Köln, Germany,

6 Hours of Portimão: Qualifying


Portimão pole for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing swept the front row of the grid for the 6 Hours of Portimão after dominating the Hypercar competition in qualifying at the second round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season.

A brilliant lap by Brendon Hartley secured pole position for the #8 GR010 HYBRID which he shares with fellow World Champions and 2022 Le Mans winners Sébastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa. His lap of 1min 30.171secs is the fastest-ever Hypercar lap around the 4.653km Portuguese circuit.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will lead the 37-car grid away in Sunday’s race after Kamui Kobayashi completed a perfect result by taking second place in the #7 GR010 HYBRID he drives alongside Mike Conway and José María López, just 0.273secs behind.

A close fight had been anticipated in qualifying, despite the GR010 HYBRIDs topping all three practice sessions so far in Portimão, but exceptional laps from Brendon and Kamui left the other nine Hypercars in their wake. The #50 Ferrari was their nearest challenger, 1.425secs adrift in third.

In bright sunshine, both cars used the first part of the 15-minute session to get their Michelin tyres into the right temperature window before starting their flying laps.

Brendon, who set the best lap of this morning’s one-hour final practice, was the first Hypercar to set a competitive time and he laid down a challenge to the competition. Moments later he went even faster to secure pole position and the World Championship point which comes with it.

Kamui waited slightly later for his first flying lap and moved into second place. Unlike his team-mate, he did not improve on his next lap and settled for completing a one-two on the grid for Sunday’s race, giving the GR010 HYBRIDs a perfect starting position on a track where overtaking is challenging.

Kamui Kobayashi (Team Principal and driver, car #7): “We are a bit surprised by the gap to the other Hypercars because we expected qualifying to be much closer, based on the lap times in free practice. We worked a bit harder on qualifying set-up this week compared to Sebring because we wanted to get pole position and we will enjoy this feeling, but now we come back to race mode. I think my lap was quite good. I struggled a little bit because I didn’t get a lap on new tyres this morning, so my preparation wasn’t ideal, but I drove as well as I could. One-two on the grid is the best place to start so now we focus on completing the job in the race.”

Brendon Hartley (Driver, car #8): “That felt good. We put a bit more effort into qualifying this time and the car felt amazing over one lap. My lap was very clean and when I crossed the line, I knew it was good, which it had to be with Kamui so close behind. Our crew has done an amazing job so thanks to everyone. We made some good steps since first practice. It hasn’t been straightforward because we haven‘t been to this track for a while, so we had to work hard to get the set-up right and I didn’t expect to have such a gap today. Now we are focusing on the race, and I am expecting a big fight, particularly with Ferrari but Cadillac and Porsche as well. Their race pace looks strong so I am sure it will be close, but we are starting from the front.”

6 Hours of Portimão - Free Practice 3

1st#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing1min 31.795secs24 laps
2nd#51 Ferrari AF Corse (Pier Guidi/Calado/Giovinazzi)+0.189secs25 laps
3rd#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+0.278secs24 laps
4th#94 Peugeot TotalEnergies (Duval/Menezes/Muller)+0.943secs27 laps
5th#2 Cadillac Racing (Bamber/Lynn/Westbrook)+1.023secs24 laps
6th#4 Floyd Vanwall (Dillmann/Guerrieri/Villeneuve)+1.127secs22 laps

6 Hours of Portimão - Qualifying

1st#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing1min 30.171secs
2nd#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+0.273secs
3rd#50 Ferrari AF Corse (Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen)+1.425secs
4th#51 Ferrari AF Corse (Pier Guidi/Calado/Giovinazzi)+1.752secs
5th#6 Penske Porsche (Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor)+2.233secs
6th#94 Peugeot TotalEnergies (Duval/Menezes/Muller)+2.346secs


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