Toyota Gazoo Racing stormed to a one-two finish in Saturday's 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps as Fernando Alonso made a winning start to life in the FIA World Endurance Championship, recording his first win for almost five years.

McLaren Formula 1 driver Alonso teamed up with Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi in the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid to convert pole position into victory in the WEC 'super season' opener, albeit not without coming under pressure late on from Mike Conway in the sister #7 Toyota car.

With the #7 car starting the race from the pit lane after being excluded from qualifying, Buemi took the start and was able to build up a healthy lead over the privateer LMP1 teams as the Toyotas ran longer and quicker.

Three Safety Car periods and a handful of laps under Full Course Yellow allowed the #7 car to clamber back up the order, getting back on the lead lap after 90 minutes of racing, and drew closer to the #8 after Nakajima was forced into an additional pit stop due to his seatbelt not being strapped correctly.

Alonso took over for his final stint of the race with just over one hour remaining, with the #8 Toyota’s lead standing at over a minute from the #7 car.

However, this was wiped away following a crash for Matevos Isaakyan in the #17 SMP Racing entry at the top of Eau Rouge, prompting a Safety Car period. Isaakyan walked away from the car unharmed, having seen Pietro Fittipaldi suffer a crash just one corner earlier in on Friday in the same BR Engineering BR1 chassis.

Alonso took the restart with 48 minutes to go with his advantage standing at just six seconds, only for Conway to slowly whittle it away, leaving the pair nose-to-tail ahead of their final pit stops with 25 minutes remaining. Alonso’s lead extended again as stayed out a couple of minutes longer than Conway, but soon found his mirrors filled with the second Toyota once again entering the final few laps.

After negotiating some traffic, Alonso was able to bring the buffer back to three seconds, with both Toyotas then easing their pace to the chequered flag to ensure a one-two finish.

The Spaniard crossed the line to record his first professional racing win since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, kicking off his WEC career in perfect fashion, with Buemi and Nakajima also picking up the maximum score of 25 points for victory as the pair repeated their 2017 Spa success.

Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna took third on Rebellion Racing's return to LMP1, two laps down on the race winner, with the team's second Rebellion R13 Gibson finishing fourth. ByKolles finished a further two laps down in fifth place in its first WEC appearance since last year's race at the Nürburgring.

CrashTV: 

Fresh from his Formula E success in Paris last Saturday, Jean-Eric Vergne claimed his second win in the space of a week as he led G-Drive Racing to victory in LMP2 on debut for the team. The #26 Oreca 07 Gibson dominated proceedings throughout the race, giving Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola a winning start to their time as teammates, with a full European Le Mans Series campaign planned as well as entering next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Jackie Chan DC Racing was left to settle for second in LMP2 with its #38 Oreca, shared by Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stephane Richelmi, while Signatech Alpine Matmut rounded out the podium with Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Pierre Thiriet in the #36 Alpine A470 Gibson.

In GTE-Pro, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing benefitted from the late Safety Car period as Olivier Pla pulled off a late pass on Richard Lietz at Eau Rouge to snatch victory in the #66 Ford GT. Lietz was unable to hold on to a podium place in the closing stages, finishing fourth as the #92 Porsche 911 RSR took second, with Davide Rigon muscling past for the final podium position on the penultimate lap in the #71 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo to take third.

The battle for victory in GTE-Am went to the line as defending champions Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda began their title defence in fashion, beating the TF Sport Aston Martin customer team by just two-tenths of a second after six hours of racing. The two cars made contact at the chicane late on, but both made it to the line, with the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE completing the class podium.

FIA WEC 6 HOURS OF SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS - RACE RESULT

Comments

Loading Comments...