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Jota: WEC Spa qualifying showing on car debut "exceeded expectations"

Jota splitting the factory-run Porsche 963s in qualifying on its debut with the car at Spa's World Endurance Championship round has "exceeded expectations" according to Hypercar team principal Dieter Gass.

#38 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche 963 - Hybrid: Anto?nio Félix da Costa, William Stevens, Yifei Ye

Paul Foster

Will Stevens logged the seventh fastest time in Friday evening's Hypercar session on the first appearance for a customer 963 LMDh in the WEC, 2.095s down on the polesitting #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID of Kamui Kobayashi.

His time was 0.601s off Kevin Estre in the lead Penske-run works Porsche in sixth, but 0.743s ahead of the sister #5 car in the hands of Fred Makowiecki.

Having not run the car prior to FP1 on Thursday following its shakedown at Weissach last week, and stated that the event would be considered as a test before June's Le Mans 24 Hours, Gass told Autosport that its qualifying showing had surpassed expectations.

"Already I will say the run up, yesterday, this morning has exceeded the expectations a little bit," he said.

"We had some small hiccups, mainly things that we had to learn on the car. But generally everything was running fine.

"I think the qualifying, to be able to run it, I would say really in a proper way, was all we could have been asking for, if not a little bit more.

"The weekend shows really the level of quality that there is in the team, I’m really happy to work with them and you see the passion in everybody.

"When the car went out in FP1 yesterday, you had people standing there with tears in their eyes and it shows everything, it’s fantastic."

#38 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche 963 - Hybrid: Antonio Félix da Costa, William Stevens, Yifei Ye

#38 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche 963 - Hybrid: Antonio Félix da Costa, William Stevens, Yifei Ye

Photo by: Paul Foster

Gass stressed that its qualifying performance would "absolutely not" alter its expectations for tomorrow's six-hour race as "we’re here to learn, to get to know the car, be able to run it".

"Maybe with the external part, you need to manage expectations a little bit," he said. "Tomorrow we want to do the race, we want to gain experience, we want to see the flag.

"That is going to be an important, if not the most important,, step in our preparation for Le Mans."

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Drivers Stevens, Ye Yifei and Antonio Felix da Costa had been "reasonably hesitant with the feedback" due to their limited time in the car, Gass explained.

Jota has gradually closed its deficit to the pacesetter with each dry session, having lapped 6.066s off the pace in FP1 and closed that to 4.840s in FP2 before going third fastest of all Hypercars on a drying track in FP3.

"We haven’t had enough running on the limit to properly make an assessment," he said.

"So I think we want to wait a bit more to be able to assess what’s going on exactly and then obviously have the chance to work on the car as well."

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