Jota not disappointed by Bahrain WEC podium near-miss

The Jota Porsche team is refusing to be disappointed after missing out on a maiden World Endurance Championship Hypercar podium by less than a second in Bahrain last weekend.

#38 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche 963: Antonio Felix Da Costa, Will Stevens, Yifei Ye

Team principal Sam Hignett insisted that fourth position for its Porsche 963 LMDh shared by Will Stevens, Yifei Ye and Antonio Felix da Costa was still a strong result, even though the car effectively lost a top-three finish to the best of the Ferrari 499P Le Mans Hypercars as the result of a drive-through penalty.

He pointed out that the Bahrain 8 Hours on Saturday was only the fifth start for Jota's Porsche, which came on stream two races into the 2023 season at Spa at the end of April.

“If you’d asked me back then that we’d be fighting with Ferrari for a podium and finishing only nine tenths behind after eight hours of racing, I would have taken that,” Hignett told Autosport.

“This is a good result for us, and everyone in the team should be pleased.”

He then made reference to the humble location of the team’s workshops.

“We’re the boys from the farmyard racing against the might of Maranello on maybe a tenth of its budget,” Hignett added.

“I think our car did an overtake on a Ferrari five times during the race, so how can we be disappointed?”

Stevens briefly ran third in the opening hour, Ye established the car in fourth and then da Costa began a charge that took him past Nicklas Nielsen in #50 and towards Mike Conway in the second-placed Toyota GR010 HYBRID LMH.

Jota struggled with its brakes in the Bahrain heat

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

Jota struggled with its brakes in the Bahrain heat

He closed to within 12s of Conway before the pitstop in the middle of his double stint, then going off at Turn 1 shortly afterwards.

The Jota car was given a drive-through penalty for an unsafe rejoin in front of the D’Station GTE Am Aston Martin.

Hignett said he had "no complaints that Antonio went off because he was trying hard”, but questioned the penalty he received.

“We’re not happy with the penalty because it’s difficult for a driver to see out of these cars wearing a HANS Device,” he explained.

He also pointed out that the instructions in the drivers’ briefing for cars going off at Turn 1 was to rejoin the track immediately rather than continuing on the asphalt and bleeding back onto the circuit at a less acute angle on the exit of Turn 3 at the end of the opening sequence of corners.

Stevens returned to the cockpit of the Jota Porsche for the run to the flag, closing a gap that stood at over eight seconds after the final pitstops to 0.962s at the chequered flag.

Hignett also revealed that the Jota Porsche had been experiencing braking issues in the latter stages of the race but that the team had decided to “just go for it” rather than trying to nurse the brakes.

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