Toyota Gazoo Racing takes 1-2 finish in 100th World Endurance Championship race at 8 Hours of Portimao

Toyota Gazoo Racing has added another feather to its endurance racing cap, marking its 100th outing in the World Endurance Championship with a 1-2 victory at the 8 Hours of Portimao endurance race with the GR010 Hybrid Le Mans Hypercar.

The winning car #8 at the Portuguese round was piloted by the trio of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley, with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López at the controls of the #7 car.

This milestone outing at the 8 Hours of Portimao follows the factory Toyota team’s successful outing in the premier Hypercar class season opener at the Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, where the team took the race win as well as third place.

Rounding out podium finishers was the #36 Oreca-built Alpine A480 Gibson LMP1 racer, piloted by Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere. Starting from pole position, the Alpine trio finished in third, one minute and six seconds behind the #7 Toyota.

Just 10 seconds separated the top three at the initial round of fuel stops, which saw Buemi briefly take the race lead as the #36 Alpine pitted earlier, its smaller fuel tank giving it less range between stops, while conversely benefiting from a lighter fuel load and shorter stops each time.

Conway and Hartley took to the wheel at their respective cars’ driver changes just before the two-hour mark. Still only a 10-second gap between the three race cars, the Alpine held the lead with 75 laps of the race completed. Hartley was held up behind an LMP2 car, as Buemi had been earlier, costing the #8 Toyota second place.

Through a combination of fuel stops and encountered traffic, the two Toyotas traded places several times during this stint. Heading into the halfway mark, Kobayashi and Nakajima took over driving duties, both Toyotas leapfrogging the Alpine through pit stops. Thereafter, Kobayashi held a 10-second lead over Nakajima.

The leading Toyota pair of cars were reeled in by the Alpine once again during a safety period, brought about by a Ligier LMP2 that veered into the gravel. The Alpine took second place from the #8 car of Nakajima, then putting pressure on the #7 of Kobayashi before a refuelling stop was required. The #7 car in the hands of Lopez then took the lead from Buemi, who was saving fuel.

Lopez took advantage of a full-course yellow flag to refuel with 30 minutes to go in the race, re-emerging three seconds behind Buemi in the #8 car. Lopez in the #7 Toyota closed in on Buemi with pace to spare and thus took the race lead, though orders came in to reverse the order and so the duo traded places again.

With 300 laps completed, Buemi took the chequered flag at Portimao in the #8 Toyota followed by Lopez in the #7 car. Toyota makes it two wins from two races, and heads into the Monza round in Italy with a 22-point lead in the teams’ World Championship stakes. The drivers’ standings now sees the Buemi, Nakajima and Hartley trio of the #8 car grow their lead to 20 points above their team mates in the #7 car.

GALLERY: Toyota GR010 Hybrid Le Mans Hypercar

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