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Start action, #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa, #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez leads
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WEC Portimao
Special feature

The chasm Toyota’s rivals must bridge before Le Mans

Despite losing one car from the victory fight through a failure not of its own making, Toyota still dominated the Portimao 6 Hours against its new factory rivals in the top class of the World Endurance Championship. Ferrari, most notably, made gains compared to the Sebring opener, but all of Toyota’s chasers know the performance gap to cut down remains monstrous

There was muted celebration, talk of steps taken and progress made, even gaps closed. But for all the other Hypercar class manufacturers there was still the dawning realisation last weekend that Toyota remains out of sight in the World Endurance Championship. The Japanese manufacturer again dominated on the Algarve on Sunday, even if the winning GR010 HYBRID finished a single lap clear rather than the two laps by which the marque triumphed at Sebring last month, and it failed to get one of its two cars to the finish cleanly.

Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa took victory in the Portimao 6 Hours with ease. The only real hiccup for the reigning WEC champions was a slow start from Buemi — “I was too conservative”, he said — that left his GR010 Le Mans Hypercar behind the best of the Ferraris in third for three laps. When he finally got ahead of the Italian car started by Nicklas Nielsen on lap four, Buemi was nearly five seconds down on team-mate Mike Conway.

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