Competitors in the FIA World Endurance Championship face a new challenge this weekend at the first-ever 8 Hours of Portimão. After the exciting opening race of Season 9 at Spa, the Ferraris will again battle it out in the LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am classes. Ahead of the race, the LMGTE Pro class crews for the next edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours were also announced.
LMGTE Pro. The two AF Corse 488 GTEs, crewed by Pier Guidi-Calado and Molina-Serra, will seek to build on their excellent start in Belgium, where they finished the 6 Hours in second and third position, respectively. On a track that hosts the European Le Mans Series and where Ferraris have consistently shown excellent potential, they will again go head-to-head with the Porsches in a race that will see 32 crews start in the four classes. “It's a track I haven't raced on for many years, but I really like it because it's high-speed and offers a good level of grip”, explained James Calado. “The eight-hour race offers extra points, and that's important for the championship, so we'll give our all to be competitive. The Balance of Performance hasn't changed, so we know that the Porsches start with an advantage, but eight hours is a long time and allows for different strategies and results”.
LMGTE Am. The Am class will see many more 488 GTEs on track, with the championship leaders, Perrodo-Nielsen-Rovera, looking to repeat their splendid victory in Belgium. The first of the two AF Corse crews will seek to repeat the Spa win on the 4,684 metres and 15 turns of the Portuguese track, while the second, crewed by Flohr-Castellacci-Fisichella, aim to improve on fourth place in the opening race. The Cetilar Racing trio of Lacorte-Sernagiotto-Fuoco, clearly have the podium in their sights after finishing third in their first race in the endurance world championship. Kessel Racing will also return to top-level competition with Japanese driver Takeshi Kimura in the 488 GTE, flanked by Jensen and Andrews. Finally, two Ferraris will appear in the colours of Iron Lynx, crewed once again by Schiavoni-Piccini-Cressoni and Frey-Gostner-Gatting. The latter comprise the first "Iron Dames" crew, given the absence of Katherine Legge.
Line-up for Le Mans. Meanwhile, the LMGTE Pro class crews for the next 24 Hours are also taking shape. Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado will be partnered in car no. 51 by Côme Ledogar, who drove in the Hyperpole in last year’s LMGTE Am class, while Davide Rigon will be back in no. 52 alongside Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra.
Programme. On Friday, the cars will take to the track for the first 90-minute free practice, followed by Saturday's ten-minute qualifying session at 6pm. On Sunday, the lights go off at 11am local time, and the chequered flag will wave at 7pm.