Wec Qatar, race: Porsche hat-trick, Kubica’s Ferrari fifth. Rossi fourth in GT3

The Stuttgart house confirmed the good things seen this week with a peremptory hat-trick. The official Ferraris were unlucky, while the private one of Kubica-Ye-Shwartzman finished fifth. Fourth place for Valentino in GT3

Alessandro Follis

March 2, 2024 (changed at 8.39pm) – LOSAIL (QATAR)

The results of the prologue, free practice and qualifying had hinted at how on the Losail track the Porsche 963 they had something more. This feeling was reconfirmed in the race: under the checkered flag of the 1,812 km of Qatar, at the end of 335 laps practically without interruptions, the German cars achieved a hat-trick, with the private Hertz Team Jota car sandwiched between the two official ones. Success for the #6 by Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and André Lotterer, ahead of the #12 of Will Stevens, Norman Nato and Callum Ilott and the #5 of Michael Christensen, Matt Campbell and Frédéric Makowiecki. The Stuttgart cars certainly benefited from a favorable Balance of Performance (Bop), having 27 kg less than the Ferraris and 41 than the Toyotas on a track where the weight effect is felt very much. Unlucky race for them Official Ferraris: the #50 finished eighth after two laps with a drive through, while the #51 was 14th having to change the rear twice following contacts. However, the performance of the #83 of AF Corse was good: no problems and a good initial comeback took it to fifth place overall. Toyota was also in difficulty, sixth and tenth, while Peugeot lost the podium with two laps to go due to a technical problem. Fourth place for Valentino Rossi in LMGT3.

Brilliant start

The race started at 11am local time, 9am Italian time, with the #5 Porsche in pole position. There However, Miguel Molina had a better start on the Ferrari #50, which from fourth position overtook its opponents on the outside and took the lead, a position which it held for the first 16 laps, before having to give in to Peugeot #93 by a Nico Müller in great shape. The Swiss pulled ahead of his rivals, with Molina second and the #5 Porsche of Michael Christensen fighting with the #12 of Will Stevens for third place. The other one Calado’s Ferrari #51 he maintained seventh position, while from 12th place on the grid Robert Kubica in the #83 he gained several positions, returning to the top 10. At the end of the first hour of the race, Molina’s Ferrari received a drive through for crossing the white line at the entrance to the pits, slipping to the rear. In the meantime the Porsche #6 by Laurens Vanthoor, which started fifth, moved up to second place and began to gain on the Peugeot, overtaking it after 54 laps by taking advantage of a gap from Müller while lapping a GT3. Shortly after the first of the unfortunate episodes that hit the Ferrari #51, which had been sixth until then: following a contact, the rear of the car came off, then remaining on the track and causing a Full Course Yellow. The car returned to the pits, also changing the rear bonnet and returning one lap behind with Pier Guidi at the wheel.

Porsche dominance

From that point the #6 Porsche never lost first place, gradually pulling ahead during Kevin Estre’s stint and maintaining the lead with André Lotterer. Behind him, the Peugeot #93 ran a convincing race, also favored by the Balance of Performance which sees it lighter and more powerful than all the others, fighting against Jota’s Porsche #12 and the #5 which started from pole. On the latter car it particularly stood out Matt Campbellauthor of the pole position and the fastest lap: the 29-year-old Australian is in a moment of extraordinary form, having already won both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Bathurst. For the French car, however, the twist came two laps from the end: the 9X8 suddenly slowed down, thus giving up the podium and finally slipping to seventh place. The Ferraris, on the other hand, were called upon to make great comebacks: the #83 she managed to avoid problems and make several passes, battling with the #7 Toyota, #2 Cadillac and Jota’s #38 Porsche during various stages of the race before emerging in fifth position. There #50, penalized by the drive through at the start of the race, had to come up from behind on a track where overtaking is very difficult: Molina, Nielsen and Fuoco managed to get back to eighth position. For the #51 unfortunately it was necessary to change the rear wing a second time, causing it to fall out of the points, in fourteenth place.

Space for outsiders

The final ranking highlighted a change in the situation compared to the previous season, when only the winners were Toyota and Ferrari: the two leading brands in 2023 struggled to place their cars in the points, both penalized by an unfavorable Bop (1,075 kg for Ferrari and 1,089 for Toyota), while Porsche and Peugeot above all they stood out for their speed thanks also to their respective 1,048 and 1,030 kg. The French car, in addition to being the lightest, was also the most powerful on the grid with the maximum permitted 520 kW. The Stuttgart cars, both Penske’s official ones and Jota’s private ones, have always been the protagonists. Speaking of Ferrari’s difficulties, the two Toyota GR010 Hybrid also competed a subdued race, finishing seventh and tenth at the finish line without ever giving the impression of being able to fight for something more. Among the new arrivals in the championship she stood out Alpine: both French cars crossed the threshold of the points during the race and in the end the #35 of Chatin-Habsburg-Milesi finished in ninth place. BMW was less good, placing one car 12th and the other 16th, while Lamborghini finished 15th without ever being in the fight for anything more and Isotta Fraschini retired after 157 laps while in last place.

Vale missed the podium

The debut of Valentino Rossi in the WEC it was certainly positive: the #46 BMW M4 GT3 of the Doctor, shared with Ahmad Al-Harthy and Maxime Martin, was in third position for a long time during the stints of the Pesaro driver, who was very positive and constant, before slipping to fourth ‘now from the end. Victory for Porsche also in the debut of the LMGT3 class, with car #92 Manthey PureRxcing conducted excellently by Malykhin, Sturm and Bachler, in front of the two Aston Martin: second was the #27 of Heart of Racing of James, Riberas and the Italian Daniel Mancinelli, third was the #777 of D’Station Racing of Mateu, Bastard and Sørensen. The two Ferrari 296 GT3 by Vista AF Corse they stood out for their pure speed: best lap in the race for Alessio Rovera in the #55, who however finished seventh, while the #54 was also in the lead before finishing fifth.

Order of arrival: Hypercar

Here’s how the top ten finished in the Hypercar class:

  1. Porsche #6 (L. Vanthoor-Estre-Lotterer) 335 laps
  2. Porsche Jota #12 (Stevens-Nato-Ilott) +33,297
  3. Porsche #5 (Christensen-Campbell-Makowiecki) +34.396
  4. Cadillac #2 (Lynn-Bourdais-Bamber) +1 lap
  5. Ferrari #83 (Kubica-Ye-Shwartzman) +1 lap
  6. Toyota #7 (Conway-De Vries-Kobayashi) +1 lap
  7. Peugeot #93 (Müller-Jensen-Vergne) +1 lap
  8. Ferrari #50 (Molina-Nielsen-Fuoco) +2 laps
  9. Alpine #35 (Habsburg-Milesi-Chatin) +2 laps
  10. Toyota #8 (Buemi-Hartley-Hirakawa) +2 laps


Here’s how the top ten finished in the LMGT3 class:

  1. Porsche #92 (Malykhin-Sturm-Bachler) 299 laps
  2. Aston Martin #27 (James-Mancinelli-Riberas) +4,866
  3. Aston Martin #777 (Mateu-Bastard-Sørensen) +1 lap
  4. BMW #46 (Al Harthy-Rossi-Martin) +1 lap
  5. Ferrari #54 (Flohr-Castellacci-Rigon) +2 laps
  6. BMW #31 (Leung-Gelael-Farfus) +2 laps
  7. Ferrari #55 (Heriau-Mann-Rovera) +2 laps
  8. Lamborghini #85 (Bovy-Pin-Gatting) +4 laps
  9. Ford #88 (Roda-Pedersen-Olsen) +5 laps
  10. Corvette #82 (Koizumi-Baud-Juncadella) +5 laps