. Fuoco, M. Molina, N. Nielsen205+31.469s5.843
5TOYOTA RACING8S. Buemi, B. Hartley, R. Hirakawa205+33.777s2.308
6BMW M TEAM WRT20S. Linde, R. Frijns, R. Rast204+1 Lap12.769
7FERRARI AF CORSE51A. Pier Guidi, J. Calado, A. Giovinazzi204+1 Lap14.122
8AF CORSE83R. Kubica, R. Shwartzman, Y. Yifei204+1 Lap1.782
9PEUGEOT TOTALENERGIES93M. Jensen, N. Müller, J. Vergne2032 laps
10CADILLAC RACING2E. Bamber, A. Lynn203+2 Laps20.774

Toyota Triumphs in Imola, Outsmarting Porsche and Ferrari. Toyota Triumphs in Imola, Outsmarting Porsche and Ferrari.

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