Endurance Racing News and Stories

PACE ANALYSIS: Can Porsche and Toyota challenge Ferrari at Spa?

Phil Oakley

Porsche and Toyota would like nothing more than to steal a win from pacesetters Ferrari at the 2024 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, but drivers from both teams have admitted it’ll be a challenge.

The Racing Line has looked at the lap times from free practice 2 to try and figure out a loose pecking order. On paper, it looks like it’ll be a close call — and Ferrari aren’t the fastest.

However, with free practice 2 interrupted by three full course yellows across the hour and a half session, getting a full picture of the pace is almost impossible.

When looking at the long run pace, the two Porsches were averaging 2:08.9s, with Toyota a tenth behind and Ferrari a further tenth behind them. 


Long run average pace in free practice 2















In terms of cars, the #5 Porsche was on top long run wise in FP2, averaging 2:08.5s, with the #50 Ferrari and #8 Toyota both in the 2:08.9s. The #7 Toyota followed in the 2:09s, followed by the #51 Ferrari and #6 Porsche in 2:09.3s.

Teams rarely use all they've got to offer in free practice, in order to stop rival teams knowing exactly what their true pace is. With that in mind, it's likely Ferrari is sandbagging and not pushing the car — so expect them to be amongst the fastest in the race.

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In a similar vein, Toyota’s Brendon Hartley told The Racing Line that the Japanese-German manufacturer still believed that Ferrari were still ahead in terms of pace.

“The Ferrari is still very quick. It's always hard to see what other people are doing with tires. I think with the others, it's much closer. But I think we won’t really know until the race. 

“But Ferrari clearly had a big pace advantage in Imola. They didn't show it at the beginning, they showed some of it at the end. Which of course is sensible for them to control the race, but they messed up the strategy.

“Here, it looks like they have a good pace advantage again, but let's see how that plays out in the race. They still have to execute to win it. So I think it's still all to play for.”

Photo: Ferrari

However, Cadillac were the surprise of the session, averaging 2:08.5s in the long run pace. There’s a big caveat there though — that they ran the least amount of laps in FP2, 23 laps, with their long runs interrupted by the FCYs.

Looking further down the field, BMW and Lamborghini look to be close, with Alpine a bit further back.

Intersecting this with the qualifying pace over one lap, with Ferrari quickest from Porsche and Cadillac, with Toyota only seventh fastest, Alpine eighth and BMW 10th, it seems the whole field is fairly close together. This is confirmed by the fact that in the Hyperpole session, second down to 10th were covered by nine tenths of a second.

Looking at how the race will play out, many drivers The Racing Line has spoken to believe it will be a question of how well tyres are managed.

“I think that's [tyre degradation] going to be a big topic in the race,” said Hartley.

“Who can manage that in the smartest way? I think there'll be some strategy at play as well, which tyres do you change, if you try and double or not. Put those tires and how you manage that because the resistance here is going to be tough.”

Photo: Porsche / Juergen Tap

Matt Campbell, meanwhile, reiterated that it’ll be similar to Qatar and Imola.

“Hard to say,” he said when asked if the race at Spa will be focused on tyre deg.

“I think obviously this is the same situation for everyone. But for sure as we've seen in both Qatar and also Imola, it'll be a lot about looking after your tyres and being smart in traffic.”

And finally, Cadillac’s Alex Lynn, who qualified the car third on the grid for the race, equalling Cadillac’s best WEC qualifying result, is “cautiously optimistic”.

“It's been nice to show that we can fight in this Championship. Our race pace seems to be okay. At the end of the day, the competition is very strong but we we seem all right.

“So, cautiously optimistic. We're starting in the right position so yeah, why not? Let's have a good day tomorrow and put it together,” he concluded.

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