Nothing is over for the LMP1 class just yet, which is set to make big changes following the announcement that Porsche would be leaving the World Endurance Championship. So far in Austin, the battle for ultimate Le Mans prototype domination has been absolutely ruthless in the best way possible.
Porsche wants nothing more than to end with another championship, and Toyota always wants to prove their program’s worth as they’re not sure what the series or their corporate overlords are going to do next year just yet.
Toss three-time World Touring Car Champion José María López in the No. 7 Toyota on slightly older tires and holy crap, this battle behind the leader was insane. He and Andre Lotterer in the No. 1 Porsche touch fenders like they’re in touring cars, just ain’t care. And mind you, this was the battle for second only an hour and a half into a six-hour race.
Lotterer and López just don’t give up, either, dicing back and forth for position. Moments later, López got back around Lotterer by getting a better launch out of a turn.
But it just didn’t quit. I’m here at the race this weekend, and I got glued to the camera following the LMP1s around regardless because this fight for position was so insane.
Pretty soon, the No. 7 Toyota’s tires caught up to him, allowing the No. 1 Porsche past and the No. 2 Porsche to catch up to him. The battle was done—for now—but I’m sure it will come back soon.
“I wanted to fight,” López said of the scrap back and forth. It worked, too—it allowed his sister No. 8 Toyota TS050 to speed ahead while the other LMP1s were dicing back and forth for second and third place. Porsche didn’t retake the lead until everyone cycled through the pits for fresh tires. The Toyotas have been more competitive today than most expected after they qualified down on pace from the Porsches, so this is going to be good.