Porsche and Toyota believe Ferrari «out of reach» for WEC Imola race

The two manufacturers that will line up behind the Ferrari top-three block-out on the grid believe the Italian marque will maintain its qualifying advantage in the six-hour race.

“We are trying to be optimistic but, on pure pace, we are not there with Ferrari,” said Porsche driver Kevin Estre, who took fourth position aboard the #6 963 LMDh in Saturday’s Hyperpole qualifying session.

“Of course, it’s a long race and there is strategy to come into play and the chance of contact, but to race with them will be difficult and passing them will be very difficult.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director David Floury was even more despondent about his team’s chances in the Imola 6 Hours.

“I don’t see how we can be hopeful for the race,” said Floury. “Ferrari is strong on long runs, a little bit less than we have seen in quali in terms of the gap but still out of reach.

“I think they will go 1-2-3 in front, and then probably the Porsche and ourselves, Porsche a little bit better than us.”

Kamui Kobayashi was the best-placed Toyota driver in sixth position with a time aboard the #7 GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar that left him nine tenths off Antonio Fuoco’s pole-winning Ferrari 499P LMH.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 — Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Floury suggested that the second Toyota would have been “in the same ballpark” but for Brendon Hartley’s spin, which resulted in the New Zealander completing only one push lap on the way to eighth position in Hyperpole.

“That was more or less where we could be,” said Floury. “We will do the best we can in the race and try to get two cars in the points.”

Estre, who ended up six tenths off the pace and another couple of tenths up on team-mate Matt Campbell, expressed satisfaction with the performance of the factory Porsche Penske Motorsport team so far at a circuit on which it was expecting to struggle.

“If you look at the calendar, this track looked the most scary for us,” he explained. “This track is so different to anywhere else we race; it is definitely not suiting our car best.

“When we came testing here a month ago the car wasn’t good, but the team has done a really good job in putting the car in a better place.”

The Imola 6 Hours, round two of the 2024 WEC, starts at 13:00 local time.

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