Porsche Motorsport Logo
Porsche dominates opening round of World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Qatar with podium sweep


Qatar 1812km: Porsche dominates opening round

Porsche dominated the opening round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Qatar, sweeping the podium and taking a commanding overall victory with the Porsche Penske Motorsport No. 6 car.

Kevin Estre, André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor were in control for much of the 10-hour Qatar 1812km at Lusail International Circuit, taking Porsche’s first win in the Hypercar class.

Hertz Team JOTA’s No. 12 car, driven by Will Stevens, Callum Ilott and Norman Nato, finished second for the team’s first Hypercar podium, with the No. 5 Porsche, driven by Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen and Frederic Makowiecki, completing the podium.

Having lined up fifth, the No. 6 entry cut through the cars ahead before emerging ahead after a fierce battle with the No. 93 Peugeot. From there, it held the lead until the end, continuing Porsche’s fantastic start to the 2024 season after winning the IMSA 24 Hours of Daytona and the Bathurst 12 Hour. 

Porsche also took the first LMGT3 win with the Manthey PureRxcing No. 92 entry, driven by Alexander Malykhin, Joel Sturm and Klaus Bachler.
The No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport car returns to pitlane for the podium ceremony
The trio took Porsche’s first WEC win since 2017

Story of the race

The No. 5 car lined up first on the grid after taking Porsche’s first WEC pole since 2017 in Friday’s Hyperpole qualifying session, with Campbell setting a 1m39.374s. The sister No. 6 car lined up fifth. The whole field started on the hard compound, red-walled tyres.

Christensen took the wheel for the first stint of Saturday’s race, running second into Turn 1 having been passed by the No. 50 Ferrari, while the No. 6 car, driven by Vanthoor, fell back to eighth in the opening melee. 

The No. 6 quickly began its progress through the field, passing the No. 7 Toyota around the outside of Turn 1 on lap five, making up another spot four laps later. Up ahead the No. 5 was embroiled in a fierce battle for the lead with the No. 93 Peugeot, before falling back to third.

I had a lot of fun, the car was a joy to drive. Just in general I think I’m still pretty speechless but if you compare to where we were 12 months ago, the way the team evolved, the way we evolved together, it’s pretty amazing.

Laurens VanthoorPorsche No. 6 driver
By lap 22, the two Porsche Penske Motorsport cars were running fourth and fifth, with the No. 5 car in front. It pitted soon after as the first stops began shortly after lap 30, while the No. 6 inherited the lead before it too stopped two laps later. The pair emerged into second and third, with both having taken fuel but no fresh tyres at that point of the race. 

On lap 45, the No. 6 car was once again embroiled in a tussle for the lead with the No. 93 car, remaining close for almost ten laps before taking control from the Peugeot, while the No. 5 car was in third.
The No. 5 Porsche ahead of one of the Toyotas and a Hertz Team JOTA Porsche
The No. 5 Porsche started on pole for Saturday’s Qatar 1812km
Christensen handed over to Campbell on lap 56 as the No. 5 car stopped early due to tyre-related vibrations at the rear, before a full course yellow prompted by the No. 51 Ferrari losing a huge piece of rear bodywork neutralised the action for two laps, reducing speeds to 80km/h.

The No. 6 was back in the lead by lap 71, with Vanthoor handing over to Estre for its second stint. Makowiecki took the reins in the No. 5 entry when that car stopped on lap 122, exiting in ninth. 

Lotterer was next to pilot the No. 6 car, taking over on lap 131, and maintained the lead with a 38 second margin ahead of the second-placed No. 93. Another full course yellow came around the four-and-a-half hour mark, with a piece of debris on track, lasting two minutes, before the No. 6 car stopped around the halfway mark, at 163 of 335 laps, retaining its commanding lead.

The hard work started a very long time ago now and it paid off today.

Kevin EstrePorsche No. 6 driver
The No. 5 faced stiff competition to its third-place running, with the Hertz Team JOTA No. 12 entry close behind, and emerged from its pitstop with Christensen back at the wheel behind the customer car to run fourth.

Meanwhile, No. 6 held its lead, with Vanthoor in for another stint while holding a 19 second lead to the No. 93 Peugeot. Though that dropped to ten seconds by lap 203, it returned to 17 seconds 15 laps later before extending to 23 seconds by lap 222.

With 100 laps remaining, No. 5, piloted by Christensen, was closing on the third-place running JOTA No. 12, just 1.8s behind the rival Porsche 963. A pitstop followed soon after, with Campbell taking over heading into the closing stages.
The No. 6 Porsche as the sun set over Lusail International Circuit
As day turned to night, the No. 6 Porsche 963 held the lead of the 10-hour race
A fierce battle ensued between No. 5 and the No. 38 JOTA, piloted by Jenson Button. The pair tussled for several laps before Campbell eventually made it past after Button ran wide on lap 254, moving up into third place. The leader stopped soon after, with Estre stepping back into the cockpit to take over from Vanthoor.

The No. 5 car came close to disaster after a rear end snap on lap 274 saw him run through the Turn 9 gravel, but didn’t lose any positions as he held fourth place. As cars ahead stopped, Campbell moved up to second, before dropping back to fourth after another stop while No. 6 held the lead.

Very happy to be here and congratulations to the whole team - it’s a great day for Porsche.

André LottererPorsche No. 6 driver
The leader contracted damage to the front left after contact with the No. 87 Lexus at Turn 3, losing a number plate, but was able to continue without issue.

As the No. 93 Peugeot stopped with 15 laps remaining, the No. 5 moved up into second, before dropping back to fourth after its own stop on lap 324.

The race culminated in a hugely dramatic final three laps after the No. 93 suffered an issue on the penultimate lap and slowed, with both the No. 12 JOTA entry and the No. 5 Porsche passing it for the podium places.
The three Hertz Team JOTA drivers of the No. 12 car on the podium
The No. 12 Hertz Team JOTA car finished second after a hard-fought battle

Customer success

Success also came in the opening round for Porsche customer team Hertz Team JOTA.

The No. 12 car lined up third, with a 1m39.622s set in the Hyperpole session, while the sister No. 38, piloted by Jenson Button, Phil Hanson and Oliver Rasmussen, started ninth.

The No. 12 lost one position off the line, while the No. 38 made up three places, to run fourth and fifth respectively before the No. 7 Toyota split the two. The JOTA cars traded places with the factory entries several times, with Button in the No. 38 and Campbell embroiled in a battle before the latter took third place as Button’s stint ended.

Disaster struck for the No. 38 car with less than 30 laps remaining after an isolation issue with the hybrid lights during a pitstop meant it was forced into the garage.

Proton Competition’s sole entry, the No. 99 driven by Harry Tincknell, Neel Jani and Julien Andlauer, started 13th. 

Making up three places by Turn 1, the F.A.T.-sponsored entry was embroiled in the battle for eighth by lap 14 before dropping back to tenth. Running just outside the top ten for much of the race, with 30 laps remaining, it was involved in a fight with the No. 51 Ferrari, with Andlauer putting in a brilliant move at Turn 1 to take 14th.
The three Manthey PureRxcing drivers took the first WEC LMGT3 victory
The Manthey PureRxcing entry took the first ever LMGT3 victory

A new dawn: LMGT3 makes its debut

The Qatar 1812km marked the LMGT3’s class debut in the WEC as it replaced the GTE-Am class, with the No. 92 entry taking a milestone win for Porsche.

The Manthey PureRxcing car started second in its class, with the Manthey EMA No. 91 car further back in 13th, piloted by Yasser Shahin, Morris Schuring and Richard Lietz.

The No. 92 was up to second at the start, quickly taking the lead, as the No. 91 made progress to ninth by lap 12. It continued its charge through the field over the next stages, with the Manthey pair running first and second in the class by lap 67.

Disaster struck for the EMA car on lap 161, when it was forced into the garage by a technical issue and an electric throttle actuator had to be changed. It returned to the race in 17th in its class, but had to stop again as a plug was not reconnected properly. 

Up ahead, the No. 92 continued its strong performance, and despite having been passed for the lead by the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin, continued its fight in second, six seconds off the pace with just over 100 laps remaining. It retook the lead soon after, taking advantage of a spin by the leader to once again lead the race by nine seconds.

It went on to cross the line almost five seconds clear of the No. 27 car. 

The World Endurance Championship returns for the 6 Hours of Imola on 21 April.