Alonso/Buemi/Nakajima win at Spa
Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima beat the elements today to take their fourth win of the FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season at the TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
The No.8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 HYBRID trio claimed a famous win amid a variety of challenging rain and snow showers which hit the Belgian venue throughout an exhilarating and unpredictable race. There were four safety car periods for deteriorating conditions through the six hours, and the race was eventually red-flagged with 11 minutes to go as the weather closed in once again.
In winning, Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima are one step closer to the 2018-19 LMP World Endurance Drivers Championship which they now lead by 31 points. This title will be decided at the Super Final of the season, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Kobayashi was over 50-seconds in the lead when the issue occurred, and he was forced to pit. The car eventually finished in sixth place in the LMP1 class.
It was a day of celebration for Toyota Gazoo Racing as the Japanese manufacturer took the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance LMP1 Championship with a round to spare.
The No.3 Rebellion R-13 shared by Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent and Nathanael Berthon took second place overall after a close battle with the No.11 SMP Racing car of WEC debutant Stoffel Vandoorne and his teammates Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov.
The No.17 SMP car of Sergey Sirotkin, Stephane Sarrazin and Egor Orudzhev placed fourth after its race was affected by a lost wheel in the second hour.
LMP2: DragonSpeed Takes First WEC Victory
Maldonado drove a stellar triple stint to surge ahead of early leaders, the No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07 and the No.36 Signatech Alpine Matmut entry.
The third Safety Car period in the fifth hour saw a fired-up Maldonado pass Gabriel Aubry and Nicolas Lapierre during his remarkable charge.
The pole-sitting G-Drive Racing car of Jean-Eric Vergne, Job Van Uitert and Roman Rusinov took second place after Vergne was able to leapfrog both the Signatech Alpine Matmut and No.38 Jackie Chan Racing cars in the final two hours.
The first hours of the race saw both of these team entries lead at stages, but the shake-up of the order under Safety Cars and Full Course Yellow periods changed the shape of the hotly contested class.
As a result, the Signatech trio of Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet slightly extend their lead in the standings to four points over Ho-Pin Tung, Stéphane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry.
Aston Martin wins LMGTE Pro as Porsche seal title
ix hours of extreme weather conditions saw Aston Martin Racing’s No.97 crew of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin take their first win of the season in the highly-competitive LMGTE Pro category.
The win was made even more special for Martin as he celebrated in front of an elated home crowd. Indeed, 52,000 spectators braved mixed weather conditions in Belgium to attend round 7 of the FIA WEC Super Season.
Meanwhile, Porsche took the World Endurance GTE Manufacturers’ Championship with one round still remaining. After the No. 92 and No. 91 crews finished third and eighth respectively, the Porsche GT Team have a 93-point lead in the overall standings making it mathematically impossible for Ferrari to catch them.
The No. 51 car piloted by Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado took the runner-up spot for Ferrari. During the race’s closing stages, the AF Corse entry was hot on the heels of category winner Aston Martin Racing with less than a second separating the two cars. However, a red flag was issued 11 minutes before the end of the race due to deteriorating weather conditions putting an end to the on-track battle.
After nearly six hours of racing, the BMW Team MTEK crew made up of Augusto Farfus and Antonio Felix De Costa plus Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK’s Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell were neck and neck for P4. When the race was red flagged, only a tenth of a second separated the two crews emphasising the hugely competitive racing in LMGTE Pro. BMW were awarded fourth, with Ford rounding out the top five.
Dempsey-Proton Racing take second consecutive win in LMGTE Am
The LMGTE Am field once again saw plenty of action from start to finish but the top spot of the podium eventually went to Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 77 car trio made up of Christian Ried, Riccardo Pera and Matt Campbell. The squad’s emphatic victory is the second in a row for the German-based team having also taken the spoils in Sebring back in March.
Pole-sitter TF Sport finished runner-up with Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and Charlie Eastwood at the wheel of their Aston Martin. Clearwater Racing’s trio of Luis Perez-Companc, Matteo Cressoni and Matthew Griffin took the third podium spot in the Ferrari. The Singaporean team enjoyed a close battle with the No. 98 of Aston Martin Racing and the No. 86 Gulf Racing team in the early stages of the race.
Category leaders Team Project 1 finished fifth for Porsche – less than half a second behind Spirit of Race in the Ferrari. At the top of the standings, Team Project 1 now lead Spirit of Race by 23 points meaning everything is to play for at the season-closing 24 Hours of Le Mans.
TS050 HYBRID #8
Race: 1st, 133 laps, 9 pit stops. Grid: 2nd. Fastest lap: 1min 58.056secs
Sébastien Buemi (TS050 HYBRID #8): “A race win for us is very nice of course, but it was a tricky race with the conditions. I’m sorry for car #7 to have the issue when they were leading; it would have been difficult to catch them so they deserved better. We had some bad luck early in the race and I had some radio issues as well which didn’t help. It’s fantastic for the team to win the World Championship. Now we go to Le Mans with a bit of a margin in the drivers’ championship but we are taking nothing for granted. I am looking forward to a good, fair fight in Le Mans.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8): “It was a crazy race with crazy weather. We were quite lucky to win as it was very unfortunate for car #7; I feel sorry for them. We faced a few difficulties in these conditions so there are some lessons to learn so we are fully prepared for Le Mans. It is a great achievement for the team to become World Champions; that was the biggest target here and now we can celebrate a little bit. We are focused on Le Mans and we have to finish the job for the drivers’ World Championship. We know probably more than anyone how difficult that race can be.”
Fernando Alonso (TS050 HYBRID #8): “That was definitely not an easy race, with a couple of issues in the first part in addition to the weather. So the race was up and down in terms of emotions. The most important thing today was securing the teams’ World Championship. I am extremely happy for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing that we scored enough points to become World Champion; a massive well done for everyone in the team. It has been an amazing season for us and hopefully in Le Mans we can have the final, nice touch with the drivers’ title.”
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