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Porsche takes another double podium in WEC 6 Hours of Imola

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Porsche 963

Porsche Penske Motorsport took another double podium in the World Endurance Championship’s 6 Hours of Imola to continue a strong start to 2024.

Having swept the podium last time out, both factory Hypercars once again took the rostrum after enduring wet weather and several fierce battles. The #6 car of Kevin Estre, André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor finished in second place despite a five-second penalty, having lined up fourth on the grid, with Estre close to catching the leader after a stellar battle in the closing stages. The sister #5 car, driven by Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen and Frederic Makowiecki, completed the podium after starting fifth. The result continues a stellar start to the season for Porsche, having taken wins in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the WEC and the Bathurst 12 Hours. In the LMGT3 class, Manthey PureRxcing once again took to the podium, having scored a class victory in the opening round in Qatar.

Story of the race

The #6 car started fourth, ahead of the #5 car in fifth. Both cars managed to avoid the initial chaos off the line, with several cars making contact at Turn 2 and prompting an immediate safety car. The pair were soon split by the #7 Toyota, with the leading car, driven by Laurens Vanthoor, putting up a staunch defence to the chasing Mike Conway, who was in turn chased by Fred Makowiecki in the #5 Porsche 963. The top class pitstops started around an hour into the six-hour race, with several cars ahead stopping to boost the two Porsche factory cars into second and fourth. A smart strategy in the pits helped #6 car jump into second soon after, while the sister car ran fifth, and was soon embroiled in a fierce battle with one of the factory Ferrari entries, losing one place. Both cars remained inside the top six after two hours had passed, with the #6 car in front, 26 seconds off the race leader. As others stopped, the #6 entry briefly held the lead, before it too stopped, exiting the pits in fourth ahead of the #5 car as spots of rain began to fall in pitlane.

By the halfway mark, the threat of rain grew stronger, and with the race declared wet on lap 130, many cars opted to switch to wet tyres. Porsche Penske Motorsport opted for a split strategy, with the #6 car pulling into the pits while the #5 entry stayed out. The gamble paid off, with the #6 car up to second, while the #5 remained fifth as mixed strategies shook up the order heading into the final two hours. Despite a damp track, Matt Campbell in the #5 car was able to catch the battle for third ahead of him, cutting the gap from four seconds to one second before a car ahead stopped, boosting him to fourth. On lap 169, the #6 car took the lead, before stopping the following tour to hand control to the sister #5 car. That crew also pitted the following lap, with the two exiting in third and fourth respectively. With just over 30 minutes remaining, the #5 entry made a daring move for third, passing the #51 Ferrari to re-enter the podium positions. The #6 factory entry, running ahead, was hit with a five-second penalty for overtaking under the safety car, but that did not put paid to Estre’s determination to catch the leader. After cutting the lead from 4.4s to 2.4s, a fierce battle for the lead ensued, but badly-timed traffic scuppered Estre’s chances of taking victory.

Customer racing

The #38 Hertz Team JOTA car, driven by Jenson Button, Phil Hanson and Oliver Rasmussen, was the highest finishing customer entry in 11th. Having also avoided contact in the opening melee, it was running seventh ahead of its first stop at the one hour mark, but spent much of the race running in 10th, having made up one place. A late off on the way down to Rivazza dropped one position, but Button brought the car home in the final points-paying place. The #12 Hertz Team JOTA car was running a strong race, having lined up ninth on the grid. It was inside the top 10 when it had a lock-up at Tosa and ran off into the gravel, though only lost one place. Soon after, its afternoon came to an end with another trip into the gravel trap, this time at Rivazza, with tricky wet conditions causing poor grip. The #99 Proton Competition car, which had started 10th, met a similar fate with just over 90 minutes remaining, having become beached at Turn 18. Though it got going again, its race ended in the final hour after running off again at Turns 14 and 15 as the conditions remained tricky.


The #92 Manthey Pure Rxcing car, driven by Klaus Bachler, Alex Malykhin and Joel Sturm, took another podium in the LMGT3 class, having won last time out in Qatar. Leading off the line, initially by Malykhin, the #92 Porsche 911 GT3 R led for much of the race, but was jumped by both WRT BMW entries late on to finish in third. Sadly for the #91 Manthey EMA crew, its race was over almost as soon as it started after Yasser Shahin suffered serious damage off the line, having made hard contact with the wall. The car underwent intensive repairs and received a new front, splitter, airflow and both fenders. It left the pits after around 30 minutes, heading out at the back of the field, and its race was later further hampered by a stop and go penalty for causing a collision. The WEC returns for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium from May 9-11.

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