Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima closed in on the FIA World Endurance Championship drivers’ title after taking victory in a snow-hit 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday.

In a race that featured three significant snow flurries, heavy rain, hail and even some spells of bright sunshine, the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid crew dealt with the difficult conditions to win the race by over a lap, with proceedings being curtailed with 11 minutes left of the original six-hour distance.

The #7 Toyota - shared by Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi - had been in control of proceedings early on, opening up a 50-second lead over the #8 car after Buemi was forced into an additional pit stop and Alonso spun at Pouhon.

But a hybrid system sensor failure linked to the electronic braking forced Toyota to bring its #7 car into the garage for repairs just before the three-hour mark, causing it to lose four laps on the leader.

While Lopez and Kobayashi were able to recover from P24 overall to finish the race sixth, the result nevertheless dealt a significant blow to their title hopes.

Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima will head to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June with a 31-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship, with 39 points on offer, meaning a finish of seventh or better will clinch them the title.

Despite failing to cross the line with its cars P1 and P2 for the first time this year, Toyota was able to celebrate winning the LMP1 teams’ championship, wrapping up the title with a race to spare.

Rebellion Racing’s #3 R13 Gibson took second place overall with Thomas Laurent, Gustavo Menezes and Nathanael Berthon, while SMP Racing completed the podium with the #11 BR Engineering BR1 AER.

Stoffel Vandoorne was part of the podium-finishing SMP Racing crew as he enjoyed an impressive WEC debut, completing a 2hr45m stint at the start of the race that saw him lead briefly following the snow shower.

DragonSpeed took victory in the LMP2 class with the #31 Oreca 07 Gibson after a brave pass by Pastor Maldonado on Nicolas Lapierre around the outside of Fagnes put them into the lead ahead of the final Safety Car - called with 40 minutes remaining after a late snow shower.

The race briefly returned to green with 16 minutes to go, only to be finally red-flagged five minutes later and the race being called early.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Job van Uitert took second in LMP2 for G-Drive Racing ahead of Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet in the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut entry.

Aston Martin Racing took its second win of the season as Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn scooped victory in the GTE-Pro class after seeing momentum swing back and forth through the various weather fronts and Safety Car periods.

Martin managed to put in a mammoth final stint to pull out a 17-second gap prior to the final Safety Car being deployed, giving Aston Martin the win ahead of AF Corse’s #51 Ferrari 488 GTE shared by James Calado and Davide Rigon.

Martin managed to soak up pressure from Rigon in the final five minutes of green-flag running, with victory being confirmed after sitting just a couple of car lengths ahead when the result was called.

Porsche managed to sew up the GTE-Pro manufacturers’ title with one race to spare as its pair of 911 RSRs finished third and fourth in class, led by Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni in the #91 entry. Lietz was however subject to a drive-through penalty, with time expected to be added.

There was further Porsche success in GTE-Am was the Dempsey-Proto Racing team took victory with its #77 Porsche 911 RSR, beating TF Sport and Clearwater Racing.

Despite the difficult weather, all 34 cars that started the race managed to finish.

The WEC super-season ends with the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 15-16.

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