8h Portimao mid-race report: Alpine/Toyota battle continues
Photo: WEC

8h Portimao mid-race report: Alpine/Toyota battle continues

Alpine Elf Matmut leads the 8 Hours of Portimao, round two of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship, at the halfway stage.

Ferrari extends advantage in LMGTE Pro; United Autosports USA fightback in LMP2 despite two penalties, and Giancarlo Fisichella takes charge in tight LMGTE Am battle 
The main headlines from the past two hours:

•    Alpine Elf Matmut continue to hold small advantage over pair of Toyota GR010-Hybrids throughout mid phase of race 
•    Andre Negrao completes 1hr36mins stint and is able to slightly increase lead to around 16-seconds before handing over to teammate Matthieu Vaxiviere who sets fastest lap of race 
•    No.7 Toyota driven by Mike Conway overtakes No.8 sister car driven by Brendon Hartley in synchronised team move 
•    Hartley then stays with Conway before driver changes just before half distance as Kazuki Nakajima and Kamui Kobayashi take over 
•    Toyota adopt different tyre strategies at mid-race stop with No.8 taking scrubbed rubber
•    Glickenhaus Racing lose time in pits repairing accident damage and replacing clutch after incident in third hour with D’Station Aston Martin and No.77 Dempsey Proton Porsche just before third hour arrives and is forced to pit for repairs 
•    Romain Dumas re-joins the race so Glickenhaus 007 LMH can continue data gathering for next event at Monza 

•    No.51 AF Corse Ferrari extends lead in LMGTE Am as Alessandro Pier Guidi takes over from James Calado and stretches advantage to 35-seconds 
•    No.92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 driven by Neel Jani and then Michael Christensen loses time with significant blistering issues on tyres but remains in second 
•    Second AF Corse Ferrari driven by Miguel Molina closes on Porsche and tails Christensen by just three seconds 
•    No.91 Porsche driven by Frederic Makowiecki places fourth as both LMGTE Pro manufacturers juggle tyre management amid scorching track temperatures 

•    United Autosports USA take control of LMP2 in fourth hour after team substitute  Wayne Boyd completes double stint to hand car over to Paul di Resta  
•    Di Resta builds one minute lead over No.28 Jota Oreca-Gibson of Sean Gelael as LMP2 runners juggle with left side tyres strategies over course of the race 
•    But di Resta pits just before halfway mark, dropping to third, and temporarily handing lead back to Jota 
•    No.38 Jota car remains in contention as Jota attempt slightly different strategy with Roberto Gonzalez taking second stint at wheel before Antonio Felix da Costa takes over as team opt for single stint per driver plan. They place second at four-hour mark 
•    Team WRT launch fightback after taking two penalties – for pitlane speeding and blue flag infringement – halt its lead charge 
•    But Charles Milesi and then a second stint for Ferdinand Habsburg sees car back in contention and running in fourth position 
•    Racing Team Nederland run in top six with Frits Van Eerd completing second stint at the wheel and continuing to lead Pro/Am entries 
•    Inter Europol Competition sit third after Alex Brundle builds strong foundation in opening two stints before handing over to Louis Deletraz who takes Van Eerd deep in to second hour 

•    No.98 Aston Martin assert authority in tight LMGTE Am battle as Augusto Farfus surges to the front in fourth hour  
•    Brazilian ace adopts alternative tyre compound strategy and enjoys 20-second lead over former leaders Cetilar Racing and its Ferrari 488 GTE Evo 
•    Giorgio Sernagiotto holds fine second place as Italian team place well with Antoino Fuoco still yet to get in the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo 
•    No.54 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Thomas Flohr in comfortable third position ahead of WEC debutants Kessel Racing  
•    No.77 Dempsey Proton Racing entry retires in third hour, as does No. 777 D’Station Aston Martin which has radiator damage after earlier contact by Glickenhaus Hypercar