How a Silly Sticker Won Porsche Its First WEC Hypercar Race

When faced with a penalty that would cost them the race win, the Porsche folks got smart. Very smart.

byJerry Perez|
WEC photo


Top racing series have hefty rulebooks to keep a leveled playing field—or try to, at least. Sometimes these make sense to the general audience, and others don't. NASCAR Cup driver Joey Logano recently got slammed with a penalty for something as silly as modifying his driving gloves, but this past Saturday's FIA World Endurance Championship race from Qatar showed us yet another funky rule.

Following the retirement of the No. 98 Peugeot 9X8 in the early stages of the 10-hour endurance race (1,812 km), the No. 6 Porsche 963 of Porsche Penske Motorsport driven by Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre, and Andre Lotterer held a commanding lead over its Hypercar rivals. With less than two hours to go, however, the Porsche was involved in a light collision with a Lexus GT3 car while slicing its way through traffic.


While the contact didn't mechanically hurt the Porsche, it managed to knock off its illuminated number place—which identifies the car to other competitors, fans, TV cameras, etc. This, it turns out, was a major problem, because per the rules, the car's number plate "must remain visible on both sides under all circumstances."

After more than eight hours of hard racing, Porsche Penske Motorsport faced a dilemma. One option was to continue racing and win—but face a penalty post-race. This would essentially mean dropping down the finishing order or maybe even facing disqualification. The other option was to fix the issue, but this wouldn't be quite so simple. Furthermore, a lengthy pit stop would allow the second-place, No. 93 Peugeot driven by former F1 racer Jean-Eric Vergne to take the lead.

The solution? A sticker. See, instead of replacing the complicated digital number plate, the clever folks figured out that a sticker would meet the rule requirements and get them out of hot water with the officials. I'm no vinyl expert, but I guess that a $5 or $10 sticker is what ultimately helped Porsche win its maiden WEC Hypercar race.

Estre was promptly called into the pits for its new sticker and the crew quickly applied the decal so it could get back out on the track without losing a position. Everything went smoothly, though I'm sure more than one person will forever be haunted by the crease on the sticker's right side. These guys are perfectionists, y'know?

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"We couldn't risk lapping or finishing the race without the number displayed, so our team jumped into action," reads the team's statement on Instagram. "A quick check of the regs meant we knew exactly where to stick it and the car was called to box.

"With the replacement sticker in hand, the car pitted, Andre stuck it on and we returned to the race without losing a position."

Much like Logano's glove fiasco, this is all kind of silly. I get the importance of rules and their enforcement, but it's not like the No. 6 Porsche simply couldn't be identified without its left-hand-side number plate. The car still had at least two if not three visual identifiers on its bodywork, and then there's the fact that every car is infinitely tracked by all kinds of timing and telemetry devices.

Either way, this is a perfect example of why I love racing. This almost-costly oopsie forced the Penske Porsche staff to come up with a creative solution—and boy, they hit it out of the park. Congrats.

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