Tyre experimentation ensued second-placed qualifying for Hartley

Brendon Hartley, #8 Toyota GAZOO Racing, expressed difficulty with running new tyres during qualifying for Round 2, the 8 Hours of Portimao.

During qualifying for the FIA WEC 8 Hours of Portimão, the Kiwi suggested it was difficult for drivers to gather enough heat to put tyres at operating temperatures.

More specifically, the 10-minute sessions (one for GTEs and the other for Hypercars and LMP2s) gave little time for qualifiers to pursue their capable pace after one out-lap.

Naturally, this turned up the pressure for drivers to either set a competitive time, or improve from their ‘banker’ lap-time.

Hartley, who qualified the #8 in second overall, said: “We are still experimenting with our new Hypercar and we tried something different.

“On the first run, we used scrubbed tyres because we saw in practice that the new tyres were struggling.

“We had a back-up plan in case that didn’t work, which was good because it didn’t work.

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“That put some pressure on for my last lap and I feel happy with the job we did. It was good planning and team work to get on the front row.

“I think it was possible to get pole position because it was very close in the end but Alpine took it. Well done to them.”

In addition to the shootout for pole position, the strictly-enforced Turn 1 and Turn 2 track limits caught many drivers out across all categories, which deleted lap-times as a consequence of exceeding these limits.

Hartley eventually set a P2 time of 1m30.458s, 0.094s behind the pole-sitting Alpine Elf Matmut.

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He described the race ahead:

“It’s going to be a close fight in the race with the top-three cars within two tenths so we have a long race ahead and on this track it’s going to be very tough with traffic.

“The LMP2s are not too far from us, so we have to be very focused, with no mistake or contact. Eight hours is going to be very long around here.”

The race on Sunday 13 June will have the two Toyotas across the first and second rows on the grid as they look to pounce on Alpine who claimed their first outright pole position earlier today.