The WEC will make a first appearance in Portimão for an exciting eight-hour affair – let’s preview Round 2 on the Season 9 calendar.
It’s been five weeks since a thrilling season opener at Spa-Francorchamps, featuring numerous LMP2 scraps and the first Hypercar race victory.
The FIA World Endurance Championship has never been to Portimão to host any official rounds of the calendar, although the European Le Mans Series has held exciting four-hour races at the Algarve International Circuit for the past four years.
There are a handful of talking points worth mentioning as we head into one of only two eight-hour races on the Season 9 calendar.
|Saturday 12th June||6pm-6.10pm||Qualifying – GTE (both Pro and Am)|
|Saturday 12th June||6.10pm-6.20pm||Qualifying – Hypercar and LMP2|
|Saturday 13th June||11am-7pm||Race – 8 Hours of Portimão|
Glickenhaus Racing’s highly anticipated debut
To simply hear a more bespoke OEM make the step into not only a brand new top-tier sportscar category, but what is an FIA-governed world championship for endurance racing.
The last marque who attempted to join were Nissan NISMO – and we all know how that turned out.
— Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (@Glickenhaus) June 10, 2021
It is the beginning of a journey for Glickenhaus as they make history as only the second American outfit to do the WEC, but the first for a manufacturer. From early renderings and desires to race for the overall victory in the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jim’s dreams are coming true.
Indeed, this weekend will be the birth of their official race proceedings however, they set themselves for the next five years of learning in preparation for the more and more outfits who will join the Hypercar category.
The SCG 007 LMH is the championship’s second ‘Le Mans Hypercar’ and will become a double-act at the 6 Hours of Monza, the next round.
Richard Westbrook is making his debut into a top WEC category, joining Romain Dumas, and Ryan Briscoe to take the wheel of the #709 throughout what is expected to be gruelling eight-hour race – unable to attend the 6 Hours of Spa opener due to testing.
Joest Racing is back in the WEC since Audi’s sportscar program to assist with resources (and experience) for the team, and they have other exciting partners too, plus a talented roster of drivers for this year.
Fans aplenty are thrilled to see a bespoke, determined OEM attempt to make sportscar history this weekend.
Even Toyota and Alpine are respectfully delighted and excited to see a new name on the block; it will surely be a special debut.
BoPing it up – a recap on the Hypercar and GTE measures
This swiftly moves onto the matter of outright pace for Glickenhaus against the two Toyota Hypercars and the Alpine – also a question of proximity to the LMP2 field.
In short, we will not find out until when the cars are out on the track doing race pace/preparation during free practice. They will run their respective programs during then, so qualifying could represent a more valid indication.
To recap on the Balance of Performance measures:
- Both Toyota GR010 Hybrid LMHs will run to a minimum weight of 1066 kg – 26 kg more since the 6 Hours of Spa. The power output has been reduced to 690 hp – 7 hp reduction since Spa.
- #36 Alpine A480 Gibson will run at 952 kg – 22 kg more since the season-opener. Output of power has been slightly reduced from 608 hp to 603 hp.
- #709 SCG 007 LMH will run at the lowest possible weight for a Le Mans Hypercar at 1030 kg. The peak power output has been set to 697 hp.
There have been no changes made to the BoP for the GTE-Pro cars since the 6 Hours of Spa – but a few have taken place in GTE-Am.
- The GTE-Pro Porsche 911 RSR-19s will compete with 1259 kg, compared to AF Corse’s 1260 kg.
- #83 AF Corse which won in GTE-Am at Spa faces a 30 kg success ballast – at 1300 kg, it is the heaviest car in the field.
- #33 TF Sport AMR Vantage GTE is added 20 kg to make it 1267 kg. The other AMs in the category who are at 1247 kg.
- #47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari has 10 kg of ballast, totalling it up to 1280 kg.
Di Resta sits in for Albuquerque at United Autosports
The Scotsman will take the place of Filipe Albuquerque who will be at the IMSA Detroit Grand Prix race. He will miss his home round to defend a lead in the driver’s standings with Ricky Taylor, for Wayne Taylor Racing (Acura DPi).
United Autosports dominated the opening round after being at the front (or thereabouts) of every single session, including the Prologue that took place prior to that weekend.
In what is the WEC’s most competitive category, the reigning Daytona 24 Hours winner still managed to astonish everyone with his qualifying pace.
Now to have Di Resta, the reigning LMP2 Le Mans victor (with United Autosports), makes things interesting as the team will be keen to defend their top position in both LMP2 standings.
This does reduce the likelihood of Albuquerque winning a consecutive driver’s title unless Phil Hanson and Fabio Scherer miss a round.
But Di Resta will be returning to an all-familiar name to secure a victory, as I’m sure Phil Hanson and birthday-boy (to be 22 years old on race-day) Fabio Scherer will be keen on doing too.
Toyota’s 100th WEC race
It is great to see the Japanese marque attain a century of WEC races under their belt, in consideration of the 1980s and 2010s WEC experience.
After Formula 1, they needed to pursue a new challenge and a comeback to top-tier endurance racing was the right call.
— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WEC (@TGR_WEC) June 9, 2021
They have experienced the real highs of winning championships and races, to the lows of uncompetitive blips and adding to the extensive tally of being ‘pipped to the line’ at Le Mans.
Three historic Le Mans victories have been obtained yet in due course thanks to their history and perseverance, and admirable consistency to push despite the lack of real competitors.
Quite obviously, they are looking to add to a victory after Spa last time out and mark their special occasion with the taste of champagne – that is while Alpine and Glickenhaus put up a tremendous fight.
To remind yourself of the latest entry list for the 8 Hours of Portimão, see here.