Stoffel Vandoorne felt it was “mission accomplished” for his first weekend in the FIA World Endurance Championship after finishing third for SMP Racing in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

Ex-McLaren Formula 1 driver Vandoorne qualified fifth on Saturday before completing a 2hr45m stint in the #11 BR Engineering BR1 AER car at the start of the race, negotiating heavy rain and even a period of snow.

The Belgian moved into the overall lead in the second hour before Toyota fought back through the field, and completed his stint with the car sitting third before teammates Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin brought the car home.

“It feels very nice to be on the podium in front of my home crowd, to do this in Belgium is always a nice feeling. A lot of fans here in crazy conditions out there today,” Vandoorne said.

“I think we more or less had everything today, we had snow, rain, dry, sunshine, so it was definitely tricky conditions. I spent a long time in the car which was nice.

“I managed to put the car in P3, and my teammates did the job to finish the race, so it’s a great result for us.”

Vandoorne said there was plenty he could take from his first WEC race experience ahead of his first start at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

“Le Mans is another big challenge. With a different aero package on the car as well, the car will feel completely different,” Vandoorne said.

“The traffic that I experienced here will be times two, so everything will just be more difficult. 

“I think it was definitely good to get this first race under my belt. It’s important to get the mileage here this weekend and experience probably the most difficult conditions.

“There was a lot to take on board this weekend for me. It was the first time jumping in the car, and I think more or less mission accomplished.”

Vandoorne joined ex-McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso up on the podium, with the Spaniard taking overall victory for Toyota alongside Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.

“On the podium, I asked him how long that you haven’t had a trophy, because in Formula 1 we could not fight for the podiums in the last two years,” Alonso said.

“I was happy for him because he deserved it. He’s a very talented driver, and the first race he does in another category, he’s in the podium again. He dominated everything he drove. I’m happy for him.”

Prior to Spa, Vandoorne’s most recent podium trophy came just three weeks ago when he finished third in the Rome Formula E race.

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