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Can Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima seal the WEC title at Spa?

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Can Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima seal the WEC title at Spa?
By:
Apr 30, 2019, 12:20 PM

This weekend’s Spa FIA World Endurance Championship marks the penultimate leg of the 2018/19 superseason – and Toyota trio Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima have a slim chance of securing the drivers’ title with a race to spare.

Last time out at Sebring, Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima nudged further clear in the title chase after leading home another Toyota 1-2 ahead of teammates Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez.

That means the drivers of the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid have 135 points to their name, 15 more than their rivals in the sister #7 car – with a total of 64 left on the table at Spa and the Le Mans 24 Hours season finale in June.

It also signifies that Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima head to Spa with ‘match point’, albeit disaster would have to realistically strike the occupants of the #7 Toyota for them to come away with the championship with a round to spare.

The vagaries of the WEC points system, with a point on offer for pole position, half a point available merely for finishing anywhere outside the top 10 and of course a 1.5x multiplier for Le Mans, make the maths complicated.

But one thing is relatively simple: The #8 Toyota must win if Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima are to be crowned champions early; a second place finish, even if the #7 crew scores nothing, would not be enough with the number of points still up for grabs at the season finale at La Sarthe.

Supposing the #8 drivers do indeed notch up their fourth win of the season, they would be on 160 points, or 161 if they did so starting from pole.

In the former scenario, the assumption is the #7 Toyota starts on pole. If that was the case, Conway, Lopez and Kobayashi would need to merely finish to stay in the game, but if by some freak circumstance both Toyotas were beaten in qualifying, they would need to finish ninth.

If the #8 Toyota gets pole, then the bar is that little bit higher for the #7 crew – eighth place would be the magic position required to keep the title race alive.

But, let’s face it – barring an accident, mechanical failure (vanishingly rare these days) or a Silverstone-style disqualification, no Toyota is coming lower than second at Spa.

Just for the record, the only other drivers that can still mathematically win the title are Rebellion pair Gustavo Menezes and Thomas Laurent. But the chances of them leaving Spa still being part of the fight are so slim they aren’t even worth exploring.

The situation in the LMP1 teams’ championship is much simpler. The maximum amount of points Rebellion can still muster is 163. So to put the title out of reach at Spa, Toyota – on 151 points – needs just one of its cars to finish fourth or better.

#3 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Nathanae?l Berthon, Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent

#3 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Nathanae?l Berthon, Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent

Photo by: Paul Foster

GTE titles within reach for Porsche

While the LMP2 contest is sufficiently close that it can’t be decided at Spa, Porsche’s advantage in GTE Pro is such that it could conceivably come away with both drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles a race early.

Porsche is 100 points clear of Ferrari in the manufacturers’ stakes, meaning it needs a mere 11 points to sew up that particular prize at Spa (remember that, unlike in LMP1, both cars count for points). That means one of the 911 RSRs, which have been fast just about everywhere, needs to come P4.

For Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, who are 25 points ahead of Porsche squadmates Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz, there a number of scenarios in which they could be crowned drivers’ champions this weekend, which are as follows:

Estre and Christensen win the title if…

  • They win from pole and Bruni and Lietz don’t finish fourth or better;
  • They win (not from pole) and Bruni and Lietz don’t finish fifth or better;
  • They finish second from pole and Bruni and Lietz don’t finish seventh or better, and James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi don’t win;
  • They finish second (not from pole) and Bruni and Lietz don’t finish eighth or better, and Calado and Pier Guidi don’t win;
  • They finish third from pole and Bruni and Lietz don’t finish eighth or better, and Calado and Pier Guidi don’t win;
  • They finish third (not from pole) and Bruni and Lietz don’t finish ninth or better (or 10th with pole) and Calado and Pier Guidi don’t win.
#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR: Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre

#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR: Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre

Photo by: JEP / LAT Images

It’s a similar story in GTE Am, with Project 1 Porsche trio Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti likewise enjoying a 25-point buffer over their nearest opponents. Here’s how they could claim class honours in Belgium:

Bergmeister, Lindsey and Perfetti win the title if…

  • They win from pole and Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Giancarlo Fisichella don’t finish third or better;
  • They win (not from pole) and Flohr, Castellacci and Fisichella don’t finish fourth or better;
  • They finish second from pole and Flohr, Castellacci and Fisichella don’t finish seventh or better, Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda don’t finish third or better, Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood don’t win and Christian Ried and Matt Campbell don’t win;
  • They finish second (not from pole) and Flohr, Castellacci and Fisichella don’t finish seventh or better, (or eighth from pole), Lamy, Dalla Lana and Lauda don’t finish third or better (or fourth from pole), Yoluc and Eastwood don’t finish third or better and Ried and Campbell don’t win;
  • They finish third from pole and Flohr, Castellacci and Fisichella don’t finish eighth or better, Lamy, Dalla Lana and Lauda don’t finish fourth or better, Yoluc and Eastwood don’t finish second or better, Ried and Campbell don’t win and Matt Griffin doesn’t win;
  • They finish third (not from pole) and Flohr, Castellacci and Fisichella fail to finish, Lamy, Dalla Lana and Lauda don’t finish fifth or better, Yoluc and Eastwood don’t finish second or better, Ried and Campbell don’t win, Griffin doesn’t win and Michael Wainwright and Ben Barker don’t win.
#56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR: Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, Egidio Perfetti

#56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR: Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, Egidio Perfetti

Photo by: Paul Foster

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