Kobayashi secures Toyota first win of the season at WEC Imola

Kobayashi secures Toyota first win of the season at WEC Imola

Kamui Kobayashi edged Kevin Estre to secure Toyota its first victory of the season over Porsche at WEC Imola, after choosing the correct tyres in a mid-race rain shower that caught out Ferrari.

Toyota Gazoo Racing claimed an unlikely victory in the 6 Hours of Imola as Kamui Kobayashi held off a charging Kevin Estre at the end of a thrilling, rain-affected second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Kobayashi and his teammates in the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, Mike Conway and Nyck de Vries, made full use of a rain shower that split strategies up and down the Hypercar field and allowed Toyota and Porsche a chance to beat Ferrari on its home turf.

The number six Porsche of Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor pressed Toyota hard in the closing laps. But they needed to pass Kobayashi and pull out a five second margin to overcome a late time penalty for overtaking under Safety Car conditions.

Estre was unable to make a move on the Toyota, dropped back as they encountered a string of lapped cars around the narrow Imola circuit, and had to settle for second. Matt Campbell brought the No. 5 car home he shares with Frederic Makowiecki and Michael Christensen in third place, 25 seconds behind the winning Toyota.

Ferrari held a dominant position at the halfway mark with its two factory 499Ps running one and two, but the Italian manufacturer dropped the ball by leaving all three of its cars out on slick tires on a track that was steadily becoming wetter.

Despite the home favourites locking out the first three positions on the grid, they failed to get a single car home in the podium places. The number 50 car of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen started from pole position and led early but the team lost out when rain arrived with just over two hours remaining.

The number 50 499P ultimately finished in fourth, capitalising on a late mistake by Brendon Hartley in the number eight Toyota he shared with Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa. They had been on an almost identical strategy to the winning sister car, but Hartley lost time with two off-track moments on cold slick tires late on.

BMW had looked like a podium challenger during the worst of the rain, as the No. 20 car of Sheldon van der Linde ran fourth, but an off-track moment and a later drive-through penalty left he and teammates Rene Rast and Robin Frijns a lapped sixth.

The two remaining Ferraris came home seventh and eighth, with the No. 51 car of James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Antonio Giovinazzi coming home ahead of the third-string No. 83 AF Corse entry of Robert Kubica, Robert Shwartzman and Yifei Ye.

Peugeot salvaged two points for ninth on a difficult debut race for its revised 9X8, while Cadillac Racing’s solo V-Series.R claimed the final point in 10th.

Team WRT secures 1-2 in LMGT3

In the LMGT3 class, Team WRT put on a strategic masterclass in the changing conditions to deliver a one-two finish with its pair of BMW M4 GT3s.

The pole-winning No. 92 Manthey PureRxcing Porsche 911 GT3 R looked to be in a strong position to repeat its dominant Qatar victory early in the race, but the team erred by bringing in Klaus Bachler for wet tires in the worst of the rain.

While the track was wet enough to force the entire Hypercar field on to wet tires, there was more a split among the LMGT3 field, with the two TF Sport Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs and the No. 55 AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3 among the other teams to make the switch.

On the other hand, WRT kept both its cars out on slicks for the duration, which turned the battle for class honors into a two-way fight between the respective pro drivers in each of its cars, Augusto Farfus in the No. 31 car and Maxime Martin in the No. 46 car.

Ultimately, a drive-through penalty for the No. 46 car for not respecting the virtual safety car procedures opened the way for Farfus, Sean Gelael and Darren Leung to take a straightforward victory by 22 seconds over Martin, Valentino Rossi and Ahmad Al Harthy.

The No. 92 Manthey Porsche of Alex Malykhin, Joel Sturm and Klaus Bachler was third, having later switched back to slicks, a lap down on the BMWs.

Completing the top five were the No. 55 Ferrari of Alessio Rovera, Francois Heriau and Simon Mann and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo of Ian James, Daniel Mancinelli and Alex Riberas.

WEC Imola Six Hours race results

17HypercarToyota Gazoo RacingToyota GR010Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Nyck de Vries205
26HypercarPorsche Penske MotorsportPorsche 963Kevin Estre/Andre Lotterer/Laurens Vanthoor205
35HypercarPorsche Penske MotorsportPorsche 963Matt Campbell/Michael Christensen/Frederic Makowiecki205
450HypercarFerrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAntonio Fuoco/Miguel Molina/Nicklas Nielsen205
58HypercarToyota Gazoo RacingToyota GR010Sebastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa205
620HypercarBmw M Team WRTBMW M Hybrid V8Sheldon Van Der Linde/Robin Frijns/Rene Rast204
751HypercarFerrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAlessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado/Antonio Giovinazzi204
883HypercarAF CorseFerrari 499PRobert Kubica/Robert Shwartzman/Yifei Ye204
993HypercarPeugeotPeugeot 9X8Mikkel Jensen/Nico Mueller/Jean-Eric Vergne203
102HypercarCadillac RacingCadillac V-Series.REarl Bamber/Alex Lynn203
1138HypercarTeam JotaPorsche 963Jenson Button/Philip Hanson/Oliver Rasmussen203
1263HypercarLamborghini Iron LynxLamborghini SC63Mirko Bortolotti/Edoardo Mortara/Daniil Kvyat203
1335HypercarAlpine Endurance TeamAlpine A424Paul-Loup Chatin/Jules Gounon/Charles Milesi201
1412HypercarTeam JotaPorsche 963William Stevens/Callum Ilott/Norman Nato200
1594HypercarPeugeotPeugeot 9X8Paul di Resta/Loic Duval/Stoffel Vandoorne199
1636HypercarAlpine Endurance TeamAlpine A424Nicolas Lapierre/Mick Schumacher/Matthieu Vaxiviere199
1711HypercarIsotta FraschiniIsotta Fraschini Tipo6-CAntonio Serravalle/Carl Wattana Bennett/Jean-Karl Vernay191
1831LMGT3Team WRTBMW M4Darren Leung/Sean Gelael/Augusto Farfus187
1946LMGT3Team WRTBMW M4Ahmad Al Harthy/Valentino Rossi/Maxime Martin187
2092LMGT3Manthey PurerxcingPorsche 911 GT3 RAliaksandr Malykhin/Joel Sturm/Klaus Bachler186
2155LMGT3Vista AF CorseFerrari 296Francois Heriau/Simon Mann/Alessio Rovera186
2227LMGT3Heart Of Racing TeamAston Martin Vantage AMRIan James/Daniel Mancinelli/Alex Riberas185
2395LMGT3United AutosportsMcLaren 720S EvoJoshua Caygill/Nicolas Pino/Marino Sato185
2481LMGT3TF SportCorvette Z06.RTom Van Rompuy/Rui Andrade/Charlie Eastwood185
2582LMGT3TF SportCorvette Z06.RHiroshi Koizumi/Sebastien Baud/Daniel Juncadella185
2677LMGT3Proton CompetitionFord MustangRyan Hardwick/Zacharie Robichon/Ben Barker184
27777LMGT3D’Station RacingAston Martin Vantage AMRClement Mateu/Erwan Bastard/Marco Sorensen184
2859LMGT3United AutosportsMcLaren 720S EvoJames Cottingham/Nicolas Costa/Gregoire Saucy184
2954LMGT3Vista AF CorseFerrari 296Thomas Flohr/Francesco Castellacci/Davide Rigon184
3060LMGT3Iron LynxLamborghini Huracan Evo2Claudio Schiavoni/Matteo Cressoni/Franck Perera183
3178LMGT3Akkodis Asp TeamLexus RC FArnold Robin/Timur Boguslavskiy/Kelvin Van Der Linde183
3287LMGT3Akkodis Asp TeamLexus RC FTakeshi Kimura/Esteban Masson/Jose Maria Lopez182
3391LMGT3Manthey EmaPorsche 911 GT3 RYasser Shahin/Morris Schuring/Richard Lietz171
3415HypercarBmw M Team WRTBMW M Hybrid V8Dries Vanthoor/Raffaele Marciello/Marco Wittmann163
3599HypercarProton CompetitionPorsche 963Harry Tincknell/Neel Jani/Julien Andlauer167
3685LMGT3Iron DamesLamborghini Huracan Evo2Sarah Bovy/Doriane Pin/Michelle Gatting33
3788LMGT3Proton CompetitionFord MustangGiorgio Roda/Mikkel Pedersen/Dennis Olsen82

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