WEC Spa: Toyota claims one-two, with Alonso's car taking victory

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

WEC Spa: Toyota claims one-two, with Alonso's car taking victory

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 distance, 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.

That bunched up the pack, not long after Alonso had taken over from Nakajima for the final double stint, and Mike Conway took the restart 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 Alonso, who claimed his first race victory since the 2013 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.

Rebellion Racing initially 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.

But they were later excluded owing to an overly worn skid block, which was found to be 1.2mm under the tolerance permitted by the rules.

Thomas Laurent, Gustavo Menezes and Mathias Beche took fourth in the #3 car on the road but were promotted to third. They 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.

Vergne and co cruise to LMP2 win

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 safety car at the start of the final hour, 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 beat Porsche in GTE Pro

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 into the barriers at the end 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 911 RSRs, 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 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, 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 Project 1 Porsche of Egidio Perfetti that consigned it to the garage.

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

GTE Am victory by two-tenths

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 battled 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

Pos Class Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 LMP1 S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, F.Alonso Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 163 6h00m50.702s
2 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 163 1.444s
3 LMP1 M.Beche, T.Laurent, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 161 2 Laps
4 LMP1 O.Webb, D.Kraihamer, T.Dillmann ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/NISMO 158 5 Laps
5 LMP1 M.Aleshin, V.Petrov SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 158 5 Laps
6 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J-E.Vergne, A.Pizzitola G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 156 7 Laps
7 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, G.Aubry, S.Richelmi Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 156 7 Laps
8 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.Thiriet Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 156 7 Laps
9 LMP2 J.Jaafar, W.Tan, N.Jeffri Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 155 8 Laps
10 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, L.Duval TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 155 8 Laps
11 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, N.Berthon DragonSpeed ORECA/Gibson 155 8 Laps
12 LMP2 E.Creed, R.Ricci, J.Canal Larbre Competition Ligier/Gibson 152 11 Laps
13 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla, B.Johnson Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 148 15 Laps
14 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre Porsche GT Team Porsche 148 15 Laps
15 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird AF Corse Ferrari 147 16 Laps
16 GTE Pro R.Lietz, G.Bruni Porsche GT Team Porsche 147 16 Laps
17 GTE Pro T.Blomqvist, A.F.da Costa BMW Team MTEK BMW 146 17 Laps
18 GTE Pro A.Lynn, M.Martin, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 146 17 Laps
19 GTE Pro M.Sorensen, N.Thiim, D.Turner Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 146 17 Laps
20 GTE Pro M.Tomczyk, N.Catsburg BMW Team MTEK BMW 145 18 Laps
21 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 144 19 Laps
22 GTE Am S.Yoluc, E.Hankey, C.Eastwood TF Sport Aston Martin 144 19 Laps
23 GTE Am Mok W.S., K.Sawa, M.Griffin Clearwater Racing Ferrari 143 20 Laps
24 GTE Am C.Ried, J.Andlauer, M.Campbell Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 142 21 Laps
25 GTE Am M.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.Cheever MR Racing Ferrari 142 21 Laps
26 GTE Am K.Al Qubaisi, G.Roda, M.Cairoli Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 141 22 Laps
27 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado AF Corse Ferrari 139 24 Laps
28 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, J.Lammers Racing Team Nederland Dallara/Gibson 139 24 Laps
29 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, A.Davison Gulf Racing Porsche 137 26 Laps
30 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella Spirit of Race Ferrari 136 27 Laps
31 GTE Am J.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.Perfetti Team Project 1 Porsche 131 32 Laps
- LMP1 N.Jani, A.Lotterer, B.Senna Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 161 Disqualified
- LMP1 S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, M.Isaakyan SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 132 Retirement
- GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, T.Kanaan Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 26 Retirement
- LMP1 C.Robertson, D.Stoneman CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta/Mecachrome 0 Withdrawn
- LMP1 O.Rowland, A.Brundle, O.Turvey CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta/Mecachrome 0 Withdrawn
- LMP1 H.Hedman, B.Hanley, P.Fittipaldi DragonSpeed BR Engineering/Gibson 0 Withdrawn

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Series WEC
Drivers Fernando Alonso
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Jamie Klein
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