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WEC preview: 6 Hours of Imola

Written by Evan Veer, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina


Image: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

The World Endurance Championship makes its way to the historic Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari for the second round of its 2024 season. As a narrow track with several challenging turns, it will be interesting to see cars having to take risks to make their way through traffic with gravel traps lurking around nearly every corner.


Though this is its first time hosting a WEC round, Imola has already proven itself as an ideal endurance racing venue with local series such as the European Le Mans Series and GT World Challenge Europe, all having visited the track in recent years. In this case, it may very well be a one-off visit. 


As the Italian round is expected to Monza after it finishes its extensive track works which prevented it from hosting the WEC for the 2024 season, an expanding grid likely means the limited number of pitboxes in Imola will not be sufficient in years to come. 


Both Toyota and Ferrari are looking to turn things around after a disappointing season opener, as Toyota in particular seemed to lack pace during the race. Luckily for both of these manufacturers, alongside BMW and Isotta Fraschini, they have received a major weight reduction and a small power increase in the Balance of Performance(BoP). 


Those with a smaller weight cut generally received a greater power increase however, with the exception of Porsche and Peugeot.


The Porsches should have no issue keeping up the pace considering their stellar form in both the WEC and IMSA championships so far, with the Penske factory team winning each championship’s respective opening rounds, while the customer cars, ran by Hertz Team JOTA, proved themselves to be ready to take the fight to the factory teams around them.


After Peugeot’s tragic end to what could have been a great result at Qatar, the French manufacturer now stands at the start of a new stage in its Hypercar adventure with a major overhaul of the 9X8 concept.


The team hopes the many revisions made to the car should allow them to be competitive on a wider array of tracks and allow for a better balance in the BoP between itself and its competitors, 


However, these adjustments have come at the cost of losing the car’s most unique feature: the lack of a rear wing.


Expectations for the newly winged 9X8 should be kept low for its first outing as both the team and the BoP system need some time to adjust to the new design. In any case, the car is still a sight to behold in its striking new livery, even with its new aggressive wing.


The sole Cadillac LMDh will be piloted by just the two full-time drivers this weekend as the American manufacturer has made the decision to only fill their third driver slot for races longer than six hours.


The team is in a peculiar spot right now as it was recently announced that Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing will split at the end of the season, leaving Cadillac to choose a new factory team to run its likely two-car effort come next year.


Image Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

When it comes to the new Hypercars, the first round of the season was a remarkably good experience. Most teams came out relatively unscathed while BMW and Alpine showed some serious pace, even earning an eventual tenth and seventh place finish respectively. 


Lamborghini and Isotta Fraschini still have a long way to go however, and with both celebrating their first home race this weekend, they will be hoping for a big improvement compared to Qatar.


After being injured in a testing crash at Aragon last month, Ferdinand Habsburg will not be able to race the #35 Alpine this weekend, hence his seat being filled by official Alpine reserve and GT ace Jules Gounon.


The Frenchman’s Hypercar debut is an unexpected but very welcome surprise as he has been hard at work to find his way into top class prototypes to follow in the footsteps of his father Jean-Marc Gounon.


Down in LMGT3, the season opener was mostly dominated by the manufacturers most familiar to the series such as Porsche, Aston Martin, and Ferrari, while the newer cars struggled to find their feet. One exception to this was BMW, as the #46 WRT had its eye on the podium until losing out in the closing stages of the race. 


In Hypercar, the advantage of being familiar with the car and championship will likely be a major factor in deciding how the pecking order stacks up, though of course that gap will start to come down as the season progresses. McLaren and Lexus will be aiming for a more incident-free weekend after a chaotic start to their LMGT3 adventures.


When it comes to the new Hypercars, the first round of the season was a remarkably good experience. Most teams came out relatively unscathed while BMW and Alpine showed some serious pace, even earning an eventual tenth and seventh place finish respectively. 


Lamborghini and Isotta Fraschini still have a long way to go however, and with both celebrating their first home race this weekend, they will be hoping for a big improvement compared to Qatar.


After being injured in a testing crash at Aragon last month, Ferdinand Habsburg will not be able to race the #35 Alpine this weekend, hence his seat being filled by official Alpine reserve and GT ace Jules Gounon.


The Frenchman’s Hypercar debut is an unexpected but very welcome surprise as he has been hard at work to find his way into top class prototypes to follow in the footsteps of his father Jean-Marc Gounon.


Down in LMGT3, the season opener was mostly dominated by the manufacturers most familiar to the series such as Porsche, Aston Martin, and Ferrari, while the newer cars struggled to find their feet. One exception to this was BMW, as the #46 WRT had its eye on the podium until losing out in the closing stages of the race. 


In Hypercar, the advantage of being familiar with the car and championship will likely be a major factor in deciding how the pecking order stacks up, though of course that gap will start to come down as the season progresses.


McLaren and Lexus will be aiming for a more incident-free weekend after a chaotic start to their LMGT3 adventures.


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