Toyota/Michelin claim 1-2 finish at Spa
Toyota Gazoo Racing monopolised the top two places at the end of the hot and sunny 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, opening round of the 2018/2019 FIA World End...
The disqualification of both Michelin-equipped Toyota TS050 Hybrids after the finish of the 2018 6 Hours of Silverstone handed victory to the N°3 Rebellion/Michelin of Beche/Laurent/Menezes. Rebellion’s N°1 car (Jani/Lotterer) was second, while Ferrari/Michelin took the LM GTE Pro prize with the N°51 488 GTE of Pier Guidi/Calado.
In addition to its usual cocktail of unsettled weather and the demands made of tyres through the British venue’s notoriously fast corners, Silverstone provided tyre manufacturers with an additional challenge at this year’s FIA WEC clash in the form of an entirely resurfaced track – offering good grip – for Round 3 of the 2018/2019 championship.
The race was unsurprisingly dominated by the two Toyota Gazoo Racing-run TS050 Hybrids and the N°7 and N°8 prototypes traded the lead several times either out on the track or in the pitlane as a function of their respective strategies. The pole-winning N°8 machine of Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima was first past the chequered flag but both cars were later disqualified for a skid block deflection infringement after inspection at post-race scrutineering.
As a result, the win was attributed to the N°3 Rebellion/Michelin of Mathias Beche, Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes who survived a tangle at the start. Second was the team’s N°1 sister car (Jani/Lotterer) which underwent a rebuild prior to the race after Bruno Senna’s big shunt during practice. The Michelin-equipped N°17 SMP Racing prototype of Sarrazin/Orudzehv was third.
In the LM GTE Pro class, all the carmakers involved in the series (all on Michelin rubber) challenged for victory. The N°66 Ford started from pole but lost any chance of victory after an extended pit stop for a door change. The N°85 Aston Martin then led its home race at the end of the first hour but the N°51 Ferrari was in front by the race’s halfway point, chased by the N°92 Porsche. The 488 GTE/Michelin of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado went on to take the top prize, chased over the line by the N°91 Porsche/Michelin (Lietz/Bruni), N°67 Ford/Michelin (Priaulx/Tincknell) and N°92 Porsche/Michelin (Christensen/Estre).
The LM GTE Am battle was won by Dempsey-Proton Racing’s N°77 Porsche/Michelin, ahead of the N°90 Aston Martin/Michelin, while the N°56 Project 1 Porsche/Michelin pinched third spot from the N°98 Aston Martin on the final lap.
Jackie Chan Racing came first and second in LM P2 with its N°38 (Tung/Aubry/Richelmi) and N°37 (Jaafar/Tan/Jeffri) Gibson-powered Orecas.
There was encouragement, too, for Michelin – which is making its comeback in the category – since the N°31 Dragonspeed and N°29 Nederland Racing prototypes ended up in the top five.
After qualifying on pole for the 4 Hours of Silverstone (European Le Mans Series) and securing second and third places in Saturday afternoon’s race, Michelin tyres helped two LM P2 prototypes (N°31 Dragonspeed and N°29 Nederland Racing cars) finish in the class’s top five in Sunday’s six-hour bill-topper.
FIA WEC action will now resume in October with Round 4 at Mount Fuji, Japan.