The WEC’s new ten-minute single-lap qualifying made for another frantic fight to start Sunday’s 8 Hours of Portimão from pole. In the Saturday evening sunshine at the Algarve International Circuit, it was the #36 Alpine A480 who went fastest.
Mathieu Vaxiviere, handed qualifying duties for the #36 Alpine squad, was the first man to put in a quick time, taking provisional pole with a 1:30.524. Almost simultaneously Mike Conway went second-quickest in the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, just 0.016 seconds behind.
With a couple of minutes of the session remaining, Vaxiviere left the pits to defend provisional pole with the #8 Toyota looking to improve its provisional grid position of 5th. The fight for pole went down to the wire, with Vaxiviere bettering his existing pole time to 1:30.364 as the chequered flag flew. It was a good job, too, as moments later Brendon Hartley completed his final flying lap just 0.094 seconds slower for the #8 Toyota.
In the end, Alpine secured its first pole position in the top class of the WEC, ahead of the #8 and #7 Toyotas. Glickenhaus could only go 11th fastest overall in Hypercar and LMP2, but the #709 machine will start Sunday’s race from 4th as the fourth-fastest Hypercar.
LMP2 was a JOTA lock-out, with the pair of British-entered Orecas the class of the field in qualifying. Racing Team Nederland was third-fastest, while United Autosports – quickest overall in FP1 and FP3 – will start Sunday’s eight-hour race from fourth.
Porsche on top in GTE
Porsche secured pole in GTE Pro following yet another qualifying masterclass by Frenchman Kévin Estre in the #92 911 RSR-19. Second-fastest was James Calado for AF Corse, 0.4s behind. The second Porsche will start Sunday’s race from the second row of the grid alongside the sister AF Corse machine. Both cars saw multiple lap times deleted in qualifying due to track limits violations.
In GTE Am, qualifying duties are handled by the bronze-rated “amateur” drivers. And, once again, it was a Porsche on top. Quickest was Team Project 1 drivers Egidio Perfetti in the #56 Porsche 911 RSR-19. The Norwegian’s 1:40.191 on his final flying lap trumped Christian Ried’s effort of 1:40.236 by just 0.045s. Third-fastest was the #47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari.