WEC 2024 result after Round 1: Qatar 1812km

WEC 2024

Toyota Gazoo Racing faced a tough challenge in the season opening event of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), coming away with valuable points after a determined team effort. We reveal how tireless work through the practice sessions and a smart race strategy maximised the potential of the two GR010 Hybrids and led to this WEC 2024 result.

WEC 2024 Round 1: prologue and free practice

In the week leading up to the opening race of the 2024 World Endurance Championship, the FIA had arranged a two-day test event at the Lusail International Circuit in Qatar.

Toyota’s new-look GR010 Hybrid prototypes completed 11 hours of rigorous testing during this prologue, accumulating 3,093km (571 laps) of vital tyre comparisons, chassis settings and data collection. This was while roasting under temperatures that often exceeded 35°C and adapting to additional balance of performance weight compared to last season. Information from these tests was used to optimise the cars before the three official practice sessions.

The team dedicated the first 90-minute practice session to analyse control systems and mechanical set-ups. The second, cooler session took place at night and provided another valuable opportunity to analyse the medium- and hard-compound tyres available in Qatar. The third and final practice took place the following morning, so the final set-ups could be fine-tuned just ahead of qualifying.

Encouragingly, throughout the practice sessions, both cars showed improved performance over longer stints, although the time sheets reflected only one-lap pace.

WEC 2024 Round 1: qualifying

Qualifying this season followed a new format. All cars completed a 12-minute opening session, from which the top ten finishers progressed to a Hyperpole shoot-out for the leading grid positions.

Nyck de Vries took the driving seat in the #7 GR010 Hybrid, and Brendon Hartley took up the same mantle in the #8 car. Nyck earned a well-deserved second place in qualifying, less than half a second behind the lead car, but was then denied pole position by just 0.164 seconds at the end of the Hyperpole session. He therefore began the Qatar 1812km in the front row of the grid.

Unfortunately, contrasting emotions were experienced by Brendon, who encountered tyre issues early in qualifying and missed his chance in the shoot-out by just 0.017 seconds. This had repurcussions on the race as the car was now down one set of tyres.

WEC 2024 Round 1: Qatar 1812km

The Qatar 1812km started under a burning midday sun and, needless to say, the action was hot from the outset. A total field of 37 cars and a relatively narrow circuit to thread the competitors through meant that traffic in lap one was intense.

WEC 2024

Thanks to the team’s storming performance in the shoot-out, Mike Conway was able to start on the front row. However his #7 GR010 Hybrid suffered oversteer through turn one, which forced him wide and dropped him into seventh place. Sébastien Buemi in the #8 car also lost positions in the opening tussle but kept clear of trouble, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour. Subsequently, both drivers were able to use the remainder of their stints to move up the order.

Shortly before the two-hour mark, Conway handed the #7 to Nyck de Vries while Brendon Hartley replaced Buemi. Both cars were fitted with new tyres on the left side to continue their battle to gain positions. New tyres for the right-hand side were planned to be fitted on the next changeover as the team explored different strategies.

WEC 2024

A battling performance from de Vries moved the #7 into the top six before he handed over to Kamui Kobayashi after almost four hours. But a difficult stint for Hartley meant that his replacement, Ryo Hirakawa, faced a battle to return the #8 to the top ten. The Japanese driver’s task got tougher when an issue with the rear left wheel cost time and positions at the next pit stop.

As the race moved into the last five hours, the starting drivers were back behind the wheel. Conway was fighting for sixth and Buemi edging closer to the points. Then with just over two hours remaining, a final driver change saw de Vries and Hirakawa resume the battle under lights in the Qatari night.

WEC 2024

Various fuel strategies played out as the race drew to a close. de Vries was in seventh as he entered the final lap but that became sixth when he passed the fuel-starved #93 car in the last few metres. Hirakawa then completed the race in tenth to make it a double points finish for the team despite the challenging circumstances.

WEC 2024 result in Round 1: Qatar 1812km

#6 Porsche Penske Estre / Lotterer / Vanthoor  
#12 Hertz Team JotaStevens / Ilott / Nato + 33.297s 
#5 Porsche Penske Campbell / Christensen / Makowiecki + 34.396s 
#2 Cadillac Racing Bamber / Lynn / Bourdais + 1 lap 
#83 Ferrari AF Corse Kubica / Shwartzman / Ye + 1 lap 
6 #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Kobayashi / Conway / de Vries + 1 lap 
45#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Buemi / Hartley / Hirakawa+ 2 laps

WEC 2024: manufacturer standings

Porsche 39
3 Toyota 18 
Ferrari 15
Alpine 12 

Where is the WEC heading next?

This year’s WEC calendar has been expanded to eight rounds across four continents, each of which is hosted by a different country. The following table provides the order of events.

Qatar 1812km Qatar 2 March 
6 Hours of Imola Italy 21 April 
6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps Belgium 11 May 
24 Hours of Le Mans France 15-16 June 
6 Hours of São Paulo Brazil 14 July 
Lone Star Le Mans USA 1 September 
6 Hours of Fuji Japan 15 September 
8 Hours of Bahrain Bahrain 2 November 

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