No.7 Toyota wins thrilling WEC 6 Hours of Imola

The No.7 Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 Hybrid Hypercar of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Nyck de Vries has won a dramatic and action-packed 6 Hours of Imola, round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Reigning World Champions Toyota clinched the victory on Ferrari’s home turf after rain brought drama and uncertainty in tyre strategy in the final two hours which saw epic battles for the lead and other top 10 Hypercar places.
Kobayashi, however, managed to repel several changes, notably from the No.6 Porsche Penske 963 Hypercar which in the hands of Kevin Estre hustled the Toyota to the chequered flag with the two covered by just two seconds at the flag (7.081 seconds after a five second penalty was applied). It marks the No. 7 crew’s first triumph since the 2023 6 Hours of Fuji.
A total of 73,600 spectators attended the second round of the WEC as the World Championship made its debut at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari and marked the first race on European soil this year.
Round one winners Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor keep their title points lead after another strong performance for second position. Rounding out the podium was Porsche Penske team-mates Matt Campbell, Frederic Makowiekci and Michael Christensen to make it a double podium for the German manufacturer.
Ferrari AF Corse were on course to win today’s race but a tyre strategy decision when rain fell during the race’s fourth hour ultimately led to the No. 50 and No. 51 Ferrari 499P Hypercars dropping down the leaderboard. Nicklas Nielsen, Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco clawed back up the leaderboard to finish fourth, Fuoco passing Hartley when the Toyota he shared with Sebastien Buemi and Rio Hirakawa lost time at the Tamburello chicane on the final lap.
BMW M Team WRT scored its best WEC finish so far after Rene Rast, Robin Frijns and Sheldon van der Linde crossed the chequered flag in sixth place, the crew hindered by a late drive-through-penalty following a pit infringement. AF Corse Ferrari’s No. 51 Hypercar finished the race seventh, one spot ahead of the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari which lost time earlier in the race due to a penalty as a result of speeding under a FCY.
The new-look Peugeot 9X8 driven by Nico Mueller, Mikken Jensen and Jean-Eric Vergne finished ninth overall, taking points on the squad’s first race with the addition of a rear wing. Cadillac’s Racing Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn rounded out the top ten in the Cadillac V-Series.R.
The WEC will resume in just three weeks’ time in Belgium for the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (9-11 May).

Imola LMGT3 victory goes to No.31 BMW of Team WRT

No.31 Team WRT BMW M4 of Augusto Farfus, Darren Leung and Sean Gelael celebrate a famous victory of judging conditions perfectly to take LMGT3 victory, the first class win for the Bavarian marque in WEC.
They managed to beat the sister No.46 Team WRT car driven Maxime Martin, Valentino Rossi and Ahmed Al Harthy to make it a perfect day for the Belgian Team WRT squad that added an LMGT3 victory to its many LMP2 victories in previous seasons.
In an audacious strategy that involved staying on slick Goodyear tyres despite full wet conditions in the third sector of the Imola track, the No.31 car was able to assert its authority in the final two hours. Farfus wrested the lead from Maxime Martin in the penultimate hour after putting a well-judged move on the Belgian at the Variante Alta chicane
Farfus then pulled out a gap before being able to relax a little when Martin was forced to serve a drive-through penalty for teammate Valentino Rossi earlier speeding under a virtual full course yellow period.
The experienced Brazilian utilised his Goodyears perfectly and won the category by a solid 22-seconds to ensure that both he and BMW took their first ever WEC win. Sean Gelael became a winner in two classes after previous LMP2 success, while Leung celebrated his debut win in only his second ever WEC start.
The podium was completed by the Manthey PureRxcing squad of Joel Sturm, Aliaksandr Malykhin and Klaus Bachler who all continue their strong start to the season.
The Qatar 1812kms winners led the race from pole position in the hands of Malykhin but they lost the lead when they decided to change to wet tyres when the rain arrived at the start of the fifth hour.
That bumped them down to third place but they still retain the championship points lead after scooping 16 points for third place and Malykhin’s Saturday pole position.
The No.55 VISTA AF Corse Ferrari 296 LMGT3 of Simon Mann, Francois Heriau and Alessio Rovera claimed their best result of the season with fourth place, after leading for a short period in Heriau’s hands in the second hour.
The top six was completed by the Heart of Racing Aston Martin of Ian James, Daniel Mancinelli and Alex Riberas in fifth and the No.59 United Autosports McLaren of Joshua Caygill, Marino Sato and Nicolas Pino McLaren.