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Spa WEC: Alonso, Buemi, Nakajima win snow-hit race

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Spa WEC: Alonso, Buemi, Nakajima win snow-hit race
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May 4, 2019, 5:27 PM

Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima took a significant step towards FIA World Endurance Championship title glory by taking victory in a snow-hit race at Spa.

The drivers of the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid took a one-lap victory in a race disrupted by four safety car periods and two full-course yellows - and which was finally red-flagged with 11 minutes to run - helped by the sister #7 entry losing a healthy lead with a technical gremlin.

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez were over 50 seconds in the clear when they were hit by a failed brake sensor just short of half-distance, necessitating a trip to the garage that lasted 11 minutes and cost them four laps.

They eventually trailed home sixth, meaning Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima take a 31-point lead to the Le Mans 24 Hours next month with only 39 points left to play for.

The #8 Toyota lost ground after the first of multiple snow showers hit Spa, as Buemi was forced into an extra stop early in the second hour because he was not given slick tyres.

That left Buemi trailing by 56 seconds, although Alonso was able to reduce that to 45s during his first stint, despite a spin at Pouhon that co-incided with the start of a VSC.

Kobayashi had edged the gap back up when the problem hit that effectively decided the race, and potentially the destiny of the championship battle.

The LMP1 privateers were afforded a rare chance to fight for two spots on the podium as a result of the #7 car's problems, and it was the #3 Rebellion R-13 shared by Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent and Nathanael Berthon that took second place.

SMP Racing had looked to have taken the upper hand with its #11 BR Engineering BR1 of WEC debutant Stoffel Vandoorne, Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov when the Russian squad reacted quicker to changing conditions during a shower in hour four.

However, the penultimate safety car period eradicated the gap between the two cars and Laurent was able to pass Petrov for second.

The #17 SMP car of Sergey Sirotkin, Stephane Sarrazin and Egor Orudzhev dropped a lap to its sister car after shedding its front-right wheel early in hour three.

They managed to recover to fourth place, helped by a spin for Bruno Senna that dropped the #1 Rebellion the Brazilian shares with Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani to fifth.

The ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01 finished the best part of 40 laps down after a clash with the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 of Jordan King at La Source left the car with significant front-end damage that warranted a long trip to the garage.

LMP2: Maldonado delivers DragonSpeed victory

DragonSpeed secured its first WEC win in LMP2 courtesy of a storming late stint from Formula 1 race winner Pastor Maldonado.

The penultimate safety car period brought the #31 Oreca Maldonado shares with Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez to within spitting distance of the class lead, and Maldonado then picked off Gabriel Aubry in the #38 DC Racing car as well as Nicolas Lapierre's #36 Signatech Alpine entry.

Maldonado established a 10-second buffer out front, which was wiped out by the final safety car period, but the Venezuelan was able to keep his opponents at bay after the final restart before the red flags were shown.

G-Drive Racing's Aurus-badged Oreca shared by Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Job van Uitert held on for second place ahead of the #36 car of Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet.

The #38 car of Aubry, Ho-Pin Tung and Stephane Richelmi was fourth in class, losing ground in the class championship fight to the #36 crew.

GTE: Aston Martin beats Ferrari

Aston Martin scored a second victory of the season with its new Vantage GTE, as Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn took honours in the #97 car.

Martin was able to pull a gap in the wet conditions towards the end of a class battle that ebbed and flowed for its entire distance as different manufacturers gambled on various tyre strategies.

Martin passed Davide Rigon's Ferrari after the penultimate restart and built a lead of 10 seconds over the BMW of Antonio Felix da Costa after Rigon pitted.

But BMW cost itself a likely podium by pitting both its cars in the closing stages, allowing the #51 Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado to take second.

Third on the road was the #91 Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz, but they were due to serve a drive-through penalty after a clash with the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari when the race was halted early, and the resulting time penalty dropped the pair to eighth.

It meant the points-leading #92 Porsche of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen was promoted to the final spot on the podium, putting the pair within touching distance of the drivers' title.

That result was good enough to secure the GTE manufacturers' prize with a race to spare.

GTE Am honours went to the #77 Proton Competition Porsche of Christian Ried, Matt Campbell and Riccardo Pera, some five seconds ahead of the pole-winning #90 TF Sport Aston Martin.

Championship leaders Egidio Perfetti, Patrick Lindsey and Jorg Bergmeister finished fifth in the #56 Project 1 Porsche after a late off at Fagnes.

Race results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Laps Gap
1 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
Spain Fernando Alonso
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 133  
2 3 France Nathanael Berthon
France Thomas Laurent
United States Gustavo Menezes
Rebellion R13 LMP1 132 1 Lap
3 11 Russian Federation Mikhail Aleshin
Russian Federation Vitaly Petrov
Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 132 1 Lap
4 17 France Stéphane Sarrazin
Russian Federation Egor Orudzhev
Russian Federation Sergey Sirotkin
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 131 2 Laps
5 1 Switzerland Neel Jani
Germany Andre Lotterer
Brazil Bruno Senna
Rebellion R13 LMP1 130 3 Laps
6 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 129 4 Laps
7 31 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Venezuela Pastor Maldonado
United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Oreca 07 LMP2 129 4 Laps
8 26 Russian Federation Roman Rusinov
Netherlands Job Van Uitert
France Jean-Eric Vergne
Aurus 01 LMP2 129 4 Laps
9 36 France Nicolas Lapierre
Brazil Andre Negrao
France Pierre Thiriet
Alpine A470 LMP2 129 4 Laps
10 38 China Ho-Pin Tung
France Gabriel Aubry
Monaco Stéphane Richelmi
Oreca 07 LMP2 129 4 Laps
11 28 France François Perrodo
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
France Norman Nato
Oreca 07 LMP2 128 5 Laps
12 29 Netherlands Frits van Eerd
Netherlands Giedo van der Garde
Netherlands Nyck de Vries
Dallara P217 LMP2 127 6 Laps
13 37 Denmark David Heinemeier Hansson
United Kingdom Jordan King
United Kingdom Will Stevens
Oreca 07 LMP2 127 6 Laps
14 50 France Erwin Creed
France Romano Ricci
United States Nicholas Boulle
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 126 7 Laps
15 97 United Kingdom Alex Lynn
Belgium Maxime Martin
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 124 9 Laps
16 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 124 9 Laps
17 92 Denmark Michael Christensen
France Kevin Estre
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 124 9 Laps
18 82 Brazil Augusto Farfus
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
BMW M8 GTE LMGTE PRO 124 9 Laps
19 67 Guernsey Andy Priaulx
United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 124 9 Laps
20 71 Italy Davide Rigon
United Kingdom Sam Bird
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 124 9 Laps
21 95 Denmark Marco Sorensen
Denmark Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 124 9 Laps
22 91 Austria Richard Lietz
Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 124 9 Laps
23 81 Germany Martin Tomczyk
Netherlands Nick Catsburg
BMW M8 GTE LMGTE PRO 124 9 Laps
24 66 Germany Stefan Mücke
France Olivier Pla
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 123 10 Laps
25 77 Germany Christian Ried
Italy Riccardo Pera
Australia Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 122 11 Laps
26 90 Turkey Salih Yoluc
United Kingdom Euan Hankey
Ireland Charles Eastwood
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 122 11 Laps
27 61 Argentina Luis Perez Companc
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Ireland Matthew Griffin
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 122 11 Laps
28 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 122 11 Laps
29 56 Germany Jörg Bergmeister
United States Patrick Lindsey
Norway Egidio Perfetti
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 122 11 Laps
30 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Portugal Pedro Lamy
Austria Mathias Lauda
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 121 12 Laps
31 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
Germany Thomas Preining
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 121 12 Laps
32 70 Japan Motoaki Ishikawa
Monaco Olivier Beretta
Italy Eddie Cheever III
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 120 13 Laps
33 88 Italy Gianluca Roda
Italy Giorgio Roda
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 115 18 Laps
34 4 France Tom Dillmann
United Kingdom Oliver Webb
Italy Paolo Ruberti
ENSO CLM P1/01 LMP1 95 38 Laps
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