Mike Conway says he is disappointed with his result from qualifying in the Eight Hours of Portimao, saying he didn’t extract the full potential from his Toyota Hypercar.
Conway qualified third for the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, just 0.176s away from polesitter Matthieu Vaxiviere and less than a tenth off the fastest time set by team-mate Brendon Hartley, who will line up second in the sister Toyota.
Margins during the ten-minute session were expected to be tight, but Conway commented he was left disappointed with his result on Saturday, as it left him with a feeling that there was more on the table.
“It was a very close session but I think I could have gone a bit quicker, so I am a bit disappointed,” he said. “I didn’t quite extract the full potential. I wasn’t too worried by the track limits on my first lap because we expected the second lap to be quicker anyway.
“We pushed for pole by taking another set of new tyres but I couldn’t get them to work on the first flying lap; it seems to take us a bit longer to get them in the right window.
A difficulty to get the Michelin Hypercar tyres to work over a single qualifying lap appears to be something of a common issue across the class, as Glickenhaus’ Richard Westbrook identified the same problem after his disappointing session left him nearly two seconds off the pole time.
It was an issue also experience by Conway’s team-mate Brendon Hartley, who explained after the session that the #8 crew had attempted to find a way around the problem, which did not work out.
“We are still experimenting with our new Hypercar and we tried something different,” Hartley said. “On the first run we used scrubbed tyres because we saw in practice that the new tyres were struggling.
“We had a back-up plan in case that didn’t work, which was good because it didn’t work. That put some pressure on for my last lap and I feel happy with the job we did. It was good planning and team work to get on the front row.
“I think it was possible to get pole position because it was very close in the end but Alpine took it. Well done to them.”
While Westbrook and Glickenhaus will be forced to start the race behind the majority of the LMP2 field, Hartley and Conway managed to stay ahead of class polesitter Tom Blomqvist and will therefore start ahead of the LMP2 field.
“On the positive side, we are ahead of the LMP2 cars, which makes the start of the race a little easier, and we go into the race knowing the car is competitive,” Conway concluded. “The gap is very close so both cars have a great chance. We will fight at the front and push for the best possible finish.”