Glickenhaus Debut the 007 Hypercar at the 2021 8 Hours of Portimao

Anthony Peacock
22 Jun , 2021
"I'd give us a seven or a seven and a half out of 10." That was the assessment from Jim Glickenhaus on the debut of his new Le Mans Hypercar in the Portimao 8 Hours round of the World Endurance Championship on June 13. He probably got it about right. There were pluses and minuses to draw from the first race of the new Glickenhaus-Pipo 007 LMH.

First off, the team's solo entry driven by two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Romain Dumas, Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe made it to the end of the eight hours around the up-and-down Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. That's an important point to make.  

There was a delay of about an hour while the new car under went a change of clutch, but the transmission problem was the result of driver error. Briscoe didn't engage the launch control software when he got going again after a spin late in the secoind hour. So it was, says Glickenhaus "entirely driver inflicted".

"A lot of people don't finish races with new cars," Glickenhaus pointed out. "Toyota didn't when it turned up in the WEC." The Japanese marque's maiden race with its first stab at an LMP1 prototype ended early at the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours: its two cars went out either side of the six-hour mark."

The 007's twin-turbo V8 powerplant was also over-revved in the clutch-breaking incident. "The engine went to 11,900rpm, but was okay to keep racing," revealed Glickenhaus. "Our engine is one tough bitch."

The clutch change meant there was no chance of a meaningful result in Portugal — though Glickenhaus did score a point in manufacturers' championship — but it was important to get back out into the race to maximise track time. The Portimao event, after all, was about learning lessons with brand new car as the team gears up for the big challenge of the Le Mans 24 Hours in August.

"Doing eight hours on this track isn't easy," said Dumas. "It was important to finish, and by getting back out there we learnt a lot. We've got to learn how to extract everything for that car. That's our job between now and Le Mans."

That process was clearly still on-going at Portimao. The car showed promise in free practice: Westbrook was ahead of both the Toyota GR010 HYBRIDs in the third of the three sessions and only a couple of tenths off the ultimate pace. But come qualifying, he could only put the Glickenhaus 11th on the grid after failing to improve on his FP3 time.

"We should have been quicker because we were on fresher tyres and a lower fuel load, and it was cooler, so it's disappointing," explained Westbrook. "The problem was we couldn't switch the tyres on."

Westbrook had two runs on a fresh set of Michelins, losing his best time that would have put him a couple places higher up the grid to a track-limits infringement.

"In hindsight I should have stayed out there on one set to bring them in," he said. "But that's why we're here: to learn those little lessons."

Jim Glickenhaus knows there's still work to be done with Michelin in terms of tyre development and making the rubber last through multiple stints. Michelin has had to develop a new range tyres for the two-wheel-drive Glickenhaus, and it had to start that process long before the car was ready to run back in February.

"It's a serious issue and a complex issue," explains Glickenhaus. "And it's all because Michelin had to develop the tyres virtually, because we couldn't give them a car early enough. But Michelin knows where the tyres need to be and I'm confident they are going to get there."

He is also confident that Glickenhaus Racing is going to be in "better shape" come the next round of the WEC at Monza in mid-July and then Le Mans in August. First, it will build on the lessons learned in Portugal, but it is also to understand that the 007 wasn't conceived for a tight and twisty circuit like Algarve. It was designed with the eight-and-a-half-mile Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans in mind.

"We designed the car with as little downforce as possible within the rules," said Glickenhaus. "So we're feeling good heading to Monza and onto Le Mans."

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