FIA WEC

Porsche Penske Take First Hyperpole Of 2024

3 Mins read
Credit: Porsche AG

The much anticipated 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) is underway with the first pole position of the season going to Porsche Penske Motorsport at the Qatar 1812km.

In a thrilling session that went down to the final seconds, Matt Campbell completed his lap in the Porsche 963 in 1:39.347. After a poor showing in the free practice sessions, Toyota Gazoo Racing will be thrilled with their front row start, Nyck de Vries doing a sterling job in his first Hyperpole qualifying session to finish 0.164 seconds behind polesitter Campbell.

The matte black Toyota overcame disappointing practice times to start on the front row. Credit: Javier Jimenez / DPPI

In a sign of the much vaunted competitiveness of the 2024 season, there are six different teams and five different cars occupying the first seven grid slots. The #12 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche lines up third, an excellent debut performance by Callum Ilott. Ferrari AF Corse line up alongside the gold Porsche, with Antonio Fuoco doing the honours for the Scuderia.

Kevin Estre put the other Porsche Penske Motorsport car in fifth, alongside the still wingless #93 Peugeot TotalEnergies car. The flat, open, fast circuit is proving useful for Peugeot to unlock the potential of their car. The fourth row of the grid is occupied by Cadillac Racing and the Le Mans winning #51 Ferrari 499P, and the top ten is rounded off by the sister Hertz Team JOTA Porsche and Peugeot TotalEnergies cars.

The #51 Ferrari under the lights. Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

There were a couple of surprises when it came to who missed out on the Hyperpole session, a ten minute shootout for ten fastest cars on the grid. 2023 champions, the #8 Toyota, could only manage 11th fastest. However, their best position in free practice was 12th, so the team won’t be totally shocked. 12th was the best the #83 private Ferrari could manage, followed by the Proton Competition Porsche.

The best of the new teams, the gorgeous Alpine A424. Credit: Javier Jimenez / DPPI

From 14th to 19th, the grid slots are occupied by the new teams to the Hypercar class. This isn’t terribly surprising; the other teams have had a minimum of an entire year to gain experience. The pair of Alpine Endurance Team cars are split by the two BMW M Team WRT machines, with Lamborghini Iron Lynx and Isotta Fraschini bringing up the rear. With 19 cars on the Hypercar grid, a mouth-watering battle emerging out front, and the top ten being separated by just over one second, the stage is set for a classic opening round on Saturday.

LMGT3

In the brand new LMGT3 category, it was WEC stalwarts TF Sport who took the honours. Tom van Rompuy set a blistering pole time of 1:54.372 in his Corvette ZO6 LMGT3, a full 0.8 seconds ahead of their nearest rival, the #92 Manthey PureRxcing Porsche 911 LMGT3.

The #81 Corvette ZO6 LMGT3 which took the first ever WEC LMGT3 pole. Credit: Javier Jimenez / DPPI

The gap to third was much closer. The #54 Vista AF Corse Ferrari 296 LMGT3 of Thomas Flohr was a mere whisker off the pace, finishing 0.003 seconds slower than the Porsche. Fourth and fifth went to the pair of Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGT3s, D’Station Racing just edging out Heart of Racing Team.

The distinctive Iron Dames Lamborghini leaves the pits. Credit: Javier Jimenez / DPPI

The Iron Dames finished their first qualifying in their Lamborghini Huracan LMGT3 Evo 2 in sixth, followed by the two United Autosports McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evos, a good result for their first ever outing in WEC. The first of the Team WRT BMW M4 LMGT3 cars came ninth (yes, it was Valentino Rossi‘s car), with the other Ferrari rounding out the top ten.

The sister TF Sport Corvette came just outside the top ten, alongside the thunderous #31 Proton Competition Ford Mustang LMGT3. The seventh row is home to the Manthay Ema Porsche and the second Team WRT BMW. The two Akkodis ASP Team Lexus RCF LMGT3s, the oldest homologated cars on the grid but making their WEC debut, are 15th and 16th, while the Iron Lynx Lamborghini and the other Proton Mustang finish off the grid.

A sign of how exciting 2024 will be: two LMGT3 BMWs, a Hypercar Lamborghini and Porsche, a mere sample of the full 37 car grid that will go racing on Saturday. Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

It is a seriously exciting moment for all fans of endurance racing. The opening round of the season will get going at 8am GMT on Saturday 2 March.

For full qualifying and practice results, click here.

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