WEC: Porsche scores 1st LMP1 win in Sao Paulo; Tom Kristensen finishes 3rd in final race


Porsche has taken its inaugural LMP1 victory in World Endurance Championship competition, but perhaps not in the way they would’ve preferred.

With less than half an hour to go in the season-ending Six Hours of Sao Paulo, Mark Webber’s No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid was destroyed in a brutal accident that also involved the No. 90 8Star Ferrari (GTE-Am) of Matteo Cressoni.

Thankfully, both drivers are awake and alert following the crash, which ultimately caused FIA race officials to have the race end under safety car conditions.

That gave the overall/LMP1 victory to Porsche’s No. 14 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas, and Marc Lieb, which battled back from a mid-race tire puncture to score a huge win for their manufacturer.

The No. 8 Toyota of WEC driver champions Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi finished second, and coming home third was the No. 1 Audi with nine-time 24 Hour of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen at the controls, closing out his superb racing career with a podium finish.

Kristensen isn’t the only one that’s leaving the Audi team, either. Radio Le Mans reported during its post-race broadcast that Audi race engineer Howden Haynes is also stepping down from his position as well after what was his 100th race with the 4-Rings.

But the spotlight in post-race was rightfully on Kristensen, who was joined in a celebration by former teammates Allan McNish and Dindo Capello.

Together, the trio was considered a “dream team” and stands as one of the most successful driver partnerships in the history of international sports car racing. Now, Kristensen is the last of them to hang up his helmet.

In LMP2, the No. 47 KCMG Oreca of Richard Bradley, Matt Howson, and Alex Imperatori claimed the race win by a margin of 18 laps over SMP Racing’s No. 27 Oreca.

A minor mid-race crash involving Howson had caused the KCMG team to fall back, but the No. 37 SMP Oreca came to a stop on track while leading, allowing KCMG to take and hold point the rest of the way.

No. 27 pilot Sergey Zlobin and SMP locked up the LMP2 driver and team titles simply by finishing the race after G-Drive Racing’s No. 26 Ligier crashed out at the end of the first hour with Olivier Pla driving. The WEC’s live Twitter account said that a locking brake led to that incident.

As for the GT classes, Aston Martin Racing had a doubly good day at Interlagos with victories in both the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am categories.

In Pro, the duo of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke earned the second class win of the year for the No. 97 Vantage V8, and in Am, Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana, and Christoffer Nygaard got the No. 98 Vantage its third win of 2014.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”