Fresh from the 24 hours of Nürburgring, team Glickenhaus decamped to the eight-hours of Portimao in Portugal for the legendary eight-hour race. It would be the first time the 007 Hypercar would race in WEC. As the team gets ready for the next rounds of the WEC at Monza and then Le Mans, we caught up with team owner Jim on how this first great test went.
Jim, we’re here at Portimao, and the Glickenhaus 007 is competing in its first WEC race. How are you feeling?
It's very emotional. This is our first WEC race and the WEC is a lot different than the 24 hours of Nürburgring or the Baja 1000, which we also compete in. The WEC is really the ultimate temple of sports car racing. Portimao and Monza are the prelude to Le Mans, which for us is the holy grail of motor racing.
How was the car’s performance over the weekend?
We're very proud to show up today. But we had some issues. In the first stint, our tyre pressures were way too high, and the tyres degraded horribly, so the car was not really drivable. By the second stint, we worked that out, and began going a little quicker. And throughout the day, we were about 1.7 seconds off Toyota. The tyres on the Toyota work a lot better because it's all-wheel drive, whereas our car is rear-wheel drive, which puts a lot more pressure on the tyres. Michelin is going to need some time to get them right, but they will do it.
The next thing that happened was, unfortunately, at a track like Portimao it’s very hard to pass and there are lots of slower and faster cars. When we passed a GT car, contact was made. Unfortunately, it damaged some of the wiring in the car. The shifting was erratic, but worse, when the driver got back on track, they forgot to put on the pit limiter and launch control and fried the clutch. We fixed it in one hour and had the car back on track. So we were really happy with that, and when we went out again we were consistent, and set our fastest lap of 1:32. Considering the quickest lap of the race was a 1:31, it shows we’re competitive. We were also very fast in the first two sectors, and a bit slower in the third. But we had predicted that as that’s a downforce sector and we chose a low downforce, high v-max set up. We hit 314kms on the straight, which is a really good result.
So, Monza’s next and then Le Mans. How do you think the rest of the season will go?
We think the car will be better suited to Monza, plus we’ll have two cars running, which mathematically gives you much more of a chance. And then we’ll be testing before the main event, Le Mans. We’ve also had a great response from other teams who’re interested in buying one of our cars. So, we’ll keep racing, and we’re looking forward to IMSA, where we’ll race at the great venues like Daytona, Lime Rock, Watkins Glen and Laguna Seca.
Endurance racing is unique to other forms of motorsport, in terms of managing reliability and power over a long period. What’s your view on that?
The first thing is to finish. People don't realise that you can have a big problem and be in the pits for a while but then, in a 24-hour race, other people might have problems and all of a sudden, you're in the running. So, you never stop. You keep going. The next thing is you have to make the car comfortable for the drivers. They have to be able to see, it has to work in the rain, it has to be cool in the cockpit. Endurance racing is a lot different to sprint racing. It puts a tremendous strain on the car. But we love it. This is our 11th endurance race, and we always finish them all.
How did Motul’s lubricants perform?
When the clutch went, the motor revved to 11,900rpm, which is way too much. But the Motul oil held up really well. We drained some out, swished it around in a plastic dish, and saw no metal. So, we figured, “hey, maybe the engine’s okay”, and we kept running. And it was. And it was the same with the gearbox.