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Adrenaline in Imola, Toyota wins

Ferrari - Pilota Antonio Fuoco - Imola Press Office - copyright

Stefano Minelli

Adrenaline in Imola, Toyota wins

For the first time, the FIA World Endurance Championship competed at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari racetrack in Imola. A weekend in Emilia, April 19-21, 2024, where extreme luxury and suspense took center stage. In the first edition of the world championship, Ferrari shone in qualifying but the winner, Toyota, stood out during the 6-hour race on one of the most technical and beautiful circuits ever. Reached 73,600 total spectators proving that Motorsport is not just Formula 1. Ferrari did not win at home despite the promises of qualifying the day before, but the crowd was enthusiastic nonetheless. Imola is not just roar of cars but glamour, luxury, vital people. Opportunity granted to good wallets to watch the race from a VIP lounge from the top of the central tower towering over the track. Liked, among the fringe events, was the warm and heartfelt commemoration to the well-known driver Ayrton Senna, who died in an accident precisely at Imola 30 years ago, and the celebration for the 125th anniversary of the Italian Guardia di Finanza, which brought the public's attention skyward when a helicopter flew over the racetrack immediately after the singing of the Italian Anthem.
But let's look at the highlights of the overall unpredictable and decidedly exciting competition. Several twists and turns, the most important of which was the arrival of a thunderstorm with a rapid drop in temperatures, an event that was a game changer for the teams and disfavored Ferrari, which, having qualified with its three cars on the podium, finished with a fourth, seventh and eighth place. The arrival of rain and the various crashes and pileups that occurred during the race tested the racing teams in both Hypercars and LMGT3 cars (Le Mans grand touring cars). The victory went to Toyota, the current defending champion in the WEC. The brand stood out for its reliability during the 6-hour race. For the GT3 cars, first and second place went to both BMW M4s of the WRT team. Also seen proudly back on the podium (second place) was nine-time world champion in the MotoGP arena, Valentino Rossi, who recently left the motorcycle world to race with Team WRT.
A multitude of incidents “colored” the race: the first within moments of the start with immediate entry of the Saefety Car and momentary blocking of the cars. Remarkable performance and the now well-known reliability of the Penske Motorsport Porsches allowed the stable to obtain a second and a third place in the Hypercars category.
  Problems, on the other hand, for the women-only GT3 Iron Dames team faced various difficulties with their Lamborghini Huracan, distinguished by the bright pink color that makes the car stand out from the others. The female professionals initially made several stops at pit stops due to technical problems and then withdrew from the race. The competitive spirit of the newly formed Isotta Fraschini team, a brand that recently debuted in the racing world after a closure that lasted since 1950, is remarkable. The team suffered the initial crash due to the limited space on the track given by the crush of cars in the early laps. The car sustained some aerodynamic damage due to a piece of carbon that got stuck in the front grill of the car, this disadvantaged the Milanese team from the start. Not one of the best races as far as Alpine Endurance Team, Renault's racing group, is concerned. One of the two cars suffered very heavily in the first accident with the BMW, ruining the front of the car entirely with no chance to continue the race. The Alpine cars finished 15th and 17th, penultimate and third last because the BMW involved in the accident was disqualified (last place).
 Several accidents but no serious damage, Imola is a very technical and difficult circuit that tests drivers in various situations, both psychologically and physically but above all it questions the reliability of the cars they race. Sparkling finale in the podium celebrations with the well-known “track invasion”: the opening of the gates that allows impetuous access to the track for all spectators.