Spa WEC: Toyota takes 1-2, Alonso wins on debut

Spa WEC: Toyota takes 1-2, Alonso wins on debut
Jamie Klein
By: Jamie Klein
May 5, 2018, 5:34 PM

Toyota secured a one-two finish in the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship superseason at Spa, with Fernando Alonso’s car taking a narrow win.

Race winners Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Race winners Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Race winners Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Race winners Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Race winner Fernando Alonso, Toyota Gazoo Racing
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pla, Billy Johnson
#98 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage
#4 ByKolles Racing Team Enso CLM P1/01: Oliver Webb, Dominik Kraihamer, Tom Dillmann, on fire
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Fernando Alonso
Start: #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso leads
Pre-race grid
#97 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR: Alex Lynn, Maxime Martin, Jonathan Adam

The #8 TS050 Hybrid Alonso shared with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima looked to be on course for an untroubled victory for the majority of the race, helped by the sister #7 car being forced to start from the pitlane. 

By the time the #7 Toyota had recovered to second place in the third hour, the #8 car was the best part of a minute ahead, despite Nakajima having to make an extra pitstop for his seatbelts not being fastened correctly and then spinning at La Source shortly afterwards.

The two Toyotas circulated around a minute apart until a late safety car period was caused by a big crash for Matevos Isaakyan in the #17 SMP Racing BR1-AER at the top of Eau Rouge at the five-hour mark.

That bunched up the pack, not long after Alonso had taken over from Nakajima for a final double stint, and Mike Conway took the restart in the #7 car hot on the Spaniard’s heels.

However, despite closing to within a second of the two-time Formula 1 champion at one stage, Conway never attempted a pass, and duly crossed the line 1.4 seconds behind the victorious Alonso.

Rebellion Racing took third and fourth in the first race for its pair of new Oreca-built R-13-Gibsons, having emerged as clearly the quickest of the non-hybrid teams.

The #1 car of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna survived two trips to the pits due to transponder issues to take the final step on the podium, two laps down on the Toyotas.

Thomas Laurent, Gustavo Menezes and Mathias Beche took fourth in the #3 car, which had been battling the #17 SMP entry for the final podium spot until Isaakyan’s crash.

The ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01-Nissan shared by Tom Dillmann, Oliver Webb and Dominik Kraihamer took a distant fifth, a further three laps back on the Rebellion pair, while the #11 SMP car of Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov was last of the LMP1 finishers in sixth.

G-Drive takes LMP2 spoils

G-Drive Racing took a straightforward LMP2 class win in its wildcard Oreca entry driven by Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Runsinov and Andrea Pizzitola.

The #26 Oreca had held a lead of more than a minute before the final safety car, and despite having that advantage heavily reduced Vergne was still able to finish 21 seconds clear of the opposition.

Jackie Chan DC Racing’s #38 Oreca beat the #36 Signatech Alpine Oreca to second as Ho-Pin Tung jumped ahead of Andre Negrao in the final round of pitstops. 

Pastor Maldonado finished sixth on his WEC debut in the DragonSpeed Oreca he shared with Nathanael Berthon and Roberto Gonzalez after being delayed by a brief stoppage on track and a drive-through penalty for pitlane speeding.

Giedo van der Garde enjoyed a spell out front early on in the race in the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara before his charge was halted by an alternator problem.

Ford beats Porsche to GTE Pro honours

Ford trio Olivier Pla, Stefan Mucke and Billy Johnson took victory in the GTE Pro class in the #66 Ganassi-run GT following a heavy crash for Harry Tincknell at Eau Rouge in the sister car.

Tincknell was running second behind the sister Ford when he lost control and crashed head-on in the barriers at the start of the second hour, bringing out the safety car.

The Briton emerged unharmed, but the cause of the crash remains unknown pending a post-race investigation by Ford.

Tincknell’s crash made it a three-horse race between the #66 Ford and the two works Porsche 911s RSR, with Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni having pulled out a 20-second gap in the #91 Porsche after Lietz passed Mucke for the lead in the third hour.

But Isaakyan’s crash reset their fight at the start of the final hour, and Pla was able to get the place and back and open up a gap to take a comfortable victory.

After being passed by Pla, Lietz was demoted a further place by Michael Christensen in the #92 Porsche the Dane shares with Kevin Estre, which went on to take second.

Lietz then continued to haemorrhage time due to a worn right-front tyre, and after a late dogfight was beaten to third by the #71 Ferrari 488 GTE of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird.

The #51 Ferrari of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi had been ahead of the #71 car until Calado got involved in a pitlane scrape with the #56 Porsche of Egidio Perfetti that consigned it to the garage.

BMW finished fifth with the best of its M8 GTEs on its WEC debut, while the new Aston Martin Vantages were sixth and seventh.

The GTE Am class was won by the #98 Aston Martin Vantage after Pedro Lamy fended off the #90 TF Sport Aston of Euan Hankey in a nailbiting finish.

A 35-second advantage for the works car was reduced to five by the final safety car, after which Hankey closed in and put Lamy under big pressure in the closing minutes.

The pair made contact at the Bus Stop chicane as they duked it out for the win, but Lamy held on to the win by just 0.221s at the finish in the car he shares with Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana.

Race results:

1 8 spain  Fernando Alonso 
japan  Kazuki Nakajima 
switzerland  Sébastien Buemi 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 163 laps
2 7 japan  Kamui Kobayashi 
united_kingdom  Mike Conway 
argentina  Jose Maria Lopez 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 1.444
3 1 germany  Andre Lotterer 
brazil  Bruno Senna 
switzerland  Neel Jani 
Rebellion R13 LMP1 2 laps 
4 3 switzerland  Mathias Beche 
france  Thomas Laurent 
united_states  Gustavo Menezes 
Rebellion R13 LMP1 2 laps 
5 4 united_kingdom  Oliver Webb 
austria  Dominik Kraihamer 
france  Tom Dillmann 
ENSO CLM P1/01 LMP1 5 laps 
6 11 russia  Vitaly Petrov 
russia  Mikhail Aleshin 
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 5 laps 
7 26 france  Jean-Eric Vergne 
russia  Roman Rusinov 
france  Andrea Pizzitola 
Oreca 07 LMP2 7 laps 
8 38 china  Ho-Pin Tung 
monaco  Stéphane Richelmi 
france  Gabriel Aubry 
Oreca 07 LMP2 7 laps 
9 36 france  Nicolas Lapierre 
france  Pierre Thiriet 
brazil  Andre Negrao 
Alpine A470 LMP2 7 laps 
10 37 malaysia  Nabil Jeffri 
malaysia  Weiron Tan 
malaysia  Jazeman Jaafar 
Oreca 07 LMP2 8 laps 
11 28 france  Loic Duval 
france  François Perrodo 
france  Matthieu Vaxiviere 
Oreca 07 LMP2 8 laps 
12 31 venezuela  Pastor Maldonado 
france  Nathanael Berthon 
mexico  Roberto Gonzalez 
Oreca 07 LMP2 8 laps 
13 50 brazil  Fernando Rees 
france  Romano Ricci 
france  Erwin Creed 
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 11 laps 
14 66 germany  Stefan Mücke 
france  Olivier Pla 
united_states  Billy Johnson 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 15 laps 
15 92 denmark  Michael Christensen 
france  Kevin Estre 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 15 laps 
16 71 united_kingdom  Sam Bird 
italy  Davide Rigon 
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 16 laps 
17 91 italy  Gianmaria Bruni 
austria  Richard Lietz 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 16 laps 
18 82 portugal  Antonio Felix da Costa
united_kingdom  Tom Blomqvist 
19 97 united_kingdom  Jonathan Adam 
belgium  Maxime Martin 
united_kingdom  Alex Lynn 
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 17 laps 
20 95 denmark  Marco Sorensen 
denmark  Nicki Thiim 
united_kingdom  Darren Turner 
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 17 laps 
21 81 netherlands  Nick Catsburg 
germany  Martin Tomczyk 
22 98 portugal  Pedro Lamy 
canada  Paul Dalla Lana 
austria  Mathias Lauda 
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 19 laps 
23 90 turkey  Salih Yoluc 
united_kingdom  Euan Hankey 
ireland  Charlie Eastwood 
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 19 laps 
24 61 ireland  Matt Griffin 
singapore  Mok Weng Sun 
japan  Keita Sawa 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 20 laps 
25 77 germany  Christian Ried 
australia  Matt Campbell 
france   Julien Andlauer 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 21 laps 
26 70 monaco  Olivier Beretta 
italy   Eddie Cheever III 
japan  Motoaki Ishikawa 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 21 laps 
27 88 united_arab_emirates  Khaled Al Qubaisi 
italy  Matteo Cairoli 
italy  Giorgio Roda 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 22 laps 
28 51 united_kingdom  James Calado 
italy  Alessandro Pier Guidi 
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 24 laps 
29 29 netherlands  Jan Lammers 
netherlands  Giedo van der Garde 
netherlands  Frits van Eerd 
Dallara P217 LMP2 24 laps 
30 86 united_kingdom  Michael Wainwright 
united_kingdom  Ben Barker 
australia  Alex Davison 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 26 laps 
31 54 italy  Giancarlo Fisichella 
italy  Francesco Castellacci 
switzerland  Thomas Flohr 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 27 laps 
32 56 germany  Jörg Bergmeister 
united_states  Patrick Lindsey 
norway  Egidio Perfetti 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 32 laps 
33 17 france  Stéphane Sarrazin 
russia  Matevos Isaakyan 
russia  Egor Orudzhev 
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 31 laps 
34 67 united_kingdom  Harry Tincknell 
brazil  Tony Kanaan 
guernsey  Andy Priaulx 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 137 laps 
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