Endurance Racing News and Stories

RACE ANALYSIS: How JOTA took their first overall WEC win

Phil Oakley

JOTA’s first FIA World Endurance Championship race win, on Saturday in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, was one for the ages.

It was one of those feel-good moments for a team which has been competing in the championship and at Le Mans for well over a decade. The team has won multiple LMP2 races and championships in the lead up to this, but Saturday was something else.

Detractors will say that JOTA only won because of the red flag and chance; they happened to pit just before Earl Bamber’s massive crash in the Cadillac along the Kemmel Straight. That without that JOTA wouldn’t have won, that it was Ferrari’s race and they were robbed.

While some may be true — it was chance the #12 JOTA had already made its penultimate stop when the red came out, and maybe the win wouldn’t have been possible without the stoppage.

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“I think we were hovering around P5, P6, P7,” Ilott said when The Racing Line asked where they would have finished had the red flag not been flown.

“I think if you get it right with the GT traffic, I could have moved forward a bit.

“I had some really strong pace. I think what hurt me a bit was not getting past the #6 [Porsche] early on, because I lost so much time there. But, yeah, once I was ahead, I just kept chipping away and it was great,” he concluded.

However, that last statement is true.

The Racing Line has done some analysis of the data, looking at the lap times and averaging them out. Specifically, we’ve taken the top 20% of lap times for each car and then created an average from those. By doing this you avoid any in-laps, out-laps, laps done under caution — full course yellow or safety cars — and laps impacted by traffic.

Car number

Team/manufacturer (* is factory)

Top 20% average


Porsche Penske*



JOTA Porsche



Proton Porsche



Porsche Penske*



Ferrari AF Corse*



AF Corse Ferrari



Alpine Signatech*



Chip Ganassi Cadillac*






Ferrari AF Corse*












Alpine Signatech*



JOTA Porsche



Lamborghini Iron Lynx*









Isotta Fraschini Duqueine*


This shows that the #12 JOTA was the second fastest car, on average, over the race. Indeed, the only car that was faster was the factory #5 Porsche. 

The data shows more than that though. Contrary to popular belief, that Ferrari had the fastest car at Spa, The Racing Line’s analysis shows that the fastest four cars were all Porsches. 

With the #5 fastest and the winning #12 second, the #99 — which had Julien Andlauer at the wheel, a star of the race for many — and the sister #6 factory car fifth. Only then do we get to the fastest average Ferrari, the #51, which was 0.336 slower than the #5 Porsche when looking at the data.

Indeed, the only slower Porsche was the sister #38 JOTA machine, which got taken out early on by an errant Rene Rast in the #20 BMW, meaning the #38 JOTA did not manage to set laps in the cooler conditions, especially after the red flag restart.

The #5 Porsche was the quickest car on average at Spa. Image: Porsche / Juergen Tap Photography

Okay, though. This race was essentially a two-parter — part one before the red flag, part two after. Was the #12 JOTA still the quickest car in ‘part one’?

Well, we’ve done the same thing — taken all the laps from before the red flag, found the top 20% for each car, and then averaged them out.

Simply put, the #12 was not the fastest car in this phase of the race. The data shows, in fact, it was on average 11th fastest, with the #5 Porsche fastest again — although this car did not compete in ‘part two’ as it retired with irreparable damage before the red flag.,

From the cars that finished the race, the #99 was fastest in part 1, then the #51 Ferrari, which had climbed through the field to lead for a good portion of the race before the red flag.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? Well, the Ferrari works better in hot conditions — that much is obvious. The Porsche seems to be a good all-rounder. It’s hard to draw conclusions about Cadillac’s pace because, obviously, the car was not racing after the red flag, when the conditions were cooler and therefore faster.

That said, though, JOTA quite evidently deserved this win. After the red flag, Ilott drove away from Kevin Estre — not exactly an easy task — and won by 12.363 seconds.

Did the Brit feel any pressure from behind?

“No,” he told The Racing Line, after the race. “It was, it was just cruise and… well, not cruise. I'm still pushing, but, like, get in the zone and just lap after lap after lap, I was super consistent.

“I had my engineer reminding me to stay focused. And then I was thinking about staying focused and I wasn't really focused. Nut just in the zone if you know what I mean. So it was great.”

A side note: Ilott’s fastest lap after the red flag was a 2:06.468. His average over this stint, taking every lap and removing his in-lap and out-lap for the car’s final pit stop, was 2:09.196. He got progressively slower over the stint, with the fastest lap coming on only the third lap after the restart, when he was pushing to get away from Estre. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this was a super consistent double stint from Ilott.

Ilott was very quick at the end of the race. Image: Stephen Fisher / Drew Gibson Photography

Side note #2: Ilott was the quicker of the two drivers. His top 40% average (40% over 20% because there's less data to play with) was a 2:08.607, while teammate Will Stevens's top 40% average was 2:09.416.

Not that this necessarily means anything at all. Firstly Ilott was in the car as the day cooled, especially after the red flag. Plus, for much of the race, Stevens had to contend with traffic, which as he said in the post-race press conference, was a struggle at times.

"Honestly, the first few stints were a bit of a struggle,” said the 32-year-old. 

“Especially the second stint, when we came out and the Toyota didn't change tyres. 

“We found it quite hard to pass here this weekend. We generally struggled to be in the last corner and through Eau Rouge. And that means it was quite hard at the start to actually overtake.

“Once we got in clean air, we had strong pace. It took me a few laps to get past the Toyota. But once we did, we could start cracking on and then our pace was pretty solid again, but you know these races. 

“Even though they're long, the battles are always pretty fierce. So, you need to be aggressive to stay ahead and make gains. But you also need to be sensible at points and pick your fights.

“I think we've done that well this weekend. We fought hard when we needed to, but we also didn't want to make any silly errors, and bring home good points. So yeah, we were in a great position and a new once Callum got in the car towards the end, we should be strong,” he concluded.

We’ll have more coming as we pull apart the data from Spa, so stick with us.

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