Start, World Endurance Championship, Losail International Circuit, 2024

Porsche sweep podium in Qatar opener after late heartbreak for Peugeot


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Porsche cars filled the podium places at the Losail International Circuit in a changing of the guard for the first round of the 2024 World Endurance Championship.

It marked a change in fortunes for the entrant which achieved a best finish of third on its return to the series last year. Since then the 963 has been allowed a 5kg reduction in weight under the series’ Balance of Performance, as well as a 6kW increase in maximum power and 9Mj reduction in maximum stint energy.

Porsche’s clean sweep was only completed when the second-placed Peugeot 9X8 of Jean-Eric Vergne hit trouble on the penultimate lap of 335.

The number six works Porsche 963 of Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer and Vanthoor already looked certain of victory when Vergne hit trouble. His slump to seventh promoted the number 12 customer JOTA Porsche of Will Stevens, Callum Ilott and Norman Nato, and lifted the second works Porsche to the rostrum.

The third Porsche on the podium started the race from pole position, but immediately lost the advantage to a rocketship start from Ferrari driver Miguel Molina from fourth place. The number 50 car swept around the outside of Michael Christensen’s Porsche and Mike Conway in the number seven Toyota. Conway ran wide in the drama, falling to seventh.

However Molina’s lead proved short-lived. Though he rebuffed an attack from Christensen, that handed the initiative to Vergne’s team mate Nico Mueller. The Peugeot driver picked off Christensen, then drove around the outside of Molina at turn one to take the lead on lap 16.

From there things quickly soured for Ferrari. An early pit stop for Molina went awry when he crossed the pit lane entry line, incurring a drive-through penalty. Then James Calado in the sister works car tangled with James Cottingham’s GT3 McLaren at the 1hr 40 mark, losing its rear bodywork and triggering a Full Course Yellow.

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Peugeot lost the lead to the number six Porsche shortly after the two-hour mark when the number 93 car ran deep at the first corner while battling through traffic. From there they steadily took control of the 1,812 kilometre race.

Toyota talked down their chances pre-race. The BoP cut their power by 4KW while adding 9kg in weight, but giving them an extra 2MJ of stint energy. Although they got one of their cars on the front row, they never looked like regaining the positions they lost early on.

It was a tough day for the only team which beat Toyota to victory last year, too. The delays to the two works Ferrari promoted their new customer third car, which was the first 499P home.

The result therefore had a markedly different look to any of last year’s races. Outside the Porsche-filled podium, the sole Cadillac of Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Sebastien Bourdais took fourth, one lap behind. AF Corse’s yellow Ferrari 499P, driven by Robert Kubica, Robert Shwartzman and Yifei Ye, came fifth.

Also on the same lap was the first of the Toyotas, shared by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries. The Verge/Mueller/Mikkel Jensen Peugeot was also credited with 334 laps but, adding insult to injury, is under investigation for a technical infringement.

The number 50 Ferrari of early leader Molina and team mates Antonio Fuoco and Nicklas Nielsen took eighth, followed by the first of the Alpines and the second Toyota. On their arrivals in the Hypercar class BMW achieved a best of 12th and the sole Lamborghini 15th.

Isotta Fraschini’s first race began unpromisingly when the car stopped on the main straight during the first of two formation laps. Jean-Karl Vernay was able to coax it into life and join the start, but having run off the pace it retired before half-distance.

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2024 WEC Qatar 1,812km result

16HypercarPorsche Penske MotorsportPorsche 963Kevin Estre/Andre Lotterer/Laurens Vanthoor335
212HypercarHertz Team JotaPorsche 963William Stevens/Callum Ilott/Norman Nato335
35HypercarPorsche Penske MotorsportPorsche 963Matt Campbell/Michael Christensen/Frederic Makowiecki335
42HypercarCadillac RacingCadillac V-Series.REarl Bamber/Alex Lynn/Sebastien Bourdais334
583HypercarAF CorseFerrari 499PRobert Kubica/Robert Shwartzman/Yifei Ye334
67HypercarToyota Gazoo RacingToyota GR010Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Nyck de Vries334
793HypercarPeugeot TotalenergiesPeugeot 9X8Mikkel Jensen/Nico Mueller/Jean-Eric Vergne334
850HypercarFerrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAntonio Fuoco/Miguel Molina/Nicklas Nielsen333
935HypercarAlpine Endurance TeamAlpine A424Paul-Loup Chatin/Ferdinand Habsburg/Charles Milesi333
108HypercarToyota Gazoo RacingToyota GR010Sebastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa333
1199HypercarProton CompetitionPorsche 963Harry Tincknell/Neel Jani/Julien Andlauer333
1220HypercarBmw M Team WRTBMW M Hybrid V8Sheldon Van Der Linde/Robin Frijns/Rene Rast332
1336HypercarAlpine Endurance TeamAlpine A424Nicolas Lapierre/Mick Schumacher/Matthieu Vaxiviere332
1451HypercarFerrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAlessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado/Antonio Giovinazzi332
1563HypercarLamborghini Iron LynxLamborghini SC63Mirko Bortolotti/Edoardo Mortara/Daniil Kvyat330
1615HypercarBmw M Team WRTBMW M Hybrid V8Dries Vanthoor/Raffaele Marciello/Marco Wittmann327
1794HypercarPeugeot TotalenergiesPeugeot 9X8Paul di Resta/Loic Duval/Stoffel Vandoorne316
1892HypercarManthey PurerxcingPorsche 911 GT3 RAliaksandr Malykhin/Joel Sturm/Klaus Bachler299
1927HypercarHeart Of Racing TeamAston Martin Vantage AMRIan James/Daniel Mancinelli/Alex Riberas299
20777LMGT3D’Station RacingAston Martin Vantage AMRClement Mateu/Erwan Bastard/Marco Sorensen298
2146LMGT3Team WRTBMW M4Ahmad Al Harthy/Valentino Rossi/Maxime Martin298
2254LMGT3Vista AF CorseFerrari 296Thomas Flohr/Francesco Castellacci/Davide Rigon297
2331LMGT3Team WRTBMW M4Darren Leung/Sean Gelael/Augusto Farfus297
2455LMGT3Vista AF CorseFerrari 296Francois Heriau/Simon Mann/Alessio Rovera297
2585LMGT3Iron DamesLamborghini Huracan Evo2Sarah Bovy/Doriane Pin/Michelle Gatting295
2688LMGT3Proton CompetitionFord MustangGiorgio Roda/Mikkel Pedersen/Dennis Olsen294
2782LMGT3TF SportCorvette Z06.RHiroshi Koizumi/Sebastien Baud/Daniel Juncadella294
2877LMGT3Proton CompetitionFord MustangRyan Hardwick/Zacharie Robichon/Ben Barker293
2960LMGT3Iron LynxLamborghini Huracan Evo2Claudio Schiavoni/Matteo Cressoni/Franck Perera291
3095LMGT3United AutosportsMcLaren 720S EvoJoshua Caygill/Nicolas Pino/Marino Sato284
3159LMGT3United AutosportsMcLaren 720S EvoJames Cottingham/Nicolas Costa/Gregoire Saucy284
3291LMGT3Manthey EmaPorsche 911 GT3 RYasser Shahin/Morris Schuring/Richard Lietz284
3387LMGT3Akkodis Asp TeamLexus RC FTakeshi Kimura/Esteban Masson/Jose Maria Lopez273
3438LMGT3Hertz Team JotaPorsche 963Jenson Button/Philip Hanson/Oliver Rasmussen309
3578LMGT3Akkodis Asp TeamLexus RC FArnold Robin/Timur Boguslavskiy/Kelvin Van Der Linde249
3681LMGT3TF SportCorvette Z06.RTom Van Rompuy/Rui Andrade/Charlie Eastwood177
3711LMGT3Isotta FraschiniIsotta Fraschini Tipo6-CAntonio Serravalle/Carl Wattana Bennett/Jean-Karl Vernay157

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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2 comments on “Porsche sweep podium in Qatar opener after late heartbreak for Peugeot”

  1. I may be wrong, but I believe the table incorrectly shows the Jenson Button/Philip Hanson/Oliver Rasmussen Porsche ‘Hypercar’ as an LMGT3 car

  2. As well as the 18th Position Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 R, shows as a hypercar, when its the LMGT3 class winner.
    Probably a late night editing click, close, go to bed. ;)

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