Toyota continued its perfect start to the FIA World Endurance Championship season as Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima took their third straight victory in Sunday's 6 Hours of Silverstone in the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.

A pass in the final hour from Buemi on the sister Toyota car allowed the trio to continue their perfect record in races together, extending their lead at the top of the drivers' world championship in the process following wins at Spa and Le Mans. 

After losing out in qualifying to the #7 Toyota shared by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez, Buemi spent the early part of the race running in second place before the two cars were given the call to swap positions during the second stint.



A slow stop for the #8 Toyota crew allowed Conway to pull into the lead after taking over from Kobayashi with Alonso now in tow, only for the two-time Formula 1 world champion to make a bold pass at Brooklands to reclaim the lead.

Alonso forged an eight-second lead that was wiped away by a Safety Car at half distance called following a puncture for AF Corse's #71 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo that left debris all over the track, but the Spaniard was able to retain his advantage upon the restart before completing his stint and handing over to teammate Nakajima.

A balance issue on the #8 car allowed Lopez to reel in Nakajima before getting ahead and opening up a 20-second lead through his stint, with driving duties cycling back to Kobayashi for the final stint.

Buemi managed to chip away at Kobayashi's advantage before a slow penultimate stop for the #7 Toyota saw the gap fall once again as the car was fitted with a new rear deck, leaving the gap at six seconds.

A mistake from Kobayashi at Abbey saw him run wide, with Toyota reporting floor damage on the car that allowed Buemi to close before taking the lead with 50 minutes remaining.

Buemi swept through the remaining time with no issues, crossing the line 19 seconds clear of Kobayashi to continue the #8 Toyota's perfect start to the season with three wins from three races. It also marked Buemi and Nakajima's sixth consecutive win in the WEC, their streak dating back to Fuji last year.

Despite efforts to draw the privateer LMP1 non-hybrid runners closer to Toyota, Rebellion Racing finished a distant four laps down with its lead #3 R13 Gibson car in third place with Gustavo Menezes, Mathias Beche and Thomas Laurent. The duo finished ahead of the sister #1 Rebellion, with both having got the jump on the #17 SMP Racing entry through the race, which was left to finish fifth.

Jenson Button's hopes of a first podium at Silverstone since 1999 were dashed early on as an engine issue forced the second SMP Racing car to retire inside the first hour while running P3. The ByKollles team also failed to finish the race as Rene Binder crashed out after failing to realise cars were slowing under a Full Course Yellow, forcing him to try and take evasive action that left him in the wall.

Jackie Chan DC Racing stormed to a dominant one-two finish in LMP2 as the #38 Oreca 07 Gibson shared by Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stephane Richelmi led home Nabil Jeffri, Weiron Tan and Jazeman Jaafar in the sister #37 Oreca. Both cars had been fighting with TDS Racing's #28 Oreca, only for Loic Duval to suffer a puncture with two hours to go, causing him to drop out of the lead battle. The class podium was completed by the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut entry, which finished one lap down on the DC Racing cars.

AF Corse took a surprise victory in GTE-Pro after the pace-setting Ford team suffered a number of setbacks through the race. A messy Turn 1 left both the #66 and #67 Ford GTs requiring a fightback, with both rising through the field to run P1 and P2 respectively after two hours.

However, after the Safety Car bunched the field, the Fords could not pull away, with an issue on the door of the #66 car leaving it one lap down. The #67 was caught out by some mistimed pit stops, coming in just before a Full Course Yellow on two occasions, causing Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell to drop out of victory contention.

#51 Ferrari drivers Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado were able to perfect their strategy calls to forge a lead with two hours remaining, being tailed by the pair of factory-entered Porsche 911 RSRs. Despite a swap of positions to give the #92 Porsche a chance to cut the gap in the hands of Gianmaria Bruni, Pier Guidi was able to stand firm in the lead, crossing the line 14 seconds clear to take AF Corse's first victory of the season. Tincknell was able to recover third place with 10 minutes remaining after overhauling the #91 Porsche.

GTE-Am offered a tantalising battle between TF Sport's #90 Aston Martin Vantage and Team Project 1's #56 Porsche through the opening five hours, only for both cars to be hit with a 75-second stop/go penalty in the final hour after a pit infringement under the Safety Car. This handed class victory to Matt Campbell, Christian Ried and Julien Andlauer of Dempsey-Proton Racing in the #77 Porsche, the trio leading home TF Sport and Team Project 1 as their cars recovere to finish on the podium in second and third respectively.

The WEC now goes on a two-month break before resuming its super season with the 6 Hours of Fuji on October 14.


Loading Comments...