Round 1 of the 9th season of the WEC was contested at the legendary Spa circuit on 1 May 2021. The result of this race in the GTE Pro class went in Porsche’s favour with the #92 Porsche 911 RSR of Kévin Estre/Neel Jani taking a commanding win. The #91 sister car of Gianmaria Bruni/Richard Lietz finished in fifth place in class being hampered by heavy traffic, a puncture and a rear end shunt by a Hypercar. The only Porsche finisher in GTE Am was the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche, and while a podium place was a possibility, a very late drive-through penalty torpedoed any chance of that happening.
However, the whole WEC community moves to Portugal this weekend for Round 2 at the 4.684 km Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, which is nestled in the hilly hinterland close to the coastal resorts of Portimão and Lagos. Most of the WEC races are 6-hour events and only require two drivers per car, apart from Le Mans that is, but because the Portimão race is an 8-hour event, three drivers per car will be used.
A total of 33 cars will take to the Portimão track on this weekend (13 June) in the four classes, made up as follows: Hypercar – 4 cars; LMP2 – 11 cars; GTE Pro – 4 cars; and GTE Am – 14 cars. Two factory Porsche 911 RSRs will be present in the GTE Pro class, with five 911s in the GTE Am class.
|GTE Pro||91||Porsche||Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz, Frédéric Makowiecki|
|92||Porsche||Kévin Estre, Neel Jani, Michael Christensen|
|GTE Am||56||Team Project 1||Egidio Perfetti, Matteo Cairoli, Riccardo Pera|
|77||Dempsey-Proton Racing||Matt Campbell, Christian Ried, Jaxon Evans|
|88||Dempsey-Proton Racing||Julien Andlauer, Dominique Bastien, Marco Seefried|
|86||GR Racing||Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker, Tom Gamble|
This is the first time that a round of the WEC has been held at this circuit which features 16 corners with many up and downhill sections. The steepest downhill section of the track has an incline of more than twelve per cent, and drivers are also faced with blind corners and deep gravel beds. The start-finish straight measures more than 969 metres, enabling the GTE-Pro vehicles to reach top speeds of around 270 km/h.
Following guidance from the public health and safety authorities, and given the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the WEC and local organisers in Portugal have decided that the event will go ahead without spectators. The decision was also made in accordance with the ACO and the FIA.
Where to watch the 8 Hours of Portimão
Round 2 of the FIA WEC in Portugal will be held on Sunday 13 June, and will run from 11h00 to 19h00. It will be televised by several major broadcasters including Eurosport and la chaine L’Equipe.
The FIA WEC app will also broadcast action from qualifying and the full eight-hour race plus exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.
As part of a new three-year deal in France, free-to-air TV channel L’Equipe will show the pre-race build-up and some parts of the race live. The full race will be available online at L’Equipe.Fr. In Germany, the full race will be shown live on Sport1+ and on Sport 1 from 17h00 – 20h15. In Belgium, RTBF will show the full race live on RTBF Auvio, its digital platform. Meanwhile, Eurosport will televise 3.5 hours on Eurosport 2 across Europe (including the UK) and a further two hours on Eurosport 1. Moreover, the full race will be live on Motorsport.tv and Eurosport Player, with highlights available online.
MotorTrend – a linear network dedicated to auto enthusiasts – will broadcast the first and last hour race live in the USA and the Caribbean, as well as post-race on MotorTrend network.
Residents in South America can watch the full race live via Fox Sports 3. Eurosport will also broadcast 5.5 hours of the race live pan Asia-Pacific and in Australia. Meanwhile, Super Sport will air the full race live on FTB as part of a pan-regional deal in Africa.
Finally, J Sports will broadcast the full race live to Japanese fans who can tune in to see home drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima in Toyota’s brand-new Hypercar. In New Zealand, fans can watch live via Sky.
Don’t forget to download the FIA WEC app which is available worldwide (apart from USA and Canada where it is geo-blocked). The app has English commentary on its live transmissions and official WEC highlights shows, with Allan McNish giving his expert insights.
For the rest of the world, there will be various TV channels and online platforms that will broadcast qualifying, the race and/or highlights.
Information relating to the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours just in…
The good news is that the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans (21-22 August) will be open to fans! Tickets go on general sale at 10h00 CEST on Monday 21 June.
Round 4 of the WEC will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans held over the weekend of 20-21 August, starting at the later time of 16h00 CEST. This will be the first time that the new Hypercar class will run at Le Mans.
Attendance will be limited to approximately 50,000 (20% of the usual capacity, subject to Government decisions) and spectators will be required to present the health passport introduced by the French Government on 9 June. By reducing capacity and using the health passport, we can host a premium-quality event safely.
Scrutineering (Saturday 14 August) and Test Day (Sunday 15 August) will not be open to the public. The circuit will be open to spectators from Wednesday 18 August for the first free practice sessions. Several campsites and car parks will be available. Entry will be free for under-16s (grandstand seats free for children under 8).
Given the continually changing health situation, there will be no concerts or funfair at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year. There will, however, be a whole range of entertainment to provide an outstanding experience for fans returning to the circuit.
In the event of a government-enforced cancellation or another closed-door event, all spectators will be refunded.
Vouchers and refunds
If you are holding a 2020 voucher, your order will be processed automatically before tickets go on sale based on your 2020 voucher and adapted to the 2021 organisation. If you have a voucher from the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans but can’t make it this year, simply fill in the refund application here.
The third round of the WEC will be the 6 Hours of Monza on 18 July.
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Porsche Werkfoto & Glen Smale