Toyota finally faces a new challenger

New Glickenhaus Le Mans Hypercar entry finally makes its World Endurance Championship debut in Portugal

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Few racing cars have been as eagerly anticipated as this one. Yet the machine in question wasn’t built by an established manufacturer or constructor but by a garagiste with big ambitions in the world of sports car racing. The Glickenhaus Le Mans Hypercar made its belated debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Portimão 8 Hours in mid-June.

The story of Jim Glickenhaus and his bid to take on the might of Toyota in the WEC this year and then Peugeot, Ferrari, Porsche, Audi et al in seasons to come has captivated the sports car world. There were probably as many people hoping that the fast-talking American’s baby would fail in Portugal as there were people rooting for it.

It’s hard to judge after the events at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve who will be best pleased, the doubters or the backers. It was an event of mixed fortunes for the brand new Glickenhaus-Pipo 007 LMH shared by Romain Dumas, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.

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Like it or loathe it? The Glickenhaus divided opinion, but ran well for its WEC debut

DPPI

Westbrook called it “a good base to build on” after opening practice for the Portimão race. And his comment held true for the rest of its maiden weekend in the WEC.

There were flashes of speed, most notably when it outpaced the Toyotas in third free practice, but the car wasn’t consistently fast. It was for the most part reliable, but there were glitches throughout the weekend.

Most significantly, the Glickenhaus did finish the race, albeit well down in 30th place overall after a long delay in the pits because the clutch needed changing following an on-track clash with a pair of GTE entries – for which Briscoe was to blame after misjudging his move. However, such misfortune was important for a team looking to learn about its new machine as well as competing in a new arena. The data accrued from Portimão will be vital in the Glickenhaus dream to take on the very best at the pinnacle of sports car racing. It’s too early to start making predictions about what the 007 can achieve come the Le Mans 24 Hours in August, but all things considered it was a decent start for the plucky minnow and signalled good things for any other similar privateer projects set to emerge in the new Hypercar era.

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BMW will be back in top-flight sports car racing for the first time since 2000 with a new LMdH project aimed for 2023. It won Le Mans in 1999 with this V12 LMR

BMW